It's weird the things you can't stand to look at after a breakup. Some of it is pretty normal- the card from minigolf, the selfies from camping, the Christmas card. But some of it took me by surprise. There was a period there where certain clothes I had made me cry, because I had worn them for special events with my ex and they felt so linked that even looking at them caused me to break down.

I'm lucky in that my ex never expressed much interest in helping me decorate my apartment. He helped me put my bed together but other than that this room has been decorated and made into my home by femmes. We rarely slept here, so it didn't smell like him. It had been months since he left me a teeshirt that smelled of his sweat. He never left anything other than a toothbrush, and even that was something I bought for him. I threw it away after I dumped him, and my housemate graciously used it to clean the toilet.

He also didn't give me much in the way of gifts that I felt I had to put away for a while. Some socks, a sticker book, some shoelaces and a sweater, that was pretty much it. Nothing too intimate, nothing too personal. He just wasn't romantic, I would tell myself, but I think it was more that he wasn't really present. I should be grateful, though, as it's been easier with this breakup to wipe him clean from my life in part because I've realized he was never that invested in it. He didn't leave a trace. Most of what he left me were memories, good and painful.

It's also weird, though, the things that I miss. The tea I drank at his place. The games we'd play. Replaceable things, granted, things I can buy for myself and enjoy with other people, associate those memories with someone else. Hopefully they won't sting at some point. Detoxing is hard, and I want to grasp for things that are familiar, the last tendrils of things that were good about him, about us. But there's not a lot to hold onto, and that was the whole problem all along.

I bought myself a heated mattress cover and I've had multiple friends and lovers sleep over the last couple weeks, and that's helped me not miss our spooning. I still feel pangs about our silly pillow talks, but more often than not the last few months those ended in discomfort and tears, not laughter and kisses. Each fond memory is overlaid with something painful, and it hurts, so much, but that pain is making it easier not to get sucked back in.

He told me I was burning bridges with him. I told him that if that was the case, it was only because the bridge was rotten and he had supplied me with the matches.

If anything this process has affirmed my worry that he had one foot out the door. I suppose I did too- I didn't leave much at his place, either, and was slowly gathering my things back over a couple of months before the split. It amazes me that he told other people that we were doing better while I could see we were pulling apart at the seams. But he used that reassurance, not for me, but for people he wanted to fuck. Realizing that gave me the feeling I had been kicked in the gut but I needed it. Sometimes you need that level of shitty truth to sever the bond.

Honestly, late at night I still feel regret, sometimes. Did I jump too quickly to end things? Was I letting my triggers make my decisions for me? But boundaries are something I knew I needed, and I didn't feel safe expressing. And while I may be missing some things, the gain of those boundaries, and the slowly returning capacity to negotiate what I want and need, is worth it. I wish he had been more open to those boundaries and negotiations, but if wishes were horses...

Categories: breakups, dating, fake it til you make it, loss, love is a dog from hell, male privilege

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