Whew, tough one from Lellan, about what happened between me and Chad.
I honestly have no idea how to answer this. But I will give it a shot.
My instinct is to say “we grew apart” but I’m not sure if we ever grew together in the first place. We were an odd match, to say the least, although we had some hobbies (mainly acting, reading, and roleplaying) in common. He is much more outdoorsy, having grown up in rural Florida, while I am much more urban-oriented, preferring museums and bookstores to hikes and campgrounds. I fell for him – hard – at a time in my life when I was directionless and unhappy. He is incredibly charismatic and focused, and was very persistent in wooing me. At the time I wanted so desperately to be wooed in order to feel good about myself again.
Problems arose because we were both young, and I relied heavily on him for many things, and he stood up to the challenge by taking care of many things for me. Instead of me gradually learning to do things for myself, turning into the beautiful, independent woman he wanted to be with, I kept relying on him because I wanted that connection with him. Also, I was pretty scared to do much of anything for myself; it was safer for me to let him do it. For his part, he kept taking care of me instead of gently pushing me to stand on my own two feet, because I believe he got a large chunk of his identity from being my protector. Because of this power structure that I didn’t wholly understand, we got set in roles that neither of us really wanted to play. Or at least I did not want to play my role, and I did not want him to play his.
And then some bad things happened. I don’t really want to get into them because I feel it’s rude to rehash the intimate details of past relationships. Suffice it to say that trust was broken, and as a result we distanced ourselves from each other, and that was really the beginning of the end. I cannot abide emotional distance in a relationship. It stretches my heart out like taffy, confuses me, and hurts more than most aches I can think of. So once the distance was there, I was unhappy with the relationship, and took it upon myself to initiate lots of talks about how it was not going well, which seemed to him to be “picking fights” (perhaps it was, to get him to talk to me). More and more distance ensued.
There is no doubt in my mind and heart that I loved him. But my mistake was compromising myself, bit by bit, to satisfy the changes that took place in the relationship after trust was broken. I was so angry about what had been lost between us that I was unable to forgive him. So I became a martyr for the cause, instead of asserting myself and establishing boundaries and limitations. I worked at it every moment just to keep the relationship at status quo. I was willing to give up anything, any part of myself, just so we would be together forever, and then I reached a point when there was nothing left of myself to give up. There was nothing left to fight for, and my heart, which had been so precariously balanced to begin with, dropped and shattered. And that was it for me. I could not stay and survive; I chose to survive. This all sounds so dramatic, I’m sure, but that’s because it was the most difficult thing I have ever done.
I know he loved me. I know that by divorcing him, I hurt him deeper than anyone ever had. I take responsibility for that, but the guilt I once felt has faded. I know that he is happier now, just as I am happier, now that we no longer have to force ourselves into roles we could not properly play. I will always miss him and appreciate the level of support he gave me; before things fell apart, he was one of the best friends I have ever had. We just were not meant to love each other as more than friends, and we learned that truth the very hardest way: by causing each other pain.
Perhaps this doesn’t exactly answer the question, because I am unwilling to go into specific and gory detail, but I hope it suffices.