With Time

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

With Time

I didn’t plan on telling him. 

Despite my current obsession with honesty (and yes, I considered the simple act of omission to be one of dishonesty), I really didn’t want to tell him. And yet, somehow the conversation had drifted, and there I was, sitting at the kitchen table eating homemade pizza as I confessed the entire ex-fiance ordeal.

“Wait: you were going to get married? And you didn’t tell me? I wasn’t going to be invited?” Jude questioned after I finished the whole story.

I smiled. Leave it to Jude to make significance out of nothing. Forget the fact that I cancelled the wedding last minute, an act that cost me the relationship of my family for a while. No, the only terrible ordeal of the story (as far as Jude was concerned) was that he hadn’t been included on the invite list.

“Um, your mom wouldn’t even let you talk to me when I had a boyfriend. Excuse me for assuming an invite to my wedding ceremony would not be appreciated,” I teased him.

“Um, a wedding is a big deal. And I’m seriously hurt that I wasn’t going to be invited. I would have gone. Who cares what my mom says?”

I responded in the only way I knew how without being incredibly awkward: I asked him what his traumatic story was, and then listened with empathic understanding as he confessed losing his virginity to a girl who at first glance seemed like the embodiment of purity and yet had actually wound up cheating on him too many times, an act he had tried hard to forgive and yet left him feeling hopeless in the pursuit of happily ever after and unable to trust anyone. It was the first serious talk I had ever really had with Jude, and I guess that’s why I wasn’t quite ready to let it go as we drove around the city, killing time.

“Jude, why didn’t your mom let you talk to me when I had a boyfriend?” I asked.

For years it seemed the only time we ever hung out was when I was single. Every time I had a boyfriend, Jude would disappear or make excuses not to see me. His favorite excuse: that his mother wouldn't let him see and/or talk to me.

“She thought it was torturing me.”

“Well, yeah, I kinda got that, but why? What happened that would make her think that?”

He turned down the music, and rolled up his window, looking at me seriously which he could do since we were stopped at a red light.

“Kayla, when we broke up...when it hit me that it was really over...I was in bad shape. I didn’t eat. I didn’t sleep....I cried...a lot. I wasn’t good at all. So when I told my mom that you had a boyfriend, she freaked out and didn’t want me talking to you. And she was right.”

I was silent. I had a feeling that’s what had happened, but I wasn’t prepared for Jude to actually say it. For the first time, I was entirely unprepared for what I should say. Should I say sorry? Apologize for breaking his heart? To me, an apology just seemed like I pitied him for having been sad over me, over our breakup, and I didn’t want him to think that because it wasn’t true. I was genuinely sorry, but like every Mathys, apologies were hard for me, and always sounded fake, forced, and entirely awkward. Should I give him an excuse then? Try and make him understand why we broke up? Why it had been so easy for me to move on? I probably would have, but when I thought about it, I really didn’t have an excuse. Sure, I was feeling immense pressure to have sex, to lose my virginity, and I just knew that Jude was  not going to be seduced by me, but what kind of excuse was that?

 "Oh yeah, I broke up with you, Jude, because I wanted to get my first time “over with” and I knew you wouldn’t want me? Oh and, everyone was telling me you were gay, and I actually believed them. No hurt feelings, right?"

 Um, yeah, no thanks. I’d rather not sound even more like a heartless bitch than I seemed to appear to be 90% of the time.

What I really wanted to say, what I really wanted to know, though, I couldn’t. At least not without sounding like the insecure, naive girl I was working so hard to leave behind. I mean, how do you ask why an ex-boyfriend thought you were worth being sad over without sounding like the beautiful girl who only sees ugly in the mirror? But the truth of the matter was that there really wasn’t anything that made me truly worthy of depression. I mean, sure, I’m smart, I’m motivated, I’m nice, I’m generally friendly and intensely caring, and I have a lot of potential to actually be somebody in this lifetime. However, I’m not particularly attractive, my family is borderline insane, and I’m perceived as shy and quiet because half the time, I feel like the words I speak end up being unintentionally interpreted in an entirely negative context. In reality, there was nothing about me that made me emotionally valuable in relationships, and yet, I had run into this sort of turmoil in every relationship: guys fell hard, and when the relationship broke, they did too.

