to death because I was losing the very thing Jermaine and Deepak Chopra believed was essential to anyone's well-being. Control.
The mere fact that the occurrence or absence of his calls, his texts, or his Facebook comments could respectively make or break my day was in itself detrimental. When I felt myself losing control over our interactions, our conversations, and my own feelings, I fought hard the temptation to push him away before someone could get seriously hurt, and by someone, I meant me. It felt much like I was a child again racing too fast on my bicycle in the middle of traffic. If I didn't stop this charade, I was going to end up with a badly bruised knee, or a broken leg, or a broken heart.
I was not in love with Jermaine. But I found myself attached to the idea of him and with attachments, come expectations. And with expectations, disappointment. It first came on a day I’d worn my good heels to work, black pantyhose and the turtleneck with the back cut out with plans to see him later. But instead, a late night at work on his part drove me to drink and I spent my night crying a river into a crevice in my best friend's sweater trying to make sense of my feelings.
The second time it happened was the day before Thanksgiving. I hadn't seen him in weeks, and the approaching holidays meant both our schedules would be busy so that Wednesday presented a unique opportunity. I was sitting at my desk, my workday winding down when he telephoned.
"I want to see you tonight Jermaine," I said. "Tonight I'm tired. Didn't sleep much last night. I need a nap."
I told him the physical relationship was only complicating matters. I told him I was a handful of work, and that he should evaluate if that is something he can handle. I told him that I was looking out for him but really, I was looking out for me since his walking away would hurt me less if I told him to go. I had developed a habit of giving men a laundry list of everything that was wrong with me in the beginning. This way, if they stayed, they couldn't say that I didn't warn them.
I cry a lot. And I'm moody. I have children. And a lot of bags.
He stayed, but the disappointments were frequent, stacked one on top of the other like a game of Jenga, and I began to wonder if he was only keeping me around for his pleasure, an added bonus at the end of the work day. I felt like I was an afterthought and when I took a closer look at what the future might hold, the forecast was bleak. Dating Jermaine was not easy. It was instead a pulling of teeth that often left me with sore gums and not much else. He simply did not want from me what I needed from him. Letting him go became a necessity.
I stopped taking his calls and answering his text messages. I disappeared without providing him an explanation because in that, I gained back some of the control I had since lost. I'm a Cancer. We are both independent and emotionally needy at the same time. We don't need someone to take care of us. We just need someone to want to. I retreated to a secluded corner of my world in the weeks after my decision. I lay down at night, first telling myself not to cry, and then concluding it may feel better, before erupting, a cascade of tears soaking my face. I missed him. I missed our intellectual conversations and his talks of far-off countries. I missed ordering in, and making love. I missed even those things I hated, like his over attention to detail and his sexual innuendos. I tried aspirin for the headaches it brought, and Pepto-Bismol to settle my stomach. But I found no relief for the pain in my heart, and resorted to Google for a solution.
It was there I learned that missing someone does not mean they are supposed to be in your life. I reread the self-help books Jermaine spoke of and was reminded to choose my feelings. Yet, while I did try, pretending not to be affected only hurt more, like I was bottling my emotions and holding my breath. Somehow, the tears brought solace.
I decided to focus on my children and my writing, and it became painfully obvious how easily I was able to communicate on paper the very things I could not say to Jermaine. Then I picked up a magazine one day and the words popped off the page: “You cannot have a healthy relationship until you are first in love with yourself.”