If I’m being honest, I took pride that you were the first of us to break.
It was always me, before.
To know you was to be conflicted, every way, all the time. I knew, deep in my body where my conscience lives, that every touch and kiss was a lie. Every time our eyes met across the room, every time we let our clothes fall to the floor, I knew it was all wrong.
So some part of me tried. That logical, moral, honest core of me tried my hardest to let go of you. I did it to myself, to you, over and over and over again. I must have told you a dozen times that I was done. I told you this was wrong, it should never have started, I was walking away, I was going to be the stronger person and leave for good.
Only I didn’t stay away for long, did I? Whenever I left, I came back to you.
It was your humor, I think. You always said the most joyously unexpected things. It startled a laugh from me on more than one occasion. I laughed because I couldn’t help it; I never had to pretend you were funny. I don’t even think I would describe you as funny, it’s not the word that comes to mind. But you surprised me into laughter a lot.
I think you loved me because I didn’t love you for your looks. You had them, and everyone noticed, and I won’t exclude myself from that. I’d never lie and say I didn’t know you were handsome. You were sexy as hell, and I was aware of it, but it was never my favorite thing about you, and I think that’s why you broke your own rule and slept with me. Girls flirted with you every day, but I got to know you.
I really still don’t know why I was shocked by the way it ended. Knowing everything you and I had done, I was perhaps the very best equipped to know, ahead of time, that it’s something you would do.
If someone had told me this story about you, objectively, I would have said, “Yes, that sounds exactly like something he’d do.”
But it’s different when you are the lips being kissed, and it’s the man you love who decides to marry someone else, because you’re so scared of marriage that you panic when the subject is brought up. It’s different. There is no objective way to look at the situation when you are anything but objective; when there’s so much love and confusion and betrayal and nostalgia connecting you.
So when you said you’d given her a ring, and I said goodbye, I knew that I finally meant it. Something broke in me when you told me, and I understood that it was the end of us, of the complications that made our relationship what it had always been.
I went a full year and never contacted you, and I felt so free. A victory that I didn’t celebrate, because you finally weren’t important enough in my heart to merit that much effort.
A week later, you sent me a message; you reached out first.
And I didn’t answer. I really don’t think I ever will.
No matter what happens, though, I will always carry with me the knowledge that you broke first.