this is very hard

I’ve been putting this entry off. Right now, as I’m starting, I’m filled with an incredible amount of anxiety. But I think I’ve put it off for too long.

Lately I’ve suddenly felt a bit more protective of my personal life. And the reason is simple: over the past year, I didn’t feel too comfortable discussing my relationship with Eric. Lots of things have happened to us over these months and we have gone through so much. But most of it is between the two of us. And it needs to stay there.

Relationships are very difficult. How two people grow with each other over the years amazes me. People change so much and sometimes when you change into two different people, you find that you aren’t the team you once were. And no matter how much the two of you are in love, you just can’t get things to feel like they’re working.

Quitting a job is stressful. Relationships in question are stressful. Moves are stressful. Deaths are stressful. We had all of that in a year. And at the end of it, we were both bruised and worn, and a bit dazed. We left a home that we had together in a city we both knew and loved and went to a completely new city with new jobs, and a roommate, in a house we didn’t choose, and we didn’t know what was going to happen. Part of the past year was spent just building up until the moment we got here, and once we did, we didn’t know what was supposed to happen next.

What happened, from the best I can tell, is we realized we weren’t making each other happy anymore. And most of that comes from fear and insecurity. There was never a lack of love. But we decided that the best thing for us is to take some time apart and find ourselves in this new city and repair what’s broken inside ourselves. We need to be strong, happy, independent people again.

So, Eric moved out. A little less than a month ago. And it’s the saddest thing I’ve ever gone through. I’m sad now. I get sad just about every day. You spend so many years next to a person, sharing bathrooms and couches and porches and stories, and you get very used to being two people and not just one. But I’ve never really been single my entire life, and part of me wants to have that knowledge inside me. I want to know that I can take care of myself no matter what happens. I don’t want Eric to feel like I can’t live or function unless he’s around. And even if that’s not the case, for him to even think that’s a possibility is a very bad thing.

We broke up. We’ve separated. We’re on a break. We call it lots of things to cover the pain that he’s not here every day, stroking my forehead as he passes me by in the living room. He’s not there when I’m brushing my teeth. I don’t have to wash his stubble out of the sink anymore. His wet towels never soak my bed. I don’t hear the sound of him falling asleep next to me. I am now one. Just one person. And this is hard for me. But I really want to do this. I really want to know what it is I want from myself and from the people in my life. I don’t think I’ve ever asked that before.

We still see each other all the time, and he lives just down the street. We have always been incredible friends, and that is still there. We joke and laugh and email and have fun. We’re just not living together, sleeping together, sharing one life. I knew that it would be amicable, and even though egos are bruised and feelings have been hurt, these past few weeks have been very good for us. We’re learning things. We don’t have this pressure on us about “What is going to happen to us?” Now, we just are, and we are very good at just being together. And that’s so comforting. That’s a tremendous weight off my shoulders. I don’t have to worry that he’ll never be in my life again.

He asked why I hadn’t written here yet. And to be honest, part of the reason that I’m telling this story here is so that he doesn’t feel like we’re being secretive about each other. I don’t want him to feel like we’re doing something we’re ashamed of, or something that should be judged. This is life. This is what happens to people. And most break up and do hateful things to each other and say horrible things about each other and never speak again. I’m so lucky this isn’t happening here. I’m so lucky that we can still be like, “Hey. You look down. Talk to me. But hurry up before Queer as Folk comes on.” Because I’m not mad at him. He’s a wonderful, beautiful person. That’s what so many pages of this journal have been devoted to. And at the end of the day, that’s why I didn’t want to write this entry. I didn’t want Eric’s story to end. But it doesn’t have to. This is just the next chapter of our lives. And however the two of us turn out is going to be for the best. We are very hopeful.

But, yeah, I felt like I was lying to you guys, but I just didn’t want to have to handle the email and the gossip and the whatever comes out of something like this. I just wanted to get used to the idea of being on my own first before I declared it to the world. I wanted to feel safer. But there have been so many times I wanted to come here and talk to y’all about this. Because you have been a support group for many of my traumas. But this one is too personal for me to seek any advice. And if advice was all I needed, then this whole thing would have been solved months ago. I’ve been swamped in advice for a year. Advice doesn’t change anything. Only actions solve things. And this is a very painful action. But I think it’s a good one. I know we’re going to be okay. And as long as we remain mature about things, we’re going to be even better than okay. But right now is very hard.

I waited until I could write this entry without crying. I didn’t actually succeed in that, but I did better than I thought I would. Mostly, I’m just scared. I’m scared and sad and I miss little things and Cal cries for him and my life is changing and I don’t know where it’s going, but I think everything is going in good directions. Oh, man. Is this where I’m supposed to say I was Waiting to Exhale?

I love that boy, as you guys can clearly see. I’m not going to bad mouth him or point fingers or be a bitch. Because this is no one’s fault. We can trace a line of events, but we can’t follow a series of emotions. Things changed. We changed. And it is possible to love someone so much and still be unable to make them smile. And I love that dimpled smile he has. Over the past few weeks, I’m seeing it more than I have since we moved here. That makes me know we’re doing the right thing, as much as it sucks.

I don’t know anyone who has gone through this, or handled this situation like this. We’ve baffled all of our friends. We’re just two good people who love and respect each other. And sometimes the best gift you can give someone is space. And time. That’s what we’re doing.

And with the time that I took before writing this entry, I’m actually able to make this sound positive and hopeful. A few weeks ago, I wouldn’t have been able to do that. I would have just broken down and declared everything to be sad and miserable. But it’s not. Everything has its good points. And I can see what’s making Eric happy right now and I know what’s making me happy right now and I think we both need these things.

I may talk a good game, here. But I have no idea what I’m doing, what I’m going to do, or what I’m supposed to do. I’m just here, trying to figure it all out. I’m lucky to have such good, supportive people in my life. I love that they understand me and they say all the right things. I’m so happy that I have girlfriends to talk to and parents that listen and understand and the love and hope from Eric that this is all going to be okay.

I couldn’t do this without those things.

Now, I’m just sitting here, looking at the entry, not wanting to post it. I’m sort of afraid to. I have this horrible, tugging feeling that people are judging me. This insecurity comes from me being solo for the first time, I’m sure. I don’t have the security of knowing that at home, everything is good and fine and the way it always is. I don’t have that base anymore. So, part of me feels very naked and exposed in front of you. Like I’m disappointing everyone. But I know that Eric and I didn’t fail. We just changed. And we’re still changing. We just have to find out what we’re going to become.

I’m posting now, before I lose my nerve. Once I post this, the words are true. There’s another fear. It’s all very real once it goes up here. And my thoughts and my life are staring back at me online. That’s hard. It’s hard to have everyone know you’re terrified.

(Was that good, E? Did I get everything? I miss you.)

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