There is a running joke in the family about my commitment issues that I can’t even commit to a piercing. Truth be told I have a piercing and a tattoo… Which adds to the joke. It took me two years to get my belly button piercing, which can be removed. The tattoo, however, was an ordeal; it took me ten years to finally commit and fulfill. These committments only affected me. Add in another person, gee willickers, I’m fucked.
I have only ever been in one (real) committed relationship. The fact of the matter is we broke up two and a half years ago. I have dated my fair share of people since then. In hindsight, I was trying to move on. It hasn’t worked. I have been pinning my singleness on commitment issues, but truth be told it has nothing to do with issues of the commitment variety. Instead it has everything to do with the fact I have been committed since I was 19. Though I have been single, my heart hasn’t been.
I really do have commitment issues, don’t get me wrong. My ex, asked me to be his girlfriend on New Year’s Eve after spending only a few hours together, I said yes. I had no reservations with him. Even at 19, I did not hop into relationships; I had to be cajoled. My girlfriend status had to be convinced, won over, and an escape plan had to be established. With him he just asked, and I said yes. Simple. It was, and still is, the easiest decision I have ever made. I just knew it was right. I had been in love once before meeting my ex, and I never could commit to the other guy. Deep down, I guess my head knew it was wrong, even if my heart didn’t think so.
It has taken me years to admit how completely in love I am with my college sweetheart. I knew with him right away, but it’s taken me every day since to realize how deep and permanent that love is. I had been fighting it. We’d hurt eachother. Admitting feelings makes me vulnerable, and, oh, he is the only person who can shatter my soul. It’s terrifying. I haven’t been able to give my heart to anyone since him, and I didn’t before him either. I am his entirely, in every way, even though we haven’t been a couple in over two years.
We had a deep connection immediately. Within a month, we had said I love you. Within five months, we were living together. Within six months, he stood by me through the hardest decision I ever made. Within ten months, we owned a car. We moved fast, but I have never once regretted it. Then we kind of fell apart for intensely distinct reasons. The unique thing is we didn’t break up because we fell out of love with eachother. We broke up because we loved eachother so much we couldn’t bear what was happening to us.
My feminism has a hard time admitting this.He saved my life, quite literally. He kept me alive, gave me a roof, a safe place, and support when I had no one. My identity is dependent on him. I have spent my entire adulthood with him; my life revolving around his. He has been at the center of every decision, every action. I have grown up, grown into myself next to him and because of him. It is hard to separate the particles identifying me from those that are him. Five years of my early twenties, is a long time. It was the establishment of an identity. I am not me without him. I am my own person, but I would not be the person I am without his existence. I would be someone very different.
In a month or a month and a half, who knows with the military, I will get to see him for the first time in a year. I haven’t seen him since last Christmas. He just came back from a deployment in Japan. I am absolutely terrified. I love him, that is not in question. It’s been a year, a very long year. I have changed so much. It’s been important for me to have this time without him. A time of discovery. Discovering who I am, what I want, what I can do. It’s not like his life stagnated either. He’s had a year to discover and change, as well. It’s a long time to be away, and we only have a weekend to get reacquainted.
Sometimes I wonder if he stopped being in love with me years ago, or if he has only ever been in love with the 19-year-old version of myself. Part of me hopes he doesn’t love me because I know his life would be infinitely easier without me. Still, I am terrified he won’t like the me I am now. If he doesn’t, I will pick up the pieces and move on with the help of my poor best friend who has been watching this train wreck in slow motion. But I am in love with him. I have finally accepted the severity of my feelings. They aren’t going away. They just grow stronger. Even when I have spent the last six months waiting on baited breath for a Facebook message saying “lol,” “ok,” or “love ya.” He’s never been a man of many words, but distance is hard going off of just that. So if there’s nothing else, that’s proof enough I love him.
The hard part is: I don’t know if he’s the one I should be with. Intellectually, I should move on. My heart, however, is not moving on anytime soon. He loves me; he wouldn’t have stood by through my shitstorm otherwise. He used to give me everything I needed. Now, we’ve changed so much. There’s been so much hurt. When he looks at me, I feel love but mostly resentment for the things I did, had to do. He doesn’t give me the things I need anymore. I’m not really sure when it stopped, but it’s been a long time. He doesn’t fight for me. I’ve been fighting for us, and I want someone to fight for me now. Maybe he will someday. Maybe we can move forward and be better. Maybe we can’t. Actually, we probably can’t. And my heart has been breaking for years because that’s the reality of having survived what we did. I want to be mad at him, but I can’t because I understand he’s healing.
Here’s the awesome thing about him, he doesn’t read my blog. I can admit my feelings for him up and down until I lose my fingers typing, and he’ll never know. Which means I have to have a conversation with him. He knows I love him, but I don’t think he knows I’m done now. I’m done trying to move on. I’m done not admitting my feelings. I’m done trying to find his replacement. I’m done pretending I’m not committed. Everyone who knows us as a couple has known that for years. People who know me without him have known that for years. People who don’t know me have known that for years. I did not know that for years. Now to tell him….
Belly Button Ring: 2 years
Tattoo: 10 years
Life Partner: 5 years