After a few years of dating very little, I met Mike. I don’t know why, but after five months dating, we got engaged.
I was twenty-one.
One day, we were taking a walk through a park, and as we did so, I saw a man sitting on a large rock near the beach. He wasn’t doing anything important—maybe just eating a sandwich or something. But he was looking at the water, and it seemed to me that he wouldn’t rather be anywhere else, with anyone else—that he just wanted to be alone.
I used to do that, I thought as Mike and I walked by. Back when I didn’t have a boyfriend.
Back when I was strong.
I was jealous.
I never forgot that feeling. I wished so much that I was him, but I couldn’t be—not yet.
I still didn’t know how to be alone.
I didn’t get married that year. I broke up with Mike, and that was difficult. But I remembered something my dad once told me about the woman he fell in love with that eventually became his first wife. He said that he tried to leave her once and drive away, but after a little while, he realized that he just couldn’t go any further. So he pulled the car over to the side of the road, got out and took a walk. When he got back in after an hour or so and started driving again, the car was pointing back the way he came.
“That’s when I knew I was in love,” he said. “I couldn’t leave, even when I tried.”
That was good advice.
After I left Mike, I didn’t want to turn the car around. Not very badly, anyway. I knew that leaving him was the right thing to do. And after I got over the hard part of remembering what it was like to be alone, I didn’t miss him too much anymore.
Leaving has always been pretty easy for me, actually. Not just romantic partners, but friends, too, and family. I never felt like I couldn’t leave someone anytime I wanted to and be fine with it.