It was such a baffling and frustrating concept to me, and nobody ever seemed to be able to tell me what, exactly, it was that made me so damn valuable to them. Knowing Jude’s response would probably be no more useful than anyone else I’d asked. Therefore, I couldn’t find it in me to form the question until, finally, during a moment of peaceful silence as we sat side-by-side on a glitzy neighborhood’s boardwalk, our feet dangling over water “portapotti” blue, I found the courage.

“Why?” I asked.

“Why what?”

“Why were you sad over me? There’s nothing to be sad about. I’m just...not worth it. I mean, the only truly impressive thing about me is that I’m really smart, but my brain isn’t something to be sad over. What was it about me that made me worthy of your sadness?”

He was silent for a moment, which was a good sign. If he had to think about it, I knew his words would be honest.

“I guess you’re just the only person I can really be myself around. Like, I don’t know, you’re just really fun to be around, but you’re really smart at the same time. I guess when we broke up it kinda felt like I’d lost the only person who understood me. And I didn’t even know what I did wrong. I just, I don’t know, felt like I really screwed us up somehow. It just didn’t make sense,” he finally admitted.

I was silent, hating myself for hurting him, thinking of all the other innocent people who’d probably felt the same way he did when I hurt them. And for what? To save myself from potential hurt? How could I not have seen that hurting everyone I loved was hurting me just as much? How could I not have seen that I was taking just as much as I was giving?

“Jude, I was in a really bad place,” I began, trying to formulate a proper excuse. “I just...no, I don’t want to make excuses. There aren’t any that could make the things I’ve done, right. I’m just...I’m sorry.”

Later, after Jude and I have long said our goodbyes for the day, I contemplate his words. I think of my first real boyfriend, of my intense disgust toward him, of how in a sense I had used him. I think of my ex-fiance, of everything he did, and everything that hadn’t been enough. I think of my first attempt at casual sex, of the email I’m still not sure he ever received, of the night(s) we shared that weren’t fair to either of us. And, lastly, I think of Jude, of how I've felt he has seen me from the second our eyes first met in Journalism class, of how incredibly perfect he has always been, of how amazing, how comfortable, how entirely myself he’s always made me feel, and how I had left him heartlessly because of a rumor I didn’t even know for sure was true.

I almost break down from the realization. How could I have been so cruel? What the hell was wrong with me? How can I ever make things right? Unfortunately, my mother is in my proximity during this near fitful breakdown, and notices the tearful expression on my face.

“What’s wrong with you?” she asked.


“Liar. What’s wrong? Something’s wrong.”

I almost want to tell her, tell her everything, beg her for answers, advice...but I know better, and I’m in no mood to fight. 

“I hurt a lot of people, and I don’t know how to make it right,” I say.


“It doesn’t matter,” I say, and I get up and start heading to my room.

“Yes it does!” my mother shouts after me. “Quit being so dramatic. Jeez.”

Normally, I’d yell something at her or maybe fire off with a comment of how I can’t tell her because she always turns everything into an argument, and takes everything personally, but I really was in no mood to fight. I just wanted answers. And since I wasn’t exactly on speaking terms with my usual confidant, I cracked open my journal and began to write with a single intention: Please just help me figure out how to make this right, brain.

But only one answer comes to me: time.

That’s it.

Isn’t there anything else I can do? Anything? Am I really just supposed to sit around and just let time fix everything? How does that even work?

Of course, it probably helps to have patience. Then, I could be comfortable waiting for time to fix anything. Because right now, it doesn’t seem like there’s enough time in the world to fix all the damage I’ve caused.

I sigh, but in my heart I know time is the greatest bit of wisdom in this situation. It came from the deepest part of myself, didn’t it? If only I were a patient person. Oh well. 

Nothing like an opportunity to learn, right?

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