It was a timing much like other realized moments of accounting in my life. I sat at the red light. Chest tight, my eyes wet and slippery, the church on the opposite corner rang its bells. Its enormous clock had struck 7p while I was waiting at the intersection. Like a reverberant pang of regret, the tolling of the bells echoed the hollow sentiments that had gripped a of hold me. The deep pangs of grief I had begun wrestling with physically pulsed in my ears as every dark note rang out from that church tower. The red light seemed to last forever. Seconds like minutes. My thoughts becoming a monsoon of physical discomfort. And that red halo cast down onto the sliver hood of my car, also colored me with a shade of self loathing I hadn't experienced in years.
A cold reality I had doggedly avoided for almost two years now, crept into my future planning quite painfully just a few minutes before I had reached that light.
I sat there, seething with a raging disbelief that I had once again shown my penchant for using shitty enabling patterns for coping in life. I once again ripped my own heart to shreds. I knew I had willfully ignored the flags for months. I once again ignored the lack of results when expressing my own needs. I had straight up given away three years of dedication under a personally enforced blind eye - and now was being asked for potentially fifteen years more of the same. To continue a perpetual state of unsatisfying relationship roles. I sat at that red light and blistered with incredulous laughter, tears, and white-knuckled fingers on a steering wheel.
Could I really be so angry at him for what I so plainly continued to enable? A friend in public, but spoken for in private. His holding back on communicating relationship issues with me under the guise of "looking out for my feelings". His absence in my everyday life. No. I wasn't going to lay all of this at his feet. He didn't make this the norm. I allowed it. I did this. My fear of demanding for myself that which makes my life enjoyable. My fear of admitting it isn't okay and it needs to change immediately. My lack of belief that I do deserve the good things with someone I care about. With every bell that tolled, I was mentally going through the checklist of what I needed, and not one box was marked off. A voice that was not just acknowledged, but respected and adhered to. Equal control of the relationship. Self-respect to demand and enforce what I need to be happy too. A fucking picture together. A good hump at least once a week. Yeah, three years - no pictures together. What was I thinking?
The light turned green, the bells were silent. My mascara shown all over the back of my hands in that emerald hued spotlight as I made my turn. No goddamn picture. Still invisible to the public. So many flags and no check marks.
This is the devastation many feel in life. Especially when you have all the dreams in place at the other's behest, but not a single step has been taken to make it a reality. It's devastating because you realize that you compromised yourself for a shiny, dangling piece of fancy that you eventually knew wouldn't take off - but you chased it anyway.
Now three more years of my life are gone, and it isn't even a new lesson learned.