• Charlotte Howard

Falling out of love from a distance

It had been a few weeks since I'd last reached out or heard from him, but a couple of nights ago, in a moment of weakness on the way back from my first, desultory date since our breakup, I, once again, found myself in a familiar state of tipsy and remorseful of the way things had ended so abruptly between us. The alcohol coursing through my blood and the uncertainty on whether I'd made the right choice to kiss my date goodbye had weakened all that was left of my will to stay away from what I knew was bad for me, and so I did exactly what I knew I shouldn't.

"Please just talk to me" I messaged him.

"Chris, please"

Since our initial breakup, which happened over text last month after he'd told me he "wasn't able to give me what I deserve", I seem to have fallen into a helpless routine of drinking too much of any cheap, acidic tasting white wine I can find on the shelves of any local corner shop and, towards the end of almost every night (and bottle of wine) - texting him. Every unanswered message fluctuating between "I miss you" to "I hate the way you're treating me, but I'll give you some space". Since ending all communication with one another, I've asked for all of my things back, too. Though of course, I don't actually want them. If anything, I'm hoping he'll keep all that reminds him of me and let it serve as a continual reminder of what he's lost.

I've wanted to write about him for a while, but I haven't quite known how to articulate all of the thoughts that have consumed every inch of me during all of this time spent apart from one another, and though I don't want him to know that I'm still thinking about him, I do want him to know how much his silence is hurting me, and how despite it all, whether I can find the will to admit it to myself or not, there will always still be a part of me that clings onto the piteous idea of loving him.

Seven months prior to our breakup, I met Chris on Hinge. He'd stumbled into my life just when I'd least expected, like one of those butterfly effect-type happenings that completely disrupts almost every aspect of your life, but in the best, most exhilarating way possible. We finally met in person on a cold, bitter January evening, and spent the following days hoarded together in his room, making up for what felt like twenty one years of lost time. After that, it didn't take long for us to begin entangling ourselves within one another's lives, and soon enough, one May afternoon, he told me that he loved me.

Throughout the abrupt start and end of our relationship, there was a beautiful inbetween, filled with moments such as that afternoon in May, when we were laying on his bed and he found the courage to tell me he loved me for the first time. After he'd said it, I blushed and told him that I loved him too, smiling because I'd never told anyone I'd loved them before,

and also because I knew that I'd never meant it as much as I did in that moment. During my time with Chris, there were other moments just as pure as that one too. Moments that were spent picking flowers that I'd pass by just because they reminded me of him, later followed by hour-long moments that comprised of holding hands and kissing as we fell asleep wrapped up in eachothers arms. Moments in all of the mornings that we'd wake up to one another - him gently stroking my cheek with his thumb, and me pretending to still be asleep, just to make our time spent together last a little bit longer.

Little moments like that meant so much to me during our short-lived seven months together, and they still do. That's why I find it so difficult to let Chris go, and to make peace with the fact that I've been left with absolutely no closure.

Instead, Chris has walked out of my life just as abruptly as he walked into it.

It seems that whilst I'd been settling into the idea of the two of us intertwining both our individual selves and lives, Chris had been running from it. Like the time he told me that the thought of being in a relationship terrified him. Of course, if I'd had listened, maybe, even despite all of his best efforts to reassure me of his love, I'd have realised that we would simply never be able to uncomplicate what it was that we both wanted. Though, as more time passed, without even really realising it, I'd already begun letting myself naively believe that our feelings were beginning to uncomplicate themselves. Allowing myself to believe that I was becoming an exception, and that his love for me was overshadowing his fear.

I wanted to believe that everything between us was beginning to become as uncomplicated for him as it already was for me, because, for me, there was only love.

My love for Chris presented itself in many particular ways, such as the first time I realised that I wanted to share every vulnerable part of myself with him, no matter how much it terrified me. when I decided that I'd never want to give my love to anyone as much as him. In fact, I knew not too long after meeting that the adulation I felt for him was completely out of my control, and that the feelings in my heart were undeniably and irrationally louder than the thoughts in my head. I knew that I'd have to leave it to fate to decide what would happen next between us, and had the universe not intervened, I know I'd have spent an entire lifetime loving him.

Though, what I don't know is if it were fate or Chris's fear of intimacy.that led to our breakup. I'd like to believe that maybe it was the universe trying to protect me from someone that would only ever hurt me, but his unanticipated leaving hurt me more than I could have ever imagined anyway, so perhaps this was all just inevitable to begin with, and everything is happening exactly the way it's supposed to.

Up until a few days ago, it had still been over a month since I'd last heard from him, and had I known that my drunken messages were actually going to be answered, maybe I'd have thought more carefully about what I wanted to say.

"I don't think it's wise to talk" he wrote.

His words were empty and impassive, and his tone felt unrecognisable.

Reading the message in front of me, I didn't even try and take a moment to drown out the emotions that were louder than my rational thoughts before I began typing my response.

"I deserve an explanation at least" I sent back.

After sending my message, I questioned what else I wanted to say. What else I've spent the past month imagining I'd say to him again, had I been given the chance. For the past month I've been trying to make sense of why he would throw my love to the side like it means nothing to him. I've been trying to make peace with the fact that perhaps there really is no answer that is worth hurting myself this much for. That perhaps my love never did mean too much to him, and that despite everything, maybe he would have just never been capable of loving me the way I loved him.

I reread the messages on my phone screen in front of me. I knew that there was nothing Chris could say that would give me the closure I was truly looking for. In fact, I knew that I didn't really need any sort of explanation, because it was already so clear.

"Actually, never mind." I wrote and sent it as a follow up text.

I think I've realised I'm looking for closure in all the wrong places, and people. Just like his half-hearted, tepid love for me, Chris will never be able to give me what it is that I'm looking for, and I've already learnt that trying to seek something that doesn't exist will only ever hurt you more. Instead, I'm deciding to appreciate all that I've loved and lost, with Chris and every other ex that has broken my heart being no exception. Now, I'm letting the pain serve as a continual reminder that one day I'll give all of my warm, uncomplicated love to the right person, and they'll give me all of theirs too.

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