He’s got his head between his hands as he sits next to me on the couch, telling me that he really was planning on ending things that night, and he really did stand on the bridge and look down at the water and rocks below. He says he found the perfect spot. The perfect rock that would ensure he wouldn’t survive. He’s looking up into the distance now, emotion in his voice. I take his hand in mine, I try to choke back tears as I tell him that there’s a reason it didn’t happen - there’s a reason that guy showed up at just the right time, when nearly all of downtown was deserted. He’s lucky he didn’t get robbed or hurt, but it goes beyond luck that he was in the right place at the right time to meet someone who could take his mind off that. Even if it hadn’t been me.
I tell him how worried I was. I don’t want to make him feel guilty at all for contacting me - I am thankful with everything I have inside me that he did… But I need him to know that I was worried and imagining the worst and how I tried so hard to get to him in time. We hadn’t had a chance the entire night to even address it yet. The entire night had already seemed like it happened over the course of several years, and I didn’t know how to say everything that I felt inside me.
He says that he is so tired of being in pain, of hurting, of people hating him, tired of ruining things, of failing at things… He says he’s just tired and exhausted and done, and doesn’t have anything to look forward to, and that there’s no hope for him. I of course tell him all of this is wrong, and try to list reasons things will get better and be okay. But, it just doesn’t seem to be helping that much.
He looks at me and starts in with his mantra: That he is a piece of shit, that I shouldn’t care about him as much as I do, that I should be with someone else, that I would hate him like everybody else does if I was around him more. I try to tell him that I will never hate him, and explain to him that I understand more about him and know more than he thinks I do, and say that I love him unconditionally.
He hates when I say that. He scoffs. He says there’s no such thing as unconditional love, that all love is conditional. I know that there are a lot of people who don’t believe in unconditional love, but I believe in it in regards to the love I have for him…
He says that I put him on a pedestal, that I see him for better than he really is, that I don’t know what he is truly like and can’t understand him....
”…And THAT is why I will never be able to love you” he says with a loud sigh.
Before I have a chance to recover from what just felt like a forceful slap across my stunned face, he corrects himself:
“I DO love you. That’s not what I meant. I love you, but I will never be able to BE with you because of that”.
As soon as I can gather myself after hearing that, I say that I don’t believe I put him on a pedestal, that maybe in the past I did, and in certain ways, I might see him for what his potential is, but that LOVING him despite his “flaws”, “addictions” and “mistakes” isn’t putting him on a pedestal. That would mean that I didn’t believe he had any flaws, that I thought he was perfect, or a shining example of what a partner should be, ignoring anything he’s done… And that just ISN’T the case.
I explain to him that I know full well the things he’s done, both good, bad and ugly. He has told me so much, more than maybe he even remembers at this point - he has told me things I never needed or wanted to know… And I have seen many things that I never wanted to see, things I can’t forget. I know him so well that I can read him, and the things I haven’t seen with my own eyes, I can infer from the things he says, the way he acts, the things I observe. And not all of these things are good. There are things I don’t agree with that he’s done, there are things he’s done that have directly hurt me, and a lot of the time just loving him hurts me. Yet, I do it anyway because… Because I love him. Unconditionally. And it doesn’t make me blind, it doesn’t make me delusional, it doesn’t mean I excuse everything he’s done, or everything he will do in the future. It means that despite all of those things, I love him and I would never want to hurt him or walk away from him.
My heart is a worn-out dirt road full of potholes and lined with weeds and dead wildflowers. And yet when I’m with him, he’s warm like the sun and makes me feel brand new and beautiful. He makes the flowers bloom in my soul. He fills the holes in my heart. He does those things by being himself. Flaws and all. My soul loves him, my heart wants him, and it also breaks over and over again for the things we’ve been through, and the things he is currently going through.
I have cried an ocean’s worth of tears for him, stayed up worrying nights for him, I’ve picked him up after he’s been in fights with his exes, I have seen him angry, I have seen him drunk, I have seen him passed out on the floor, I’ve broken into his room to make sure he was still breathing, I have held him as he cried, I have rubbed his back as he puked, I have cried with him and listened to every single confession he’s made - and never stopped loving him. Never judged him. Never did it make me think I couldn’t be with him. Because I love him. I love him. I fucking love him and I know who he is and it’s not going to change. It hasn’t yet, it never will.
Despite all that, I can’t form the words to say everything I want to. I just manage to say:
“I just never thought that loving you too much would be my downfall. I never would have guessed that the reason you wouldn’t want to be with me, is because I loved you too much and was too loyal… it’s unbelievable.”
