In the hallway at my friend’s wedding reception, I saw my relationship with Kevin for what it really was, an impossible hot mess. But why was I holding on so tight? Because I knew I had to let go of something I thought I wanted. Knowing when to let go is one of the most important lessons you could learn in a relationship. It keeps you from giving your heart away too easily and shows you how to move on.
I walked out of the party and saw Kevin wiping his forehead and looking up into the underside of the stairs. He looked like he wanted to scream, but so many happy people were in and out of the party, so he paced. He pivoted his step and locked eyes with me. I thought he would smile and reach out his hand for me. He frowned and walked towards the wall. I didn’t have any fun during the wedding.
I remember feeling like I just wanted to be done with him, but I refused to let go. I looked at him. His lips parted, “I’m not good enough for you.”
I screwed up my entire face, ready to protest it, but in the back of my mind, I thought, “Damn right, you’re not.”
Kevin watched my contorted mouth and said, “Let me say this.” He put his hand on his mouth, lingered and dropped his hand, “Everything I do isn’t good enough. I danced when I said I wouldn’t, but somehow it wasn’t enough for you. I tell you that alcohol bothers me and you can’t wait to get some. A no, my no is not good enough for you…” And he went on and on about the things that I did that make him crazy. And those things made me awful. I had a list for him too, but that was not a battle I wanted to engage in. I listened, for 15 minutes.
He ended with an ultimatum. If weed is going to be a part of my life, he wouldn’t be. I made a face, wondering how he even got there in the first place.
Kevin saw my face and said, “I guess you made your choice.” He walked down the stairs, “I’m gone.” I didn’t have the energy to chase him.
“Fine Kevin,” I turned my back and walked back into the wedding, determined to have a good time. But by the time I made it to Lauren, I started tearing up. I wanted to tell her to come with me to the bar, but I tearfully blurted out, “He’s gone!”
Lauren grabbed me on the shoulder, asking if Kevin left and I cried, “Yes!” Lauren lead me out of the same door Kevin left from. She sat me down on the stairs where he and I had that last venomous argument. I sobbed, “He’s gone! I just don’t know how to be right for him. I feel like I’m always on eggshells with him. And that’s just not me.” I thought I would be relieved when Kevin finally walked away, but I felt like someone punched me in the gut.
“I’m not gone,” I heard Kevin’s deep voice ascend the steps before he did.
The butterflies in my stomach jumped. I felt like I was in a chick flick and this it the big romantic gesture that would make me come back to him. Kevin locked eyes with me. “I don’t think I could ever leave. I love you Danielle. I know I don’t like a lot of the things you do, but I love you. “
We talked with Lauren as our mediator for another hour. We yelled, I cried and Lauren helped us find our middle ground. Lauren’s boyfriend was away on a gig, so in a wedding filled with couples, she laughs when we talk about this night and said, “Honestly, it was like watching a movie. I loved it.”
Kevin and I left that wedding together, both determined to make us work. We promised more effective communication. That just meant more arguments. More of Kevin’s weird behavior that I tried to step around.
Like, he’d call me on at least four different nights/mornings, depending on what time you get up. Two am, 3 am, 4 am — my phone lit up with Kevin’s name. My anxiety wouldn’t let me pick up. Each time I didn’t pick up the call, Kevin would call back at least seven times. He’d leave at least two voice mails, both saying he came to see me and I was not available to him.
In the wee hours of the morning, I’d sit up in bed, watching the calls and messages flood my phone in full anxiety mode. Kevin was scaring me. I couldn’t sleep. As I dozed off from exhaustion, I’d imagine him tip-toeing through my apartment. Another call. My heart would race, thinking Kevin was downstairs, staring up at my windows, waiting for a sign that I’m in the apartment.
Why was this man calling me at all hours of the morning?
I never got a chance to address those calls. I couldn’t keep fighting with Kevin. The weather, how many ounces in a pound, everything. So one day, I effectively communicated with Kevin, “I can’t sell you a dream anymore. I’m not me in this relationship. I am stepping over eggshells, not even on them, so that I don’t trigger an argument. I miss me.”
At the end of my communication, Kevin says three words, “Enjoy your addiction.” It was like he begged to be fought with, like something inside of him needed it to live.
I felt like a Beyonce song. “Thank God he blew it. Thank God I dodged a bullet.” Kevin’s attitude was unpredictable, combative and just not a good time. I held on to Kevin because he was a departure from the men who didn’t talk. He was charming when those other men were oafish. I thought Kevin was me finally getting the gentleman I deserved.
I know now that none of that is true. Kevin gave me a chance to evaluate who I am in relationships and I didn’t like it. I lose myself, thinking it’s going to help me keep a man. What I have now figured out is that I have to be me. And me is good enough to keep a man–the right man.