I am normally good at getting cards before the actual date of things. I try my best to write heartfelt messages, and really minimize any involvement with cards where I feel I have to fake it. I loathe fake people and the artifice they bring, and I try to avoid any interactions where I may potentially have to fake it.
However, I did not get a card ahead of time for today. It is the 6 year anniversary of being together for me and JL. I have mixed feelings about it; at best, I am neutral. The past three years, especially this last one, have not been great.
How bad was it? I tried to break up with him a few weeks ago, not wanting another year of misery. Things that held me back and made the talk most difficult: 1. social pressure (having to explain it didn’t work out to everyone, especially family), 2. the unaffordable cost of living in this area if we separate and one of us has to move out of the apartment we share.
If you hurt a person enough, if you break their heart too many times, if you let them down too many times, they will stop feeling anything for you. That is where I am at right now with JL.
But when he cried and fell to pieces in front of me, it felt impossible to break up. I know he loves me, and I loved him too, once. Despite our previous serious talks, it finally seemed like this talk, this one finally sunk in that I am not putting up with the status quo anymore: I say maybe we want different things in life and should go our separate ways; we both should be happy, but it seems impossible for us to make each other happy and have a relationship. I suggest maybe we are better off as friends.
As he finally realized how serious I was that something has to change, I was not sure that it wasn’t already too late, and I am still uncertain. We agreed to try, to give it one more chance…
And JL is trying. I can see it. I am trying but still not feeling. I was honest with him when we had our serious talk. I am numb.
(As a comical note: all three cats were concerned and acting weird as we sat and cried at our kitchen table. The youngest crawled into my lap, looking sad, and he never sits in my lap or approaches me. Who knew cats could add social pressure to stay in a relationship?)
So this morning, I stop at a card shop on my way to work, realizing I at least need to pick up a card. Immediately I am hit with the mother’s day section, reminded that I should pick up cards for that while I am here, one for my mom and one for JL’s mom.
The thought of picking up a card for JL’s mom (a very sweet woman) immediately makes me want to puke. I have picked out cards for her before, but I realize buying one makes me further feel suffocated and trapped. It adds to the social pressure of staying together.
Fighting off the waves of nausea, I grab two cards to get it over and done with and head to the anniversary section.
I find myself repulsed and more nauseous by the repeated formulas I see in cards:
“To my one and only true love”
“Grateful for another year at your side and looking forward to the next”
“To a lifetime together”
None of them make me feel any better about needing to select a card. Where’s the section for “We’re together but I am not sure it’s going to work out” anniversary cards?
I settle for the least nauseating sentiment I can tolerate, which I think is a card meant to be given by someone to a couple celebrating their anniversary “Warmest wishes for another year of love and laughter.”
All day I have been filled with a mix of sadness and dread. Three years ago, if he had asked me to marry him, and I wanted him to ask, I would have said yes. But to ask me now would be a mistake. I would hear the sound of my death knell to say yes, and I can’t do that to myself.
I realize this all makes it more crazy that we are still in a relationship, but I am a woman of my word. I said I would try, and I shall.
Somewhere the clock keeps ticking, those grains of sand are collapsing upon themselves in an hour glass. I watch and wait.