You can’t leave someone who was never there to begin with, and you can’t end something that never began. You can only put him out of mind, forget the potential you clung to every time you read between the lines. And even if you ever got the chance to tell him, I just wanted to feel like I deserved love, too, understand that he didn’t care then and he never will now.
It’s not that you heard or saw only what you wanted. You made excuses for him until your few remaining friends couldn’t do the same for you, and throughout it all maintained awareness that you used any thread of conversation to justify his continued presence in your life. Now you understand that your love for him was deep and unearned and irrational and undeserved. Now you see that you didn’t let facts sway you when he said he needed you in his life, that he was afraid things would change between you both if you found someone who wanted you as much as you wanted him. You realize the folly in what you told yourself when you needed comfort: he will never come around, because you never fit his reduction, some man’s interpretation, of what it means to be a living, breathing woman. Your patience was pathetic.
It’s possible you’d still be waiting. But before he gave you a straight answer, the object of your unwanted love gave you the potential to bring a life into this world and the single choice to snuff it out. When the time came to make a decision, you imagined a life you never wanted. You could be six months pregnant, ready to stake a claim in your family’s legacy of single motherhood. As the months passed, you dragged your fingers against your empty stomach, wondering if he would have surprised you. But that’s a stupid thought, and sometimes you can be such a stupid girl.
You’re much less idiotic when you imagine the conversations you could’ve had with him. You were right when you decided you didn’t need another “worst outcome” to file away, not when this time was already far too close to your rock bottom.
This trauma behind you, now you don’t hope to be loved as much as you loved him. That is an age that’s come to pass. Rather, your hope is to one day overcome this cynicism, to break down the walls erected by pain and disappointment and violations of your trust, so that one day you can love like that again. It’s no sort of life, you realize, when you see an enemy in the people you kiss, a potential traitor in every lover you take to bed.
So focused on what he took, you didn’t understand that people also leave parts of themselves behind. So when you think you owe nothing to anyone, not even human decency, remember that this is his legacy. Don’t go claiming it as yours, regardless of all those choices you didn’t want to make.