It seems like we go ‘round and ‘round with this same conversation all too often, but never before has he said that he CAN’T be with me. He has said before that he is afraid to or made excuses as to why we shouldn’t, but this was so blunt and straightforward. I felt like I’d been kicked in the stomach, I felt like blood should be pouring from my mouth, I was surprised I hadn’t dropped dead to the floor the minute he said he couldn’t love me.
I ask him why he is so afraid of me hating him that he won’t be with me, but yet he dates other people? He says it’s different with them because they don’t have preconceived notions of him, so it doesn’t hurt as bad when they end up hating him. He says that the time we spend together is too picture-perfect, that he always has a good time, that it’s not what real life would be like, and that’s not what being around him every day would be like.
I tell him that I don’t think every day would be like our clandestine nights together. That I was never under a preconceived notion that a life with him would be that easy and care-free. It’s just that we spend so little time together, that we don’t fill our time with the boring mundane everyday problems of life. If we were together more, those things would come up.
I go on to tell him that it’s not fair that he never gave me a shot, never gave me a chance… and if he wanted me to let him go so badly, that he should give me the chance to hate him. If he REALLY thinks that being with me would make me “hate” him, then why wouldn’t he let me have the opportunity to experience that myself and choose to leave? Instead of leaving things they are right now, when I’m just left in limbo waiting.
He has no answer for that in the moment. Maybe because he’s not sure I’d even hate him then, if he finally gave me the chance to. He can’t even use that to justify why he won’t be with me.
Somehow I still sat there and held his hand. Rubbed his back. Wiped his tears. listened to him talk some more about the hopelessness of life, even listened to him talk about his ex and former relationship. Even after all that, I sat there and gave every last bit of strength I had left in my body that night to him. After the worry and the river and driving in circles and finding him with a friend, and spending the night at his house avoiding what had just happened - I wasn’t sure where the strength to stay upright was coming from, but I managed it. I was on a second or third wind. Perhaps his life source was flowing into me, somehow keeping me breathing and in one piece, as he often does when I’m falling apart.
All I know is that I CHOOSE to love him. I CHOOSE every day to keep on loving him. It’s not an act or an illusion or a delusion - It’s not always easy and he isn’t perfect and he doesn’t make it EASY to love him some days… But it’s a choice I have made. And will keep on making. I will work through my frustration and anger and hurt because what we do have has always been worth the effort. He is worth the fucking effort. Despite what anyone thinks or says, despite what his exes say - I am the one living this life with him, and no one can possibly know what it’s been like for us… I am the only one who can say how my heart feels and what is right for me.
Eventually we’re all “talked out” and he asks if I want to lay down and watch a movie with him. I tell him that I’d like to, and that I needed to leave by 10 AM, so I’d set my alarm in case we fell asleep. It was about 6 AM at this point, and despite the craziness of the night, nothing sounded better than cuddling in bed with him and watching a movie, feeling the heat of his body against me, the beating of his heart, his breath on my neck… So warm, so alive… When I had been rushing down to the bridge in my car 5 hours earlier, I would have not imagined the night ending this way. In this perfectly simple way. His strong arms around me, staying there with me, surviving another day. The only thing I wanted was for time to stop, to leave us there for longer than a couple short hours, to perhaps spend lifetimes with him laying there, knowing just where he was, knowing he was safe.
When the time came for me to leave, I really didn’t want to. I wished I could stay. I worried for him. I stopped on my way out, touching his shoulder and saying that I was really glad to have found him that night, and that I know he’s here for a reason. I say that he can contact me anytime, for anything, and that he needed to invite me back over soon to finish the movie we’d started, but didn’t see all of, (out of both distraction, and running out of time).
He promises we will talk soon - and that was just over 2 weeks ago now. I haven’t seen him since, but he’s kept in touch. Some nights are rougher than others, sometimes he barely wants to talk… other times he seems upset. I hope we can see each other soon, I hope he somehow starts to let me in a bit more - but even if I am only the person he reaches out to when he is at his lowest, when he feels like he can’t contact anyone else, when he’s standing on the bridge overlooking the river and somehow I’m the thought in his head - I will be that for him. I will be whatever he wants me to be - but I will never not be his. I will never not be there when he needs someone.
I’m praying every day that he doesn’t go back to the bridge, and that he always tries to contact me when he’s feeling low, or before making a decision like that. Despite everything, I truly don’t know what I’d do without him. Even if we rarely talked anymore, or if we never saw each other at all - knowing he’s here, alive, safe, and happy… that has always kept me going. If he is gone, there will be a void I cannot ever hope to fill.
Please, stay here with me.
Last updated August 10, 2020