ARISE

By Christopher Ryan

I can’t pinpoint the exact moment I was over you.

Somewhere in the aftermath of your destruction, I finally realized it.

You are a hurricane, you’re fascinating to watch from a distance, almost captivating. Dark and mysterious, but beautiful. You destroy everything you touch. I saw that from where I stood.  Human nature pulled me towards you. I chased your storm. I should have never danced in your path. I should have never caught your eye.

The 5th stage of grief is everyone’s favorite. The wonderful thing about acceptance is the ability to eventually feel indifferent. After experiencing every emotion with you, I never would have imaged that there would come a time that I would feel nothing for you.

Manipulation.

Our disagreements linger in my mind to this day. I have never argued over such trivial issues in any of my past relationships. I was constantly in a lose/lose situation. You were never at fault, you never saw my side.

 I shut down when I’m upset. I shut you out when I was upset. I tried to find the right way to express my thoughts. I tried to find the winning way to articulate how I felt. But there is no right or win when arguing, because all it did was drive me further from you.

This car, your car was where we met. You picked me up from the train station. You flashed that cocky smile at me, and I looked at you with my innocuous eyes. I didn’t know what to say to you; so for the first and only time you carried the conversation. You were strikingly handsome, alarmingly dangerous.  You exuded confidence, and carried yourself in a way I wish I could. You kept smiling at me. Your eyes told a story your mouth never could.  They told me you wanted me. They told me that this was it. I was it.

And we ended up here how?  Road after road, turn after turn, 9 months later and here we were. You are telling me that my point is “irrational and irrelevant.”  You are telling me that the reason why I am upset is unwarranted. Even if it was, even if the circumstances surrounding my distress were illogical that is not the way a conflict finds resolution. This same car, the one where you leaned over on the night we met, to rev me up with a kiss, is the last place I want to be.

You manipulated me into believing that I was always wrong, and that the way I felt wasn’t normal or natural or valid. You put me in a lose/lose situation, and we both lost. 

Indifferent.

There is no way for me to tell the moment I stopped feeling any type of emotions for you. Perhaps it was finding out you had slept your way through New York City. Or maybe it was when you dragged me in a grammatically incorrect and terribly spelt social post. It might have been when you knowingly turned mutual friends against me for your own self-indulgent reasons without sharing the factual story.  No, I can’t figure out the exact moment when I stopped caring. But the morning when I woke up and you were no longer the first thing on my mind was the best day I’ve had this year.

I knew I would run into you in person eventually. I knew one day I would see that cocky smile again. And for months, I wondered what I would say or how I would act. And I wondered what you would say and how you would act. If it were a month after you said, “You’re the type of person you settle down with, get married to, and spend your life with, but at 25 I am too young to have met that person,” I would have dismissed you in a public setting, completely ignored you. But it was 7 months since you broke up with me. And somewhere along those 212 days, I stopped caring. Somewhere during those five thousand hours, I realized my worth.

Interestingly enough, I ran into you in a bar, which was funny to me since you never wanted to immerse yourself in the club scene. In fact, I vividly remember stories where you told me how much you loathed that lifestyle and bashed the people who revolve their lives around 4am last calls, and 11am Sunday morning regrets. But you’ve been partying every weekend since you ended our relationship. If I were young, your petty efforts to intentionally hurt me may have worked. I lived that lifestyle, I tasted the sins New York City had to offer, and I know the outcome is the same every time. I grew up from that. At some point some of us decide to be Wendy, and some of us will always be Peter.

You probably haven’t heard what I’ve been up to, and if you have, I can guarantee the rumors are false. I’ve been reading and writing. I’ve been working on my physical and emotional well-being. I’ve been throwing myself into my career, I’ve been traveling, and I’ve been catching up with old friends and making new ones. And I’ve been learning to love again. I can see in your oh so young mind how at 25, your partying lifestyle is glamorous to the outside world, but I’ve been in that world, I know the outcome. It makes for great stories and artistically filtered Instagram photos, but it’s not real life. How I’ve spent the last eight months, is how I want to continue spending my time. 

