Things I want to say to Ex but (mostly) don’t

Do you sometimes miss being near one another? Like, hanging out in bed and being close but not doing anything?

Do you remember that time at that lake in the Wind River Mountains, when that lightning storm was really close by and we were in our tent and there was nowhere else for us to go? I was scared but you weren’t, or at least you weren’t admitting that you were scared. I curled up next to you and closed my eyes and thought, “If this is the end, I’m okay. I’m really happy with the things I’ve gotten to experience in my life and I can’t think of anybody I’d rather face death with than the person next to me.”

I don’t regret that memory, and even now I am happy with the things I’ve gotten to experience in my life. But why did you stop doing things with me?

Why did you cheat on me? I know you’ve told me what drew you to S, but why?

I know I shouldn’t say that S is a shithead, but did you know that she is a shithead? I know she isn’t. But it’s also true that she is. Why did you choose her? Shithead. (And I mean YOU.)

Why can’t I stop asking myself why???

I haven’t changed all that much, but you have.

I looked at our wedding album the other day. I don’t care for most of it (I found the event itself stressful) but I always liked the pages I put together with our wedding vow notes. We wrote them ourselves. I kept my vows to support you in your interests even as I explored my own. You said that you wanted to marry me not because I was the person who shared outdoorsy activities with you, but because I was the person behind those activities. That was the me you said you wanted to marry. I used to wonder what that meant, sometimes. I kind of understood. There’s a way of being in the world, an attitude, a way of interacting with other people and one’s self, that is unique to each individual. You and I “clicked” right from the beginning; we both liked to deal with situations logically, and we laughed easily together. I guess that’s what I thought you meant when you read your vows. But now I don’t know. You stopped focusing on outdoor activities and ever since then you’ve been distancing yourself from me. I supported you in your transition but it wasn’t enough. My company was never enough, and even before things got bad I had noticed that I had to push to get you to do “just us things.” Or chores, cooking. I got a dog and you tolerated her, but you weren’t supportive when she got sick. You were mean. And by mean I mean you were cold. You thought I was wrong to care so much about a dog and you ignored my hurt. I still kind of hate you for that.

But I love you, too. Not for that. But for the other years, when you were there for me and you enjoyed spending time with me. I know you idealize those years too, but for me there was a decision when things got difficult: Grow and build with this person, or don’t. I chose to build. Why couldn’t you? The compromises I faced were no less difficult than the compromises you faced. Except, they were. As evidenced by your inability to participate in the relationship.

You know how you cook nice meals with S now? You tell me about things you make often enough. You and I used to do that. I enjoyed it. We had fun together. Why did you stop? When did you stop helping me with the dishes? Is this just a ‘new relationship’ thing with you?

Do you know what keeps the zing in a relationship? It’s cooking and doing the dishes together. It’s going to bed together — not necessarily every night. I get that you are a night owl and I am not. But it’s going to bed together sometimes. Stuff like that also helps with sex. Coming to bed late and getting down to business when I’ve been asleep for several hours? Not so much. There’s also this thing called foreplay and it’s important, and it’s not complicated. The way to do it is to hold my hand sometimes, or to pause in what you are doing and ask me to sit with you on the couch. And that’s about it. Just signs that you like being close to me. Getting close for a fuck and then going back to your computer doesn’t count. And by the way, calling it a ‘fuck’ in a dismissive tone of voice? Also not so awesome. You don’t have to call it ‘making love,’ either. But please don’t be crude because it makes me think you don’t care about it, or me.

P.S. I do know about masturbation. I’ve been around for three decades and I know my body pretty well. Where on earth did you get the idea that I don’t know this stuff?

I miss you. I miss you every day, you shithead. I still think you are a valuable person, and if anybody says otherwise I want to tell them right now to shut up. I know you weren’t very good to me toward the end, and I know I needed to get out of that relationship because your attitude had become toxic. But I miss you. I love you. I value you. And you say this separation is the right thing — we both agree it’s the right thing — but you say you care for me too. You used to say that you missed me. Now you say you don’t think about it as much. That’s good, I guess. But why did you care so little for me in practice? Why do you care so little in practice?

Why?????

I’m getting along in the world. I’m not as shy as I was a decade ago, and I have some good prospects in my new life, even though I’m exhausted from parenting 2/3 of the time and working full time and wasting my time on the computer late at night because I don’t have any other time to decompress… and oh yeah there’s the apartment that never stays clean and the meals that are somehow so hard to make when there is a toddler present. I’m sick all the time from the bugs that come home from daycare and life is just… so… exhausting. But I love my baby. I like my apartment. I like my town, and I like the prospects for friendship here even though I’ve hit a lot of dead ends. I am pretty content these days if I just am able to get out and enjoy the company of other adults for a while. I joined a community garden this year. More new people to meet, something healthy to do outdoors, a way to maybe decrease the grocery bill, and kids are encouraged to participate. It’s a new corner. I’m going to take my kid backpacking this summer, too. Something small, but that’s my goal. I don’t need you in my life to do these things.

But I liked having you here. And I miss you.

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