when love locks you out

Would you like to hear a story about how I brutalized myself emotionally yesterday? Come, do not be fooled by happy Instastories, bend your ear to my cautionary tale and be warned by another's tale of woe. 

A few months ago, I received an email from the ex who (this is going back a couple of years now) broke up with me out of the absolute cold blue when he suddenly realized he wanted to go home to Germany and not, in fact, continue to build a life with me. I don't know how much I talked about it then. I think a lot? I don't remember. I don't really want to go back and look. But the long and short of it was, after breaking up with me, he gave me about five minutes to process, ask questions, try to understand, or come to terms with it in any way - before blocking my phone number and all of my socials, that last part making me feel deeply wounded and ashamed, as if I was some kind of stalker for trying to make sense of how he'd blindsided me. 

This was after two and a half years of dating, toward the end of which he sat me on his couch and quite solemnly told me that I needed to go to Germany to meet his family, since he'd come to realize he was going to forsake them by staying in America, with me. Forsake is my word, but tbh, that was the vibe and tone. It was intense and much sadder than such a decision should have called for, which was a major red flag I missed.

So this email was a longish apology, I guess sort of for breaking up with me, but mostly for the way he coldly shut me out afterward? To be honest I'm not totally sure. I read it once and very quickly, answered "All good, take care", and moved on. I was still very much in the throes of trying to get over the next ex-boyfriend, lol.

Anyway, on Saturday, he sent me another email, saying he was in LA, and asking would I be interested in meeting up. I got this message and just stared at it uncomprehendingly for about two minutes. Why on earth would he want to see me? He'd already apologized. What was there left to say? I screenshot it and fired it off to my friends. 

And truly, does anything rally one's friends like a message from a villainous ex? Hoo boy. I was ordered in no uncertain terms and quite unladylike language to absolutely not, under any circumstances, give that #&@*er the time of day. 

I ignored my friends' advice. Why did I do that? Because I'd come to the harebrained conclusion that this must be a play to get me back. It had to be. He'd already apologized. What other reason could there be for showing back up in my life AGAIN? And I wanted to hear the pitch! I wanted to hear this kid shoot his shot. I was curious. 

So I answered him saying Okay, but it has to be tonight. 

And he wrote back and said Ah, damn, plans tonight. 

And that's when I realized, Oh. He doesn't want me. He just wants to have a feel good moment of face to face forgiveness, to feel better about himself. That's all this is. 

And I was so mad. Because fuck that. So I wrote back, Ah, okay. Unfortunate timing. Enjoy your stay, and that was supposed to be the last of it. That's exactly where I should have left it, because it felt really good and right to leave it there.

But then on Monday, literally seconds after I landed another job interview, I received his disappointed reply, and because I was so elated about how things were coming in my job search, I caved. I answered him and said, Okay, change of heart. I'll meet up with you tonight. 

So. That's what I did. Last night I went and met up with an ex who had been horrifically terrible to me, as a fellow human being person, because I felt so positive and optimistic about my future and just sort of wanted to share that feeling with someone I knew. That positivity and optimism made me feel generous in spirit, kindhearted enough to give this man who didn't deserve it what he wanted so badly: a chance to mend things enough between us that he wouldn't feel like a monster anymore.

You can guess what happened.

I had one drink. He had two. We talked without stopping for two and a half hours, catching up and having a wholly pleasant conversation. He saw the ways in which I've grown, emotionally and psychologically and professionally, since we were together. And he honored them in a very sincere way, and it felt good. 

And because the whole evening was so superficially lovely, I barely noticed the bad feeling creeping up on me. It came on so slowly and so imperceptibly that I didn't notice it until it was too late. It was one feeling that morphed into another that turned into yet another by the time we said goodbye. 

It started out as a feeling of inadequacy, a whisper of This is all fine and good, Ellie. Just don't forget. You weren't good enough then, and you aren't good enough now. 

And then it turned to embarrassment and shame. Like, Look at you. Why are you here? What were you expecting? Did you think he was going to see you and be so utterly charmed that he'd reroute his entire life AGAIN?

And finally, in the absolutely horrifyingly awkward moment that was our goodbye, rejection. Rejection, all over again. God. Look at his face. Look how all the laughter and joy has drained out of it, now that it's time to go. No love left for you there. And is that...relief? 

I went home and sobbed. Absolutely just tore a perfectly healed hole in my heart right the fuck back open last night. Did it to myself, no one else to blame.  

And to be clear: I don't want this man. I don't. And not just because of the character he showed in how he treated me. I don't want him for other reasons. I truly do not. But I am a human person who is sensitive to reliving rejection, which is essentially what I put myself through last night. 

So don't do it, friends. Learn from my mistake and don't ever, ever, ever, ever say yes, if you are hit with such a proposal someday. Forgive them in the silence and peace of your heart, on your terms and on your time, and then move on. When love locks you out, that's it. Don't answer, if it comes slinking back round, begging for a pat on the head. 

And always listen to your fiercely protective, potty-mouthed friends. Potty-mouthed friends know best.