By John Ptacek
I’m breaking up with you.
No more circular discussions, no more eleventh hour recriminations. We’re through.
This is not an emotional decision. Actually, it doesn’t feel like a decision at all. We’ve been drifting apart for quite some time now, and more than anything I’m just acknowledging the distance between us. Whatever kept us together just isn’t there anymore.
It won’t do you any good to turn on the charm. Don’t bother trying to fill my head with thoughts about how great we are together or how lost I’ll be without you. You no longer have that kind of power over me. I see right through you now. I look, and there’s nothing there.
It took me a long time to figure you out. Like so many other unhappy couples I know, we drifted into our own little world and for the longest time I mistook it for reality. If you asked me to pinpoint the day this shift occurred, I couldn’t, because it happened so long ago. But I vaguely remember what life was like before I met you. Actually, it’s more a feeling than a memory. A feeling of freedom. Not a “I-have-a-whole-weekend-in-front-of-me-with-no-plans” kind of freedom, but something different altogether. It’s more a sense of spaciousness, the kind children must feel before their heads become filled with worldly nonsense, before their sense of wonder contracts, before they begin to imitate the behavior of the troubled souls around them.
I can feel that sense of spaciousness right now when I close my eyes and forget that I have a body. It’s like I’m not even a person anymore, I’m just this space that goes on forever.
I don’t expect any of this makes sense to you. It never has before. You always have to define things, slot them into categories. But this isn’t something that is easily explained. It’s beyond words– I know, I know, you hate it when I talk like this, when I challenge your black and white view of things. You always get really quiet.
In the old days I would have misinterpreted your silence. I would have felt wrong, even a little crazy, for expressing myself like this. Now that silence suggests something different. It suggests that I threaten you. Am I right? And your silnece tells me something else, something really important. It tells me that I’m perfectly capable of living on my own. When your voice dies away, my voice appears. It’s just there. It’s probably been there the whole the time, but you were always drowning it out. It’s a clear voice. A strong voice. I’m going to be just fine without you.
My friends think I’m crazy. They wonder what I’m going to do without you. They’ve seen what happens when we’re together, the crazy highs and lows, the bizarre behavior, but they still question my decision. This really throws me until I remind myself what it was like to live in an unhealthy relationship. You don’t know it’s unhealthy, and that’s the problem. You talk about happiness but you never never get to touch it. It’s something that’s supposed to happen in the future. Month after month, year after year, you think – it’ll get better, we’ll work this out. But it doesn’t get better. It can’t. Sick relationships like ours don’t get better, they just get sicker.
It’s a small world and no doubt we’ll be running into each other. I guess it’s more “see you around” then it is “goodbye”. At the right distance, we’ll be fine. I need to be far enough away from you to hear the sound of my own voice. I actually wouldn’t mind your company once in a while, like when I’m fixing the sink or packing for a trip. We get along pretty well in those instances. But this time around, you’ll need an invitation. You can’t just come barging in. You don’t live here anymore.
Pack up your things and leave your key on the table. When I come home later, all I want to hear is the sound of you being gone. I to melt into the silence. I want to lose track of where I begin and end, and this time I will do it with my eyes open. You said something once. You said I’m nothing without you. Remember? Well, you were right. I am nothing without you. Thank you for helping me discover this important truth.
About John Ptacek:
My life has been enriched by the teachings of wise men and women, and my essays attempt to demystify these sometimes cryptic teachings so that more may be exposed to their wisdom. They appear on my website, On Second Thought, www.johnptacek.com. I live in Wisconsin with my wife, Kitty.