Life After Him
He walked into her life unexpectedly. He strutted in and shook thing up, destroying the peace and any understanding she might have had of who, exactly, she was. Then she kicked him out with any real explanation. Then she had to wonder if there really could be life after him.
In the years before, he had never been her favorite person in the world. What she thought had never really mattered to him; then suddenly, they became each other's confidant. Neither knew quite how, but they found themselves seeking each other out to reveal their greatest triumphs, farthest falls, deepest hopes, and darkest fears. They flirted and fought. He would say that she was the best thing he had going for him. She would simply laugh and tell him she sure as hell hoped not. She would confide that she was afraid he was going to lose himself, and, in turn, she would lose him forever. He told her that she would never lose him.
There was no definition to whatever they were to each other. Trying to put into words something that made absolutely no sense seemed pointless. It wasn't romantic or cold. It wasn't quite friendship, but it wasn't any more or any less. It was neither love nor lust. Neither was it hard nor particularly easy. It was a game in which no body won and there was no clear loser. There were no boundaries marked or rules laid out, no guidelines what-so-ever. There was nothing to keep feelings in check. It was here and now, never worried about later.
It was totally dysfunctional. He used her to quit hating himself. When she smiled at his jokes or looked for him, not anyone else, in a crowd, he felt like, maybe, he wasn't an awful person. She gave him the confidence, even if only temporarily, he had always pretended to have, but never actually possessed.
She used him to make herself feel she had a purpose in life. He needed her. In so many ways he needed her and she knew it. She managed to keep his life in check. She would give him a little push in the right direction when necessary. Keeping his grades and social life from turning into a complete mess without doing everything for him or even letting him know that he was being helped was a skill she took pride in. She loved being able to create the balance in someone else's life that she couldn't obtain in her own.
His personal demons were too much for her though. His private life as a mess, and that was something she couldn't fix. That was something he had to do on his own. She told him time and time again that she couldn't cure him. Her reassuring wasn't going change the years of self-loathing. She kept telling him that the only way he was going to like himself was if he made himself into someone he could respect. He was the only thing that would ever make his life better.
She was always trying to get him to take control of those little details in his life that seemed to make everything else harder. He always told her he would, but never did. Every time he let her down, she thought she should make him carry his own burdens for once. She would get sick of taking care of him, making sure he didn't get hurt. She got tired of picking him up and dusting him off every time he fell.
The final straw came when he broke the eighty-twelfth promise to her and to himself. This time she thought he had actually meant it. He said he wanted to make himself better, but all he did was say it. He never acted; never worked up the courage to face his demons. When things got hard, he bailed out.
She gave up. She couldn't handle it anymore. She quit answering the phone when she knew it was him. Changing her daily routine insured that she wouldn't cross paths with him during the day and that it would be nearly impossible for him to track her down. She deleted emails from him without even opening them.
For weeks she dreaded checking her messages, knowing she would hear his voice. "Why won't you return my phone calls?" he would ask. "Why don't you ever check your emails? Why weren't you at the game last night?" She hated those messages. They made her want to call him and forgive everything. She felt so bad, but she had to do this for herself. She couldn't let him walk all over her again. Letting him back into her life wouldn't bring about anything good for either of them.
It was hard, leaving his world without saying goodbye. She missed him. He made her laugh. They had had some fun times. She had really cared about him. She would have never let life go on as it had for so long if she hadn't felt something for him.
Finally the phone calls and emails stopped. Friends told her he had stopped asking about her. His last message on her machine said, "I am sorry for whatever I did. I don't think there is any way you will ever forgive me. You are more stubborn than I am. Just so you know, I meant everything I said about you. Um. bye, I guess."
That made her jealous of him. He got to speak his peace, but she was left with so much that she could have said. She considered emailing him with an explanation of her decision, but that would just re-open the lines of communication.
He got out looking like the victim. Poor defenseless little Adam, everyone knows he has problems. Big mean Erica tossed him to the curb without as much as a goodbye. She even saw herself as the heartless bitch of the situation.
For a long time she felt guilty. There was an aching inside of her telling her that she could have gone about this better. For a long time she felt lonely. She wasn't sure things could go back to the way they were before he tramped into her life, but things slowly went back to normal. She found new friends, got use to her new schedule. Eventually she rarely thought of him. When thoughts did turn to him, they were only of the happy times. She finally closed that chapter in her life, and she felt good about that. Sure enough, there was life after him.