So, after that first conversation two weeks after RJ broke up with me, we have talked a couple more times. When he came over the first time, it was after a slight misunderstanding in each of us thinking the other had something they wanted to say. When we figured out that neither had anything planned, I took it as an opportunity to talk about tying up loose ends.
One of the hardest parts was in giving RJ back his keys. As I dug into my pocket to get them out--because I knew my hands would be fumbling if I tried to take them off my key ring in front of him--RJ started to shake his head no in protest and neither one of us could look each other in the eye. He told me again that I really did not have to give them back and shook his hand away. As the tears came rolling and my voice could barely get the words out, I told him that I did not want to give them back, but that I thought it would be best. RJ took them and then hugged me tight and we cried.
It was so difficult for me to give back the keys because when I looked at them, it just brought me back to that summer day that RJ first gave them to me. I went with him as he made several copies so that if he were to get locked out of his apartment, there would be spares. He gave one to me and I remember saying with a big grin, "Really? You want me to have one." He said yes with a smile--both with his lips and in his eyes. It felt really special, and it was special. He was the first man to give me the keys to his home. It was so meaningful in both feeling the trust that he had in me and in our relationship that it was really going somewhere.
And then in that moment as he held me close, I asked RJ a question I had been burning to ask. I asked him, "Do you have any feelings of anger or bitterness towards me?" I knew the answer really should not matter because even if he did, it should have no barring on my self-worth. But I asked the question for me. I asked it because of how things ended with my ex-husband and how by the end of it A~ just absolutely hated me--hated me for existing, hated me for just being and hated me for being in his way of attaining what he thinks will be his true happiness. I know A~'s thought process was unfair and that he was projecting his frustrations onto me for which I was not responsible. There were two people on that August day that both committed to the marriage. But it was still so devastating to hear and to feel that kind of intense anger after being with him for fourteen years, part of which I thought included love and happy memories. How can you hate someone for being married to you when you are the person who was the major contributor to destroying it? And even in emotionally deflecting back that responsibility of A~'s change in feelings, I still could not help but feel that negative energy.
So, I asked RJ my question. RJ emphatically said no that he did not feel angry with me. He said that as much as he thinks this break up is what needs to happen that he still loves me and that there will always be a part of him that will love me. RJ then continued that he feels that we formed a deep connection. He said it is very hard for him to make those kinds of connections with people and that once he does, he does not let those go.
I found relief in that RJ does not hate me like in the way that my ex-husband did. I found comfort that he still had positive feelings surrounding me and what we experienced. But RJ's admission also hurt because I just do not understand how you can love someone and walk away. I just do not get it.
He did insert that if I did do something to hurt him, that that would change, but quickly reiterated that no he still cared very much for me. I told him that I don't want to hurt him. I think that comment may speak to either a fear of getting hurt or that vulnerability that we are both feeling with being unsure of how it is all really going to end. But I think that if two people want a peaceful ending, even if it is sad, that can happen.
Then RJ shared something that is reflective of his spiritual side. RJ told me that as silly as it may sound, he hopes or would like to think that in the next life we will cross paths. He said, "I hope that we run into each other and that we hug each other. And that we both say, 'Thank you. Thank you for being there in my life because you were exactly what I needed then and I got exactly what I needed from you.' "
And those are the words that I try to hold onto because in some ways it speaks of hope that there will be better for each of us to come. I feel that what RJ shared in that conversation on that day helps to validate that the time we spent together and what we had was real and that it was special and meaningful.
And then RJ read my blog...
the last one with him in it...
and he was upset.
I got an email from him, which was also in response of a few things we needed to take care of doing, but I could see the extra space where he clearly deleted some things. I felt sick because this was not how I wanted things to end, especially after our last conversation.
So, with still looking for a job and having some extra time at home, I decided to walk over to his apartment.
It was strange to walk up the steps to his front door. It reminded me of the first time I came to his door and he invited me into his apartment before a bike ride. I rang the doorbell, which was probably broken. So, I stood there deciding if I should try the back door. As I turned to go down the stairs and lifted the latch to open the gate to walk into the back yard, I glanced over my shoulder half expecting to see the old Italian couple sitting on their front stoop. Of course they wouldn't because it is winter, but in my mind's eye I pictured them as I saw them so many times that first summer and they would laugh and wave as I walked those same steps with what I imagine as a glint of excitement to see RJ. As I climbed his back steps up to the landing on the second floor, I paused before knocking, taking in the view of other tiny city back yards, the walk with the rose garden and the back of the church parking lot where so many couples and their wedding parties bustled to and from the church for the ceremony. I remembered sitting on the rails of the landing talking to my friends on my phone about this amazing guy. Still standing, I remembered the slow warming of summer mornings as RJ watered his garden or the back and forth from the kitchen to the yard for barbecues or the starry nights as we left his apartment for some nighttime fun down the block. I remembered the first summer looking out of RJ's kitchen window and wondering, "Will I be in this kitchen the following summer? I certainly hope so, it feels like it. Will that one day be us in that church parking lot?"
