“I can’t care about you like you care about me.”
That was it. That was the end. The reason why my ex left after five years of being involved. Although, I didn’t get that explanation until about eight months later. He just left. My biological father, same thing. He left when I was a baby. Saw him when I was about two. I don’t remember, my mom told me. Talked to him a few times on the phone. That was it. I got an explanation from him twenty-eight years later when he sent me a letter. It was years of repressed anger, guilt, shame, hurt, sadness, anxiety, confusion, and wondering what I did wrong. When the truth all along was with both: they couldn’t love me.
I’ve been thinking about this (it’s what I do best, overthink), would I rather want someone to stay in my life who couldn’t love me or would I rather them let me go? Because I’ve experienced both. My dad, the man whom I call dad, he’s technically my step-father, also couldn’t love me. He came into my life when I was two. But as I’ve talked about before he’s never really been there emotionally. Same with my ex and my biological father. So would I rather want someone to stay in my life who couldn’t love me or would I rather them let me go? I would rather them let me go. Both hurt, but living with someone who can’t or won’t love you is extremely painful. But it’s also painful when someone you love abandons you. I’d rather have neither, honestly. I’d rather be loved. But if you are going to leave me at least let me know why and not just disappear.
I understand though. I’ve did that to a friend. I abandoned her. I felt she was being selfish, so after six years of knowing her, I left. That was a year ago and I still haven’t talked to her. So I understand why people get up and abandon others. They can’t handle it. They need to focus on themselves. They need space. They’re selfish. Whatever you want to call it. They need it and they don’t know how to communicate it. I know I didn’t. I’m not angry at her anymore. I worry that she’s angry at me. But at the time, I couldn’t handle it and instead of telling her how I felt and that I needed space, I left. I stopped talking to my dad recently. I couldn’t handle his anger and him pushing me away. I felt unloved. The problem is I have a hard time expressing when I need love and when I need space. When I expressed my need for love, I’d be called “clingy” and be pushed away and when I expressed my need for space, there’d be anger and I’d be pushed away. I don’t do well with confrontation, so to solve that problem altogether, I abandoned ship. If we need love, we should be able to say we need love. If we need space, we should be able to say we need space. Without worrying about the other person abandoning us. But there is a possibility, they might leave. And if so, we have to let them go. I told my ex I needed love and that I wanted commitment. He didn’t want to do that and so he left. That’s a risk I had to take. I had to do what made me happy, and he did what made him happy.
I’m not mad at any of them anymore. My biological father, my step-father, or my ex. I WAS angry with them (feel free to read bitter past posts) but I realize now, they couldn’t love me. I can be happy they let me go and be free. It allowed me to heal and learn to love myself. I also learned to not take it personally anymore. Them not loving me has nothing to do with me. I’m still lovable. I’m still worthy. They have pain inside that they need to deal with. It has nothing to do with me. Also, we all have needs. It’s okay to want love or to want space. We have to acknowledge that on both sides. If someone communicates to us that they need love, acknowledge it. If someone communicates to us that they need space, acknowledge it. And if we can’t give it, we need to let go. There might be anger, but we need to take care of ourselves. Don’t hold onto someone who can’t love us and don’t hold onto someone we can’t love. Let go and heal. In both cases. And have faith that everything will work out the way it’s supposed to.
-Sonja Jackson, OpenHeartTin