Have you ever had a relationship that utterly imploded and it was entirely your fault?
A few years ago I dated a woman for a short period of time. She was awkward and self-conscious and shy and I loved her. She was one of the most completely damaged people I’ve ever met. I don’t mean that in an insulting or patronizing way, I actually really respected that about her. She’s one of those rare people who, although the world has not been very kind, remains strong enough to continue to wear her vulnerability on the outside. I wanted to scoop her up into my arms like an injured baby bird and make everything okay for her.
Unfortunately at the time that I met her I was at one of the lowest points in my life. I was insecure and unhappy; I was in an unfamiliar city, alone, and demanded everything from those around me. It didn’t help that I have this bad habit of trying to provoke those I’m close to. I try to antagonize and rile them up into debating with me about anything and everything. I look down at people who don’t “get” this about me. But my motives aren’t always good and sometimes I’m hurtful and cruel. It was like this with her and I just wore her down with my cruelty and melodrama. We broke up and mostly stopped contact. I moved away from the desert, started to miss her quite a bit (and realized what an ass I’d been) and so spent months trying to win her back, trying to make her forgive me and give me another chance.
I see now that I was still making it all about me, which was sort of the problem in the first place. It’s been a couple years now. I’m not trying to regain her love anymore. I doubt that would ever happen. We currently have a very stilted, sterile, tight-lipped friendship. Getting her to love me again was never really the important thing anyway. Just proving to her that I’m not the person who hurt her anymore was what mattered. That’s still kind of a selfish need, to need to feel validated in that way. So now I’m letting that go too. I’m done chasing out demons, they can let themselves out.
I’ve decided that all I can do is be sincerely apologetic and committed to never being awful like that again, not as a misguided attempt to make things better with her, but just in general to never be that awful to anyone. If that’s still not enough, then it’s not and I guess that’s okay. It’s time to let some things just lie.