I could have walked by you, brushed you off, but I wanted you to see how happy I am. Not in a spiteful way. More in a way that signifies the choice you made was the right one for me, and I had no say in it. I wanted you to see the grateful expression on my face, as I smiled at you and asked how you were doing. You were receptive to my approach. You smiled back. You looked tired, beat, broken down, like you were trying to keep up with something impossible to compete with. I sincerely wish you well, I genuinely hope you find what you were so desperately needing.

Cynical.

I wasn’t naïve for very long, I learned quickly the truth to the world, and as much as I tried to hold on to my innocence and cluelessness, I grew jaded.

You see, I could see our entire relationship laid out right in front of me, like a road. You were in control from the beginning; you decided when to speed things up and when to hit the brakes. You decided when you wanted to stop and let me out.

A month into “us” and you wanted to bring me to a holiday party. I was adamant about not attending. I am a very private person. “We” were so new, and for someone who’s been in this situation before, I know once people find out two people are together, they try to disrupt that perceivable happy relationship. People are never happy for you, unless they’re happy before you.

Reluctantly I showed up to the party with you. Again, I had no choice. I remember what you said to me before we left the car “You’re not going to be attached to my hip the entire night, right?” Not even five minutes after arriving, and you were already off engaging in conversation with the last person you had been with sexually before me. You flirted with people right in front of me, people you later followed on social media. I could count on two hands the amounts of minutes you spent with me that night, that whole party. It was all about you, and the attention needed to be on you.

I mentioned to you, when we left the party, how your actions had made me feel, you quickly dismissed me, calling my views “irrational and irrelevant.”

Hate.

I never had the opportunity to miss you or to grieve you, because my emotions brought me to hate you. And I can’t blame them for making me feel such intense feelings of hatred towards you.

We had spent one final summer weekend together. I had brought you to a winery because you had never been, and you loved it. We drank glass after glass and talked about our upcoming summer plans. I was shocked you were so eager to plan more summer fun with me, when I didn’t even believe we’d make it to Fall.

A few days after that weekend, I was just getting home from the gym when you called me. It came from nowhere. There was no reason for the break up call. We hadn’t gotten into an argument. As far as I knew, we were almost out of the woods. Then you did it. You ended it. You took whatever love I had left for you and turned it to hate.

You kept asking me to say something. I remained silent. At that point, I couldn’t speak if I had wanted to. I was quietly sobbing. You kept pressuring me to admit that I didn’t feel the same for you and that I had wanted this too. I wasn’t about to give into your ego to make yourself feel better about what you had done, so I hung up the phone. You called, you texted, I ignored. I broke my rule. I never ignore people. I hate ignoring people. I needed to break my promise and ignore you.

Eventually the texting stopped, the phone calls stopped. Talking every day went to never speaking again. Love turned to hate. Communication stopped, my hate for you hasn’t.

Anxiety.

As much as I would like to blame distance as playing a factor in our relationship’s demise, it wasn’t the case.  From the moment I met you, and as convincing as you were with your words, your actions never coincided with what you promised. I never felt like I could ever fully have you. My instincts have never been wrong. But when you’re drawn to something, you ignore the warning signs, you pass by the wreckage, You walk into danger, you welcome the damage.

Falling for you felt like I was on an airplane seconds from crashing into a mountain: I could stay on the airplane or I could jump.  Jumping only prolonged the inevitable.

There was no ounce or part of me that ever felt like you were my end game. You never made me feel like I was much of a priority. We met, and spent that entire weekend together. Before you dropped me off at the train station you asked what I wanted out of this. I had wanted all the good parts of you, but I knew I would never get them. I could have you, hold you for a time, but that time was limited. I knew that. I didn’t have an answer to give for what I wanted, but I could, based on experience tell you what was going to happen, so I did. I explained that I would take the train home, and if you wanted to continue to pursue a possible relationship with me, I would be receptive.

