This past September my first real relationship came to an end. And as you can imagine the breakup wasn’t a pleasant one. In fact, the conversation ended with me sobbing hysterically in my bedroom as my ex walked out of the door and out of my life. To this day we haven’t spoken and while I think that there will come a time that we can, I don’t think that day has come.

My ex did not know that I had wanted to break up when I told him that I wanted to talk. Just a few days earlier we had gotten into an ugly fight but afterwards we had smoothed things out and appeared to be no worse for the wear. Unfortunately, that wasn’t true for me. I so desperately wanted to convince myself and him that I could make things work. I felt that after nine months of dating and after the kindness he showed me that he deserved my best effort in salvaging the relationship. I realized, however, that it would be impossible for me to salvage the relationship because I was no longer present in it. I was no longer the person I was when we had started dating. For whatever reason, I was no longer happy when we were together. I didn’t miss him when we spent weeks apart and I found myself snapping at him and acting like an all around miserable person. I was constantly anxious and irritated, overwhelmed by my feelings of confusion regarding the relationship as well as my growing depression.  To put it simply, I hated who I was when we were together.

I’m not the romantic type. I don’t feel comfortable with PDA and I’m not one for adorable gestures or gift giving. My ex is the opposite. He’s the kind of guy who drop everything for you if you needed him to and he loved showing people how much he appreciated them. And part of my anxiety stemmed from this feeling that I was always playing emotional catch up with him. When he first told me he loved me, I told him I didn’t feel that way yet. Whenever he showed me affection I struggled with being able to reciprocate it. And it made me feel like I was defective. I felt like something must have been wrong with me, that I was incapable of expressing love or giving love. I felt like I was broken, only capable of being loved until the other person wised up enough to know I’d never be able to return it. And worst of all, I felt like I was a waste of time. I can’t even verbalize the guilt I felt over our relationship, specifically how I felt that he deserved so much better than me.

My ex made it very clear that he loved me and that he knew it would take time for me to open up more. He said he was patient and willing to wait for me. But I couldn’t do that. I couldn’t let him wait for me to become the type of boyfriend he deserved, especially when I wasn’t sure if I’d ever even become that type of boyfriend. The last thing I wanted was to make him wait around for something that was never going to happen. And you know, when we first started dating, I always feared I’d end up the villain. And unfortunately I feel like I did. I feel that I wasted his time by not releasing him sooner. While we had good times, I knew early on that the relationship wouldn’t last forever. But I think I held onto the relationship because I didn’t want to end up the villain. I wanted to convince myself that I would make things work, that I would end up being as romantic and affectionate as needed, and that I wouldn’t have so many hesitations. That never happened though. But I find some comfort in knowing that my intentions were complex, not ill. I didn’t set out to hurt him, it was an unintended side affect of the issues I have going on. And just knowing that I didn’t try to hurt him, that I did have good intentions, reminds me that maybe I’m not as broken as I thought.

It is strange to no longer have someone in your life who meant so much to you. My ex was the first person I loved, the first person I had sex with, the first person who made me feel like I was desirable enough to be wanted. And while I’m sad how things ended and that we haven’t spoken, I am grateful for the relationship. Even though things ended badly I don’t regret being with him or let the breakup color my feelings about him. I’ve realized that in relationships we learn  a lot about ourselves and while this was a painful lesson, I am thankful for it.

I’ve been on my own for almost two months and I’m finally starting to feel like myself again. I’m less anxious, more upbeat and feeling less existential about whether or not I’m “good” or “evil”. And while it would be nice to have a guy buy me dinner or tell me he loves me, I think I need some time to do those things for myself. This is my selfish stage, the time where I find out what I want and how I can go about getting what I want. I don’t have time to factor someone else into the equation and I’ve accepted that I don’t have the emotional energy to be with someone else. And that doesn’t mean I’m broken. It means I’m not at a place in my life to be anything else than a friend, student, son or brother. And I’m okay with that.