For two days depression weighed on me.
I returned to work on Monday a sullen version of myself as I recalled the excitement I had felt at the idea of never seeing my office again. I felt hopeless and pathetic and life seemed more bleak than ever, as if there was no end to my suffering.
But what could I do? I couldn’t leave the life we built together, I couldn’t throw away five years. I resented him for putting me in my current position, for popping my precious bubble of denial and exposing me to the light. I knew it could never be the same, I would always know my true sentiments. I took my time getting home, never bothering to say I’d be late, hoping it would make him suffer even a little. On my way to the train I resolved to start smoking again and stopped at a convenience store in the hopes of slowly poisoning myself.
On the third day of suffering, the light was shining so brightly that I couldn’t focus on anything else and knew there was no shutting it off. There was only one foreseeable solution to my troubles. So I began to plan my escape.
After a particularly unproductive day at work I had come up with a plan. If I could convince my mom to fly out the following weekend and make the treacherous drive with me, I would be okay. I could load up my car with the essentials and leave everything else behind. This would allow me to give my work a weeks notice and allow me time to tie up any loose ends. I could ask my cousin or one of my friends to let me crash for the remainder of the week to avoid the awkward living situation. I felt anxiety pushing down on me, forcing the breath out of me and I longed for release. I knew what had to be done. I camped out at the train station for close to an hour, crying into my cellphone to my mother. She listened patiently and constantly reassured me, promising to to fly out on the weekend. So I set my move date and began my slow descent into my own personal Hell.
When I told him I was in fact leaving he was shocked and couldn’t comprehend. At first he thought I wanted to return home and transition into a long distance relationship. When the full force of my words came down on him, so did the pain, and the guilt trip began:
You’re screwing me over, we just signed a lease.
We will discuss with our landlord, having the lease re-written in your name only.
I’m not going to be able to afford rent on my own.
There is a spare bedroom, you need to consider getting a roommate or subletting to a student.
Well, I don’t want a roommate!
Sorry, that’s not my problem. You’re a big boy, you can figure something out yourself.
You have to continue splitting the rent with me until the lease ends.
Umm, no I don’t and I won’t. You may keep the damage deposit from our last place and that’s plenty to keep you going for now.
What about our trip for Christmas? I don’t get to go with you and your family?
Nope. They are my family. I will give you the money once I return your ticket, you have time booked off work, maybe you should go see your family.
Fine, but you have to call my parents right now and tell them.
And on it continued. Anything he could think of to guilt me into changing my mind. It made me realize how long I had spent letting guilt control my life.
I felt guilty about mistakes I had made in the early stages of our relationship.
I felt guilty about the lovely gifts he had treated me to over the years.
I felt guilty when I thought back on the emotional support he had provided me and to the hard times he had helped me through.
I felt guilty about hurting him and leaving him alone.
I even felt guilty that I was leaving him right before Christmas and rationalized potentially putting it off until after the holidays.
Maybe I’ll wait until the New Year, and then we have his brother’s wedding, and if I’m going to wait it out that long, maybe I should go along on our planned vacation. Before I knew it, I had rationalized spending 10 more months of misery in an unhappy relationship and all because of my own guilty conscience. I reassured myself that there is never a good time to break up and that putting it off and pretending everything was okay all the while knowing in my heart it was over, well that was just downright cruel. Not only that, but the thought of continuing on even another day in my current situation was sickening.
What is it about females that makes us so naturally guilt ridden that we’re unwilling to end a bad relationship? I’ve been dumped in the past and these seemingly nice guys didn’t even give it a second thought, they were unhappy, they ended it and they seemlessly moved on with their lives. Yet here I was, walking on egg-shells to try and make the process as painless as possible for him.
Why do we let guilt control our decisions? Or is it more than guilt?
To Be Continued…