Maybe this is karma.  Perhaps the universe finally banded together and chose to strike back, so sick and tired it was of your brazen and far-reaching selfishness. 

The fault?  Yours. 

The fallout?  Ours. 

That bubbling cauldron of foul-smelling hatred?  I’ll carry it today – and I’ll try not to spill.

Where do you go from here? Me?  I’m grieving the death of someone who’s very much still alive, someone I thought I loved with my entire heart.  A reconciliation does not seem likely because – maybe finally – I’ve simply had enough.  Look:  we all tell lies.  More often, we all tell quarter-truths.  But this goes farther; this is about nothing but a blazing pit of betrayal that hasn’t even fully caught up to you yet.  I will not be beside you when it finally does.

As I stand today, I wouldn’t cry at your funeral.  I wouldn’t speak testaments to your character.  The days when I was your defender and supporter have scattered into the past and rain emotional debris on everyone who believed you when you said we would never need an umbrella.   

There is a lot that’s not being said and even more that I refuse to listen to.  My tendency to avoid pain has taken over completely.  I will not talk.  I said what I needed to say and anything else will just be a better-articulated summation about the ways in which you hurt me.  I won’t listen to the excuses, the justifications, the words I will always weigh from this point forward on that suspicion scale my brain is really fucking tired of lugging around.  Maybe, I thought to myself this morning, it would be best to just stay inside. The world feels too harsh today. Anyone who doesn’t believe that is someone who has never met you. 

I’m not stupid, you know.  I saw the signs.  I filed them away carefully.  I even came out and directly asked if the thoughts that had caused all my anxiety were real.  I was assured that I should believe you.  Since that was the answer I so badly wanted to receive, I guess I bought it.  I continued to adore you.  I thought about you every day and included you in my prayers every night.  I wished hard that it could be the way it used to be, that I had appreciated those days more than I was capable of doing at the time.

This is nothing new, though.  You’ve hurt a lot of people through the years.  Many returned to you because your lure is strong, your love comforting.  Here’s something I knew the second I met you:  not many get close.  But I also knew this:  I don’t back down easily from a motherfucking challenge.

I got in.  I saw with clear eyes that gaining emotional access was harder than it should have been.  I questioned your motives until I finally taught myself to stifle them.  It wasn’t all a fantasy – I’d still say that now.  What we were to one another was real.  Who we are to one another right now?  That’s hard to figure out in the depths of all this unrelenting silence.

I’ve spent some time recently berating myself for valuing the act of forgiveness.  It’s a quality I learned early, one I credit to moving forward in my life and my relationships.  Sure, there are times when I’m flat-ironing my hair or walking the dog when I’ll have what feels like a smash cut to the past and I can see something hazy in the distance and it’s a memory that still hurts in the present, but I usually just shake my head or put on sunglasses and when I look up again, it’s not there.  If I had a superpower, I guess it would be psychological telekinesis.  I can move a memory until I can’t see it anymore unless I turn around really fast.

But this?  I don’t think I can forgive this.  And I don’t think I want to, even though the thought of this loss being permanent rattles every inch of my heart and dulls the portion of my mind where I keep the pictures of better times:  the long conversations about politics; the sushi dinners with just you and me; the times I’d rub your cold feet and ask you about your work and watch your face as we discussed everything and anything.  The awareness that I knew you thought I was really intelligent, a quality you found lacking in so many others.  The affection that was shown both ways.  The look on your face as you unwrapped a gift I’d worked hard to buy.  The smile that assured me that you would be in my life forever.

Mourning the living is complicated. I’ve dabbled in denial and then catapulted to anger.  I know there is no point in bargaining, so I’m prepared to skip that step completely.  The problem, of course, is that what’s coming up next is bound to be a depression, and I’m furious enough in this second to refuse to allow myself to succumb to such a feeling.  You’ve already stolen a lot; my peace of mind is something you will not get to possess.

The worst of all is that I’m not that surprised.  I knew.  I knew the second I met you that you’d bring chaos to my world.  Still, I loved you enough to open myself to the tornado you are and I latched onto what I thought was something stable so my hair would look good once the fierce winds calmed to a breeze of nothingness.  Many wonderful things came into my life because of you, but I think I’d give all of them away if only I could reverse time and make it so you were never around.  I think I’d sleep better that way.

But this too is true:  everyone is flawed.  I am moody and sometimes very judgmental.  I speak my mind when maybe I should just keep quiet.  I contemplate not going outside if I don’t like the way I look in the morning.  I give people too many chances.  When I’m scared, I turn icy cold and I won’t let anyone in because that person might try to thaw me and I’m afraid of what can happen if I ever really allowed myself to melt.  So no, a flawed creature like me never expected you to be without flaws.  But I also never expected that your flaws would be so flagrantly hurtful.  I never expected that you wouldn’t even bother to wrestle with the magnitude of your deceptions.  I never expected that, at your core, you are nothing but a common fool.

There’s no doubt that I’m currently engulfed in an avoidance avalanche of my own making, but I suppose it’s not nearly as bad as it could be.  I’ve spoken to friends.  I’ve shared the truth.  I’ve acknowledged – to others and to myself – that your choices have nothing to do with me.  Those were your demons that incited these actions, not someone else’s shortcomings.  Rarely has something been that fucking obvious.  Still, I’ve turned my focus to the things I can control.  I’ve cleaned every inch of my home and then sprawled across the pristine floor and did leg lifts and squats so my body could be the thing to hurt just for a second.  I’m getting a facial on Monday because I literally want to shed these skins.  I made a joke at your expense the other day and heard the sadness in the laugh on the other end of the line.

I felt tears sting my eyes when I took a shower.  When I got out, I wrapped myself in a yellow towel and grabbed my phone.  I almost Googled, “How to destroy someone’s life forever,” as my wet hair dripped onto my bare shoulders.  Then I reminded myself that I am just not that kind of person.  Besides, the universe already did it for me.