I ducked out lamely. Not as lamely as ghosting the guy or sending a text. We’d gone out about ten times, after all. A face-to-face conversation was required.
But I wasn’t really honest. When you break up with a guy, sometimes being honest may show more brutality than integrity. So I didn’t mention that he talked so much, with never-ending anecdotes, that it was hard for me to feel present. (Would he have had these monologues with his dog had I been unavailable?) I didn’t mention his alarming fussiness, insisting that my coffee table was too close to the sofa and needed to be re-positioned immediately and pointing out dust on top of my fridge during his one and only visit to my place. (Maybe I should date shorter guys.) And I kept to myself the fact that I never got off the fence regarding whether or not I found him attractive. I accepted these issues as my problems. People have said I’m too picky. People have said I need to settle. (Do they really mean I think too highly of myself? In essence, I am definitely not all that. I should just be happy anyone is even slightly into me...when he finishes his near-endless stream of soliloquies.)
Alas, I still have standards, however unrealistic. And my heart wasn’t into drawing things out when I’d finally realized things weren’t progressing and had no chance of getting on the right track. I owed Lance an explanation. I went with a version of the clichéd, It’s not you, it’s me. I needed to be specific enough to be convincing.
I played my mental health card. Yes, I was the worst kind of bipolar poster boy. Technically, everything I said was true. After a period of mania which dissipated shortly after meeting Lance (surely that’s but a coincidence), I crashed into a deep depression and my low mood has continued for the past month and a half. More significantly of late, my anxiety has spiked, making staying home the most sensible option most days. Simply stated, I’d rather just cocoon until I’m able to ride out this wonky mess.
Truth is, if I were seeing someone who listened, I could have talked more about my mood and felt supported. I’d raised both my depression and anxiety before, but my comments went without any followup other than unrelated stories about his mother’s finickiness when dining out and some glitches that came up with one of his writing assignments. (Yes, he’s a writer, too. Cool! But having things in common is not nearly as important as truly gelling.) I’d felt awkward, having revealed vulnerable parts about me and feeling unheard.
Maybe his failure to be curious or even compassionate proved to be the deal-breaker, the final nail after the one-way communication, the fussiness and the questionable attraction. It’s hard to take a risk, sharing parts of me that feel like flaws—indeed, their own deal-breakers—and having my words hang in the air and float away, seemingly unnoticed.
I took the easy—almost unforgivable—route. I was the fall guy. I’m the one who’s not good enough. I’m too messed up to be in a relationship. It was an Oscar-worthy performance for a despicable role. I did what I had to do to be free again. Maybe I thought a face-to-face conversation was noble, maybe I thought sparing him of hurtful honesty showed kindness, but I should not have misused my mental health conditions. Easy to do and yet wholly disappointing.
People who deal with depression and anxiety are deserving of thriving relationships. Feels like I gave the opposite impression, just to avoid a more awkward conversation. For now, I’ll go back to my cocoon and deal with my mental health issues...safely and on my own.