My job is to leave people’s lives.
I am that person who people think they’ll like, they convince me, even beg me, to stay in their lives, and then one day decide they actually abhor me and push me away with greater intensity than they even reeled me in with.
I’ve got a recent story and it goes as such:
It was a normal August day, the blue glow of early morning light faintly shone through my blinds. It was 5am. I’d been talking to this girl who I really liked (“talking” is a really broad word… I was more pushing her away or ignoring her more than talking to her). I remember thinking, “I like that we are distant. I like that I can keep her ten feet away. I like that this person can be in my life without me being attached, or without them making any promises of being permanent. It’s nice.”
I’d stayed up all night as I usually did during that time in my life. I’d probably fall asleep at 7am and sleep till 12, too.
I looked at my notifications after deeming myself sleepless for that night and saw that she messaged me, “Hey, if you’re up, we can talk.”
But, my job is to protect people from myself and all the things they don’t know about me. They don’t ask for all my burdens; no one knows what they’ve “signed up for” when they friend me, and I know that. So I do my job and keep them away. They’ll realize one day they didn’t want me anyways; not the way I am.
I bet she saw my snapchat story. I’d posted on it earlier, at 3am saying I’d caught the “up all night” bug.
“I’m up, I will be for a while.” She just messaged again, “I can’t sleep.”
I message back, “Hi 🙂 why can’t you sleep?” I think I’m dumb for my reply and frown to myself, half expecting her to not even bother replying. I lay my head back down on my pillow and sigh the “I hate myself, and I hate being myself” kind of sigh.
‘You’re so dumb.’ I say to myself in the dark. ‘You’re ridiculous. No wonder no one likes you. You’re weird as heck.’ I roll over, my frown deepening.
She replies a minute later, “I just can’t. Facetime?”
I tell her I’m sorry she can’t sleep and maybe we can call another time, I’m too tired.
“Oh. Okay” she replies, and our conversation ends there. This is how most of our conversations go. She messages me or I message her and she makes the effort to connect and call, and I shoot it down. I disappoint her a lot that way, and I know it; but I really am exhausted—from being used. Used and left. Getting close, then getting left.
Fast-forward to a month later, she texts me, drunk (because she’s alone, too, and needs the company—this is why I feel bad for the way I ignore her. I’ve still not ever forgiven myself for that, not even all this time later). She tells me about her family and then starts talking about girls and then she tells me about half an hour later, “I should go to sleep before I lose my shot.”
My eyebrows show a look of confusion as I read her message and text back, “Your shot at what?”
She replies instantly, “You.”
Butterflies swarm in my stomach and my cheeks go hot, I feel dizzy and my stomach goes queasy. My hands feel numb and my body feels oddly dismembered. I’m spinning backwards without moving. No one’s ever said that to me before… ever. How does she know she wants me? ‘No, she doesn’t mean it. No one could like you that way. Not if they knew you; not if they got close.’
I texted back, “I’ll always be here tomorrow :)”
“Yes, don’t worry.” I was shaking and I didn’t know why. I’d been treating this girl practically like shit… not being mean to her or anything, but I certainly hadn’t made her feel important or loved (and I suppose that is mean ☹️ cruelty, even). I’d certainly not been good to her. But then I thought, maybe I’m shaking because I want her. I want her and I know I can’t have her. I want her and I know I don’t deserve her. I want her and I know she will leave. Just like everyone else. Just like everyone else. Somehow, a tear I didn’t know was there slipped down my cheek. I instantly gained my composure and wiped it from my face. I can’t feel this way. Not for anyone. I screw shit up that I love. Anything I love that I touch runs, or is ruined, or is screwed over… by me. I can’t be close to her. I can’t touch her. I can’t have her because I love her.
I stare at that grey message bubble for a long time. This is the only time anyone will ever say that to me, “You.” She wanted me. She wanted a shot at me, as if I were some grand thing that was too good to be obtained. But no, I’m just some rotten garbage, and she’ll see that one day. I know she will.
I could just accept the love and be played for a while and feel that love and be cared for and wanted and desired (my eyes fill with unescaping tears), or not put myself through the pain of more loss and keep confusing and hurting her because that is all I can do without hurting us both beyond what she would now imagine. But God I wanted her. I wanted her so bad. She is gentle and kind and caring, protects what’s hers and fights for it… I wanted to be that important to her, but I never would be, and I’d not treated her like I wanted to be important to her.
I guess maybe I had treated her like I was a god… untouchable. Maybe that’s why she thought I was some precious treasure that she needed to have a special invitation for. But that is the opposite of the truth and I knew it. I know it now, too.
Over the next three months she would keep making efforts to woo me. She told me beautiful things I’d never heard before, some of which were: “You’re the one my heart wants.” “I hope you know I’m wrapped around your pinky finger” (that one I barely even believed at all. I had to convince myself with great inner change to trust that one.) “I love you.” An egg forms in my throat. She loved me. Why? What did I do? Why would she love me? Wanting me was odd enough—unheard of, even…but, loving me. Now that… I didn’t know how to believe that. But her months of wooing me slowly tore down my walls. I taped over the mouths of the voices in my head that shouted every insecurity that I should have listened to–I ignored the very things I should have believed and that had protected me all my life. I taped over their mouths to give this love a chance because I craved what she offered me. Love. Forever, at that. Care. Always, deeply, no matter what. A fight…she’d fight for me. Could it really be?
No. And I should have known. I was a fool to believe fairy tales instead of the evidence I’d gathered over all the twenty years of my life. I should have known I’d never be someone’s chosen one. I’d never be the one someone didn’t leave for someone else. I’d never be enough of anything to come close to comparing with all the millions of “better” people out there. The people with qualities that I don’t have. The people who are easier to love and want, who entice with humor and wittiness and a social capacity that I have never possessed. There was one voice that always echoed in my mind that said, “She’ll find someone better. She’ll leave you. She’ll find someone who is more fun to be around, who lives closer, who talks better, who has a prettier laugh and better jokes. She’ll find someone else. You’ll never be unequivocally chosen by her—never unquestioned, never unwavering, never. You aren’t the person anyone can ever choose. You’re special. You’re garbage. You’re not good enough.” But I’d ignore that voice. I’d ignore it because somehow rose colored glasses had been slipped atop my nose and all I could see was the love with which she spoke to me.
But my job is to leave people’s lives and, one day, she decided it was time for me to go. All the love and the desire and everything else vanished. The dancing of my heart stopped and the world was stone-cold, again; just as it always was. Only, this time, it felt colder—colder because I’d somehow become so used to the warmth of her sun.
It was time for me to go, and I was going to be better for this one, I was going to try. She didn’t ask for any of this. She didn’t understand what punishment we both would get for me being in her life. I had to just walk out, I had to just go. That has always been my job. Walk out when no one wants me. Walk out like it’s nothing. Walk out and be good. Walk out because you’re not worth it and no one should have to deal with you or your mess. Walk out, because that is your job; to walk away when no one wants you anymore. Because you are way too much to deal with.
But something inside me had broken, and broken my sensibility, too. I wanted to fix this connection that she grew within me, I wanted to make it all right so I could love again. But I only made a bigger mess, and a bigger and bigger and bigger one yet until we both were chin-deep in messiness.
This is why I can’t get close to people. I get attached. I give them the warnings before we have any kind of connection. I state my fears during our talks. I do what I can to put up signs of the mess to come, but no one listens, no, not one. And this is where we end up, every time. In a big mess like this. And now, the only one who ever loved me, hates me with a greater weight of that with which she loved me.
And now I am not alone—I’ve got an enemy. I am the greatest enemy of someone who once loved me.