My head was becoming full in these fleeting thoughts. And not wanting to indulge in them for any length of time, I pushed them aside because I just did not want to feel the sadness in not ever experiencing them again. I pushed them away as I raised my hand up to knock on the door and RJ answered. He answered with a quiet hello. Cutting past the small talk, I told him right off that I read his email. He paused and I invited him to come outside. Fortunately, it was one of those warmer 50 degree winter days. But somehow the temperature seemed almost non-existent.
RJ apologized for sending me the email and that he had been avoiding reading my blog, but did this morning. I told him not to apologize for sharing his feelings and that I would rather know he was upset and be able to talk about it. I told him how I noticed his editing and that he didn't fire off everything that he was thinking and that maybe it was good to get it out and then delete it--to which he looked down with a slight knowing laugh.
Then, RJ shared that he was upset because he felt that he had been completely honest about how he felt about us along the way and that the break up was not a complete surprise out of no where. I asked him how much of my blog he read, if he had just read the one entry or others too. He said just the one. I told him that there were other entries that talked about the leading doubts and that the surprise came from the fact that I was not expecting the break up that morning. He said he was surprised by it too and it was not planned. I told RJ that he was as honest as he could be in sharing his concerns about the relationship along the way. However, I felt he was inconsistent in sharing the good things and the love that he felt for me. I felt there were times that he seemed to show he cared in big ways and I was hoping not to be grasping for straws in searching that he really loved me. I told him that you have to share the good stuff too and sometimes that includes saying it.
RJ said that he gave everything that he could put into the relationship and that he was in it fully. But RJ and I agreed that we would go round and round as far as to the argument of how one can be fully in the relationship if they are worrying or thinking about it ending. I feel that if you are in that mindset or fear, it does take you out and that was what was missing. And RJ said he gave everything that he had, which I can understand to a point. I told him that I also gave everything that I had, but there were times that I became aware that I was not in it 100 percent. I would then re-evaluate and work through those fears to then give more of myself. I always gave 100 percent of what I knew I had to give.
RJ mentioned that there were times that I would talk about the future in what if's in not being certain if we would be together or not. And then it hit me as for part of my role. I talked in what if's because I was afraid of chasing RJ away in pushing too much too soon or in getting ahead of myself. I just felt like I was not in a place to really talk about marriage with having to finish grad school. I later told RJ I was terribly sorry for that. I did not mean to give him mixed messages about if we could have a future together. But I also told him that it took time for me to get to that place to be ready and that was a large part of what I was trying to get at when I admitted my feelings to him in wanting more, more with him. But part of me now wonders, if he really wanted more then, why didn't he just say it or ask about it? Why did he not question or address it with me?
RJ also added that it is not about being afraid of him getting hurt. He said that he was holding back because he was afraid of me getting hurt. He said how he did not want to hurt me like how my ex hurt me. RJ said in all that I shared he was able to see how devastating it was for me, or in his words--destroyed me. He said it must be so difficult for my family and friends to see me in another relationship and ask what will happen if it happens again? I told him I knew I should not have told him, but he said no that he wanted to understand who I was and where I was coming. To his credit, he did listen well. And what I did share with RJ was not every detail, but it was more in that I am feeling sad and this is why so that you don't think it is you or this is the lens that I see the world because of my experiences but I make every effort to not project them onto you. I told him that I knew I was still processing the loss during our relationship and I did not want it to be unfair to him. And in some ways there was no way to process certain things related to my past relationship without being in a new and serious relationship. But I told RJ that I also feel that I have grown, become stronger and moved through it. I asked him if he had read the entry about the dream and he said no. I feel frustrated that RJ does not seem to recognize the new strength and confidence within me.
And still it remains that RJ says he just does not want to hurt me like how I have been in the past. Again, I could go round and round on that one, but his mind is made up. It is not my job to convince him to be with me.
On a final note, RJ said that if I walk away with nothing else, it is that he wants me to know that the relationship ending is not because of something that I did or did not do. He feels that we both did everything that we could have done, even with trying to replay or find certain moments that could have gone another way. He feels we both acted in ways that were true to ourselves and in giving as much love as we could give. Was it timing? Did he not feel safe coming to me to show his vulnerability?
Before I left, we hugged once more on that back porch landing under a bright blue sky. It was then that I realized how cold I felt from standing outside for as long as we did. I was actually starting to shake.
I am just so very, very sad in that the relationship couldn't work and that it has to end. I just do not get it. I do not understand how you can love someone and walk away. I am deeply saddened that he cannot see my strength and resolve. However, during this conversation and in wrapping up I shared with RJ how much his words from our last conversation meant to me. It was real.