Jack and I broke up yesterday.
I am heartbroken.
I am heartbroken for so many reasons. Because I loved him. Because I loved our relationship. Because I loved the future we had planned out together - the adventures we were going to have together. The challenges we were going to face together. I thought they were large, but I spent a lot of time figuring out how to make them surmountable.
I loved the way we had begun to weave two very disparate lives together into something resembling a joint life.
I loved sitting on the couch with him while he studied and I worked, or he studied and I read, or he studied and I napped. He studied a lot. :) And I loved that about him. I loved how seriously he approached his work, I loved his dedication. I loved how passionate he was about flying, even though when I met him, I knew nothing - absolutely nothing - about it. I knew nothing about the military in general! But, as bizarre as it seemed to people who had known me to avoid any movie even remotely including violence, I loved learning about this strange new world. His passion was infectious, and no matter what question I asked (and I had a lot of them), he seemed to know the answer, and be able to explain it in a way I could understand. I loved that about him.
I loved his honesty and his loyalty and his unbelievably humble approach to life. Jack doesn’t have an egotistic bone in his body. He is kind. He is disciplined. In an age in which many of us have fallen pray to narcissism and self-involvement (including and most specifically me), he is the anti-thesis of that. He values service above all else. I had never met anyone quite like him. He helped me see how caught up in this false … whatever it is I had. Bravado, maybe? Insecurity masquerading as boastfulness? Self-involvement? He didn’t do it in words - I just had to be around him, and it became clear that the way I had led my life these past few years wasn’t the person I wanted to be, now, or in the future. He allowed me to see some aspects of my life clearly for the first time.
When I met Jack, I didn’t think this relationship had a shot in hell of working out (and I said as much to him!). Him, in the military for the next eight years (at least!). Me, ready to settle down in a serious relationship. Him, 25-years-old. Me … well, not 25. Not 25 at all. Him, in a stressful and demanding job that would take him away for long periods of time, including a three year tour in Guam, half a world away (with deployments from there). Me, attempting to launch a new column, unsure of where I want to live, but pretty sure it eventually involves San Francisco (where his job would never take him).
And yet, he reassured me about all of my concerns. I would bring one up, he would shoot it down. He was ready for a serious relationship - we talked about what kind of life we could have if we stayed together. But I kept trying to reconcile these two life paths … and I couldn’t. Him achieving his dreams would crush mine. And me achieving my dreams would crush his.
We could have continued, happily, for many more months, until he went away to Guam, and then I could have visited him, and we would have tried hard to make it through. But a few weeks ago, he got his schedule for the next 24 months, and it was more brutal than he had ever anticipated. Reality set in for both of us. And the reality is that his life is not conducive to a relationship. He will have literally no time for me, very soon. If it were just three years, that would be one thing. That would be really hard, but it would be possible. But it’s not. It’s eight years … and maybe more. When he looks down the line, the truth is, he doesn’t know whether he wants to stay in the military or not. And I don’t think - as much as I respect the incredible women and men who are military spouses - I don’t think it’s the life for me.
And so we come to yesterday. I started the conversation, not knowing it would end where it did. I told him how grateful I was for everything he had taught me, for everything he had brought into my life. I am. I told him how much I loved him. I do love him, very much. He is one of the most amazing men I have ever met in my life. I loved being his girlfriend. I don’t remember the last time I was this happy.
But as we talked, it was clear we both knew if we didn’t end it then, we would end it eventually, and because we loved each other, the longer we went, the more intertwined our lives would become, and the more painful the break-up. That’s the “logical” side of me talking. The illogical side has been crying for about 24 hours straight. Am I okay? No. I’m not okay. I’m not at all okay.
I’m heartbroken. I don’t know how else to put it. I don’t want to date anyone else. I don’t want to be with anyone else. And yet, I know I can’t be with him. So where does that leave me? I don’t even know.
I woke up this morning hoping it was all a bad dream. I even told him that I changed my mind, that I thought we should just keep going until Guam. I cried and cried and cried some more. But he - being the smarter of the two of us - told me that our logic was sound yesterday, and that extending it when we knew the ending would just create more pain, worse pain down the road. I know he’s right, but I hate it nonetheless.
This is an amicable heartbreak, as silly as it feels to write that out. We will stay friends, absolutely. We love each other, and have no desire to leave each others’ lives as people. And yet, right now, I look at him and all I see is my boyfriend. So this will take some time.
I will be in Coronado for the next few days. As some of you know, I had moved in (we made that decision over SXSW back in March). I will move all of my stuff back to Chicago on Monday.
Then what? I don’t know.
I wish I could show you how I’m feeling. I’m just raw. I’m exhausted. It hurts, bad. I thought he could be it … and I was so ready to build a life with someone. I wanted it to be him. I really did. I think he wanted it to be me. But just wanting something really badly isn’t enough, sometimes. Loving someone so much it hurts isn’t enough.
I feel broken.
And really, really sad.