I rewatched A Thin Line Between Love and Hate tonight. I haven’t seen it in years. The last time I saw it was before I truly had my heart broken. Before, I only imagined what heartbreak felt like. Only could picture that kind of sadness from Rose’s anguished cries as she reached for Jack’s frozen hand during those last moments before she’d never see him again. I only knew a tiny fraction of having someone kill the part inside of you that was obsessed with them. Tonight, I was brought back to that darkness, to the anxiety, to the nausea of having someone so carelessly replace you and stomp on your heart as if all of your affection meant nothing. Because really, the only kinds of people who do these kinds of things have got to be terrible people, right?
Right. I guess. But what happens when your relationship ends before it ever really begun? What happens to those feelings that were starting to flutter, but never turned into a real flame? Maybe, if you’re lucky, the person was truly not all that important to you and losing them only warrants a single weekend of drinking and a last round of breakup sex. But the last time I started falling, really falling for someone, I never got all the way to love. It ended before I hit the bottom of the pit.
I am not here to tell you that love is all butterflies and buttered biscuits, because I’m way too old and jaded to believe bullshit like that anymore. Love is shitty and cruel. It is the kind of thing that skins you alive and bathes you in salt water. Love is exquisite torture and horrifying obsession. It is all of those behaviors you hated seeing other people do, but you just can’t help yourself. You’re not yourself when you’re in this kind of love. Love with someone who mistreats you. In my case, love with someone who neglected me.
I believe that neglect is another sort of abuse. There is something about falling for someone who promises you the heavens and gives you little more than hell that breaks you slowly, that corrodes and rusts you. The thing is…you don’t even know you’re dying until you’re already dead and trying to revive yourself, trying to save the person you didn’t even know you were losing, because, if there’s ever a choice between loving someone and loving myself, I am choosing myself. No one should ever have to put up with bad behavior and lower their standards or accept poor treatment for love.
I thought he was different. He’s not the first I thought was different. He’s not the first who fixed his full lips to lie about not being a fuck boy, to tell me I was beautiful and special, just to go on to treat me like I was unimportant. He turned out to be no different. There is not really any surprise there. I’ve come to expect that anyone who has defend himself before the relationship even starts is probably not all that worthy of trust, but, he won me over.
When I told my friends about him, gabbing as buddies do about their dating lives, they could see nothing good in him. I paused, pondering their opinions, listening to more of his empty words filled with so many calories to fatten my heart and fill it with affection for him. And so it was that despite all of his bullshit, I kept wanting him. Even though the thought that he didn’t deserve me kept presenting itself, even by him, he kept “trying”, whatever that means from a negligent man, so I kept trying. With only a few tastes of him, I’d become addicted.
And I hated it. Hated wanting and lusting for someone who was never around, having my sex drive thirst for a touch I could never have, sleeping with other men who just weren’t fucking away my desire to be with him. I tried pushing him away. I did. But it was like trying to empty a river using a bucket. Pointless. I was drowning as time kept rolling by and we were hardly growing any closer.
I think for some people, you know after a certain amount of time that if you aren’t in love with someone by then, you’ll never be in love with them. Well, that time had come and we still hadn’t spent enough time together for me to even really know whether or not I could love him. But whatever I felt for him…I’d had enough of wanting and never being sated. So I met a nice guy, started dating him, and things just kind of… stopped with my obsession.
I thought I was cured. I really did. I had a really intelligent man with a lot of muscles who thought I was smart, funny, and attractive who respected me and came to see me 2 or 3 times per week. We had sex pretty often and the cuddling was great but despite all of that, I never really opened up to him. We talked about sad shit sometimes, but nothing that ever brought tears to my eyes or just really breached any emotional defenses. It was nice having this person be around…it was nice, but it wasn’t love.
So it ended. He didn’t love me. He didn’t want to waste my time. I understood. I didn’t love him either. Sanest breakup I ever had and I legit don’t hate him, but as soon as that ended, I was back to obsessing about what could’ve been love but may not have been. And I guess that’s why I’m so fucked up about it. I do believe there is a thin line between love and hate but how can I properly hate someone that I’ve never properly loved?
Clearly, I am conflicted, and though it has been several months since I last spoke to him, I cannot find peace with how things ended. I’ve been hoping over and over that in another few weeks, I’ll be over it and over him, and then those weeks pass by, and I flutter between acceptance and emotional cutting. If I keep cutting at my heart, will I eventually bleed all remaining feelings for him, or more likely, my dream of what he could be from myself?
I don’t have the answers even though this is not the first time this has happened to me. You’d think I’d be a lot better at saying goodbye to relationships barely in their honeymoon stage, but I’m total shit at it. Maybe if we were still on speaking terms, I’d tell him that I thought I was falling in love with him so many months ago. I made a similar confession to another lost love a couple of years ago and found a sense of peace with the reality that life is hard and complex and people who could have been in love with each other are not always meant to be together.
There are many more threads to explore of this situation, and I’ll continue plucking and pulling at them until they make some sort of tapestry that I can understand. I’ve decided that I’m total shit at processing my feelings, and maybe that’s why it takes me so long to get over some people and 5 seconds to get over others. But for now, I dance on the line, leaning towards love, but praying for indifference.
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