So began our short lived romance. I knew we couldn’t see each other every day and I was fine with that. I enjoy my space and personal time, the same way everyone does. But for those first couple of months,  when I woke up for the day, I wondered if I would hear from you. It was difficult waiting until 7:00pm every day to finally get a message or a phone call from you. If I can’t be physically with you, I at least like to feel like I am a part of your day. Throughout the relationship, you didn’t get much better at communicating, even though I eventually expressed how important communication is to me.

In time, the affection dwindled. We were no longer having sex five times a night, we weren’t holding hands in the car, you would barely even cuddle me when we watched a movie. You stopped asking what I wanted to eat, what I wanted to do, you grew impatient when I asked to stop for coffee. You started to care less and less. The more your affection sank, the more my anxiety rose. I tried desperately to salvage whatever was left of this, but gauze and bandages prove futile when you need the jaws of life.

I chalk it up to resentment. Eventually you began to resent me, from holding you back from partying and sleeping around. You grew annoyed from our petty arguments, but I can’t help but equate your ill placed anger with trying to push me away. It worked. Extensively. I know people change, I have changed, but I have never seen someone change so rapidly over the course of 9 months.

All you had to do was make me feel like a priority for my anxiety to disappear, but from day one, I knew it would be you who would disappear.

Envy.

I’ve always believed a little jealousy is normal, within reason. 

I find it endearing when someone gets jealous over the attention I receive. It shows that that person cares. I feel if someone is passive about certain things regarding a relationship, it can underline their lack of concern.

We had joint birthdays. 3 days apart and both Gemini’s. An entire weekend full of friends, booze and dancing. People approached me, people flirted with me, but I was always cognizant of telling them I was taken. Even at this point in the relationship when I wanted to walk away, I stayed, and I was still faithful with every fiber of my being. No matter how vocal I was about my taken relationship status, you were envious of the attention I received. I figured it was because you were protective of me, but came to realize it was because you wanted the attention on you.

Because when the attention was on you, and people were hitting on you, you couldn’t stop smiling. You weren’t so quick to tell them you were taken, and you grew annoyed when I became jealous . But I wasn’t jealous of the attention you were receiving, I get enough of my own, I was annoyed that you were flirting back. It was okay for people to approach you and hit on you, but it wasn’t okay when people were flirting with me.

There are plenty of reasons for people to covet you and to be envious of you, if they knew the real you, the true you, If they took you more seriously than just for face value, I doubt people would aspire to be anything like you.

Love.

The first time you said that you loved me, I was shocked. I never thought I would hear you utter those words to me. Such small words, with such big meaning. You were on top of me, looking down at me, into my eyes. You were staring for quite some time. I could almost hear the war waging in your head. “Should I say this?” “I want to say this.” “This changes everything.” “But I mean it.” “Do I mean it?” And then it came out, “I love you.” I’ve never heard you say something you were so sure of before. I’ve never seen you make yourself so vulnerable before. I said it back. I’ve wanted to for a while now, but was waiting for you to say it first.

The truth is, I did love you. I did. Oh how I did. I loved the way you vented to me about your day at work. I loved the face you made when I said something amusing. The way you’d Swiffer your car the second you sat in the driver’s seat. The way you’d always order the most fattening item on the menu without reservation. The wayyou’d walk with ease and confidence. The stare you’d give me when I had just finished getting ready to go to dinner with you. The way you’d look down at me when you hugged me. I loved how you’d try to take an interest in what I liked. You’d make fun of it for a bit, but then gave in. I loved the way you started to speak the way I do, eloquently with an extended vocabulary. I loved the way you used those words incorrectly. But the number one thing I loved about you, is that you gave me a chance to be yours. And for a brief time, I was yours. I never would have thought that in this world, in my body, from my background, a man like you would ever let me in. But you did, and I have to love you for that.

I may not be able to pinpoint the exact moment I was over you, at least I can pinpoint all the exact reasons why, at one point in time, I loved you.