Slow Dancing in a Burning Room

Sometimes, mostly when I’ve been alone for a few nights, I think it’s okay to say that I’m still struggling with my feelings for The Ex from time to time. Maybe feelings isn’t the right word, as it assumes that I’m hiding some deep love that I just can’t let go of. But I don’t really know a better one. And, in some ways, that’s true anyway. So feelings. But not in the ways you’d expect.

I’m always going to feel a deep love for him. My heart will always hurt when he reaches those milestones that we were supposed to conquer together. When he gets married, when he has babies with someone other than me, when I hear all about what a great dad he is (because I inevitably will), when he grieves the loss of his parents, whether or not he goes through a divorce (and I honestly hope that he doesn’t have to face that), and eventually, when he dies. Those events, and so many more, will hurt me more that I’ll ever care to admit. We are star-crossed lovers of a sort. We may not spend our lives together, but they are intertwined, whether or not we intentionally make them so.

And when I’m alone, I don’t feel guilty about that. But when I’m lying in bed next to SC, when we have to talk about him because he comes up in conversation AGAIN and I feel the need to address it within our relationship, and when SC doesn’t pass judgement on me, that’s when I feel it. The guilt.

I’m always going to have to make a choice. Every day I’m going to have to choose between The Ex and another guy. At this point, it’s SC. And I’d like it to stay that way. But nothing’s certain in life. And I know that I have that choice to make. Every day I make that choice with my heart. It’s not about who I love more. It’s about who I can’t survive without.

And by survive, I mean maintain myself. When I’m with The Ex, I lose myself. I become this weak little girl who succumbs to her every desire, even if it’s horrible for her. Even if it destroys her emotionally, mentally, physically, financially, she’ll do what she needs to do to keep him in her life. That’s called an addiction. And like most recovering addicts that carry around a chip that says that they are any number of months or even years sober, I have  a talisman too. I wear the ring that he gave me. The ring that was supposed to promise me he’d love me forever, that he’d marry me some day.

This ring is the only thing that I allow myself to keep from him. It’s the thing that carries that part of me through my life. The part of me that I can’t let myself become. But it also carries his love for me, and mine for him. It reminds me that he’s out there, and he’s probably dealing with some of the same feelings. He’s not the enemy. And, in his own way, he does love me. He always will. He’s just not right for me. Because for that to be the case, I need to be me. And that’s exactly what he takes when we allow ourselves to act on that love.

This isn’t some new development within me. I’ve know this for quite some time. And it’s what has helped me truly accept that the relationship between The Ex and me is over. It’s what has helped me move on to truly love someone else, which I do. But those who loved you, they never really leave you. And, most days, that’s okay with me.

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