It’s kinda like the “Return of the King”, but with a lot less action, adventure, and comedic outtakes from from sassy elves and sarcastic dwarves. Yesterday I experienced the end of the saga that has been weighing on me like the “One Ring” on Frodo for the better part of the last 6 months of my life.
I’m referring, of course, to my relationship with Matt. We broke up last September, which was the third time in 2016 but the third time was the charm and that was that. Throughout the year we tried, and swung wildly with attempts to course correct the track we were on, but in the end, all roads led back to being apart. After September, I concluded that not being together was a big mistake and did my best to convince him of the same.. but he was not receptive to my pleas.
He did, however, leave a door of hope open by saying that we could still meet and talk from time to time and even eventually “unpack some boxes” (which was our metaphor for discovery and resolution of issues) and I interpreted that as “a chance”. That same night, I vowed not to have any regrets and so to show how serious I was about putting more effort into “us”, I gave him a ring.
It was my favorite ring which happens to only fit on the “ring” finger of my left hand. He knows that fancy jewelry is not my thing and we had talked a time or two about wedding rings and so he also knew I didn’t care about diamonds. If I ever wear a ring, it’s going to be one I really like and would want to wear every day. I gave it to him in a little blue velvet box and said, “I want to be with you and I want to start over, and if at some point in the future you are ready to have more of a commitment you can give me this ring.” Or something like that.
Looking back now, it was awful and I was desperate, and after all that we had been through, I’m surprised he even agreed to take it. But he did take it, and that also left me with hope.
It was that open door of hope that proceeded to crush my soul for the next two months. It started with a few attempts at meet-ups on my part which always ended in rejection. An invitation to go to a poetry night which was declined. A lunch date that ended in my saying “I love you” only to be left unrequited. An invitation to go out of town for a week which was also declined. And finally the change I had to make to our reservations for two for my sisters destination wedding in Cancun from double occupancy to single.
I had advice from people to give him time and space, so I eventually did that but suffered terribly. There is only so much you can rely on other people for before they get sick of hearing it and don’t really want to talk about it anymore. After my own mom said “I think you need to see a counselor”, I knew I had lamented about my broken heart too much. After that, I came to just suffer in solitude. It’s kind of like when Frodo realizes the burden of the Ring is his and his alone and has to break from the Fellowship to finish the journey on his own.
I wrote in my journal every day. Sometimes I wrote several times a day. I drank too much and became sleep deprived. I had a mental breakdown at work and refused to take the lead on a big new project (which is something I had never done before). I put the parenting on auto-pilot and truly felt I was doing an OK job as long as I did not start bawling in front of my kids. A few times I could not hide it. I’m sure it affected them to see me that way. That’s probably one of the biggest reasons I had to try and “fix” myself.
At the start of the new year I felt like I was at the foot of Mount Doom. I was looking out at an impossible task and feeling that The Eye of Sauron was upon me. That may seem overly dramatic, but my life was just that heavy. And like Frodo, I really had no choice. There was no going back.. only forward.
So I started with the first step, which involved getting better sleep. I resolved to exercise more and eat healthier so I could feel physically better about myself because the mental and the physical go hand in hand. I put Matt out of my mind and tried to let go of things that were not in my control. I was on the switchbacks and making pretty good time.
A few weeks back I got to a stopping point and realized I needed to purge my house of any remaining artifacts he left behind. Doing this not only forced me to think about things again, but it also meant I would need to see him to give him his stuff which turned out to be a kick right in the gut. This “idea” of our five year failed relationship had been stalking me for months and was now doing everything possible to ensure that I failed. Yeah, you know that character. You have a huge distaste for him, yet he’s there for a reason.
When I dropped off his stuff, he extended an offer to meet for dinner and I begrudgingly accepted. That dinner was last night and it was very casual and non-confrontational. This was by my choice since I led the entire conversation and he never countered with anything deeper or related to “us”. At the end of dinner, he pulls out that little blue box and sets it on the table and says “I wanted to give this back to you (plus blah blah blah words I don’t remember because I was trying to keep my composure while staring down into a giant chasm of lava). So that was it.
But instead of throwing the ring down into the lava to be destroyed, I removed it from the box right then and there while he was watching me, and slipped it onto my ring finger, and smiled and said “Thanks for returning my ring”.
Now.. I will be able to rule them all.
PS. Special Thanks to My Samwise