It’s weird seeing a person you loved interact with people they used to complain about online. As if those friendships meant nothing to them when they were with you because you supplied them with something they couldn’t otherwise receive. But when they stopped getting it from you, or when you asked for more, or when you couldn’t give any more without receiving something in return, they moved on, back to the people who they had once claimed to have extinguished. (Not that you wanted them to extinguish those relationships—in fact the thought alarmed you.) If we break up, you can have ———. A month later their profile picture updates: it’s a photo taken by that same friend they claimed to want you to take off their hands.
Used to love. What good is it thinking with pettiness of the ways in which a former partner is a hypocrite to themselves and to their values? It does not feel good to think of someone who was once dear to you in this way. You wish you were more charitable: that is your ideal, as you’ve expressed multiple times; for the work of the relationship to not be wasted, to relinquish all thought of control. But it is difficult to persue friendship with someone who wants to talk to you but doesn’t otherwise feel responsibility towards you of any kind. They are too consumed by their own anxiety to consider the ways in which they have harmed you. Your feelings were never worth noticing: either a minor annoyance (easily ignored) or an attack, nothing in between, no matter how carefully you expressed yourself, no matter how much patience you practiced, how much understanding you desired (in them as well as in yourself).
Patience and understanding. You can’t explain to them the way in which you worked to expand yourself for the love that you felt. You were a servant of love, in the truest sense, of the “common profit” of mutual feeling and reciprocity. You believed that what you were building was sound. But you were the only one working to accept the other’s flaws: when they let you down you bought their excuses. They were not careful telling you that they loved you, of describing the future you would share. You let their empty words paper over your doubts. Your trust was broken, time and time again, and maybe that was part of what made the love work in you—it was deeply flawed and that made it seem real.
The building you were working on was composed out of air. It hovered above you, in the cold mornings you were slow to wake up, in the way you curled underneath the covers or made easy jokes about the other, like you were crossing from earth to the air. All of that feels so far away now. It is difficult to remember. Its fragility was what made it seem beautiful, the way it shimmered like grease on asphalt when you looked at it, as if from a distance. The way you wanted it even though you didn’t know exactly what it was. You don’t want to write about the feeling that formed in you when you realized it was gone, the way love turned to anger, the feeling that you were betrayed. What’s the point?
They didn’t want to be loved. At least not by you. And you are forced to wonder at the love that you felt, the love that made you feel sad as well as expansive, the anger and maybe even hate that followed—Where was it coming from? Where was it going? Did you love anyone, anyone at all?