Another day has passed. I went to work and “hardworkingly” typed inconsequential data into my computer just so my subordinates will not wonder what I was doing, attended multiple meetings that I have no recollection of, made myself oats for dinner. And now I’m on the third glass of wine, staring out my window, wondering if what I did was right. I cleaned out my apartment a week ago. Every trinket, memorabilia and photo we collected during our relationship are all gone.
It was never going to work out; we just fooled ourselves and delayed the inevitable. Perhaps the mistake was me dating your best friend first, that I fell for his boyish charms and his idea of a perfect life. I was 23 then. I didn’t know what I wanted or whatever I wanted was what I wanted. I know I wanted to climb the corporate ladder and be at the top of my career, but 3 kids and a picket fence sounded nice too. Perhaps the mistake was me dating you even when I didn’t trust you, but your overflowing charisma told my heart to just jump into it. And so did my ex, your best friend. Perhaps the mistake was us getting engaged two months after we cheated on both our partners with each other and then telling them we just weren’t ready for anything long term. Perhaps the mistake was us getting married even when both of us got cold feet and thought about running out on our wedding day, but still went through with the wedding because of our love. They say that love is blind, but I think I was just blind. I didn’t want to deal with anything that made me upset, so I always just ignored all of it. I frequently say that I will cross the bridge when I came to it, but no one told me that the bridge would be littered with all sorts of obstacles, broken steps and a mirror at the end of it. There is nothing at the end of the bridge, and now the bridge has collapsed under me. I don’t think we were very good people separately, and together we just became monsters. You know the saying of two wrongs making a right? That’s false. That’s just something people tell one another to justify their self-destructive ways by turning it into something romantic. Two wrongs only make two wrongs; there’s nothing more to it.
We thought it was going to work out because of how similar we both are. We both enjoy the same things. We have the same end goal in life: succeeding in our fields and make a ton of money, and we both have the same outlook on marriage.
“It’s not for anyone. Ever.”
I don’t know why we still followed through on something we didn’t like. Maybe I just liked the idea of wedding a big poofy princess dress, or maybe I just liked the idea that someone wanted to spend the rest of their lives with me and that made me feel special.
I liked the attention, and maybe that was what I always wanted. Not love, not a career. Just attention.
Maybe that was why I chose to confide in you after breaking up with your best friend instead of talking to my best friend. Maybe that was why I cheated on my ex because I liked the fact that instead of one, I have two guys paying attention to me. Maybe that’s why I still went through with the wedding because I liked being at the centre of attention; The gifts, the flowers, the flashing lights. Maybe you weren’t as bad as I thought. Maybe I was the one that brought out the darkness in you so I could keep fighting with you and tell my friends all about our relationship problems so they would pay all their attention to me when we went out. Maybe that’s why when you stopped responding to my texts and calls and focused on my work. I put in all my efforts to rise to the top so people would have to pay attention to me again. Even when you called for a divorce, I wasn’t sad because we were going to be separated. I was sad that no one is going to pay me attention after hours.
Maybe it’s the fault of my absent father, or my narcissistic mother, or the fact that everyone around me just gave in to my needy tendencies. But I know full well that it was all me. I simply didn’t want to face my issues, and now I’m too old to keep using the “my bad childhood” card.
Sometimes I secretly look you up on your socials. I saw how you got promoted, how you met your sports hero, and you have a newborn daughter. She looks lovely, by the way. The smile on your face is more radiant than I ever saw in our 10 years of friendship/relationship/marriage. You’re really thriving now that I’m out of your life, aren’t you? You deserve it. It’s just, sometimes, on nights like this, I wonder what would have changed if we had never met. You probably would have spent your twenties playing around, acting like an idiot, and then slowly maturing into someone that a person could love and then loving her wholeheartedly. You won’t have to spend your twenties chasing some girl that will never feel the same way. You loved me so much to the exclusion of everything. And so did I. The person I’ll ever truly love is the person standing in my mirror.
Look, I don’t know if you have ever regretted meeting me. Truthfully, I’ll be shocked if you said no. But on occasions, much like this night, I regret being me.
© 2021 Alison Lian