The Hardest Thing I'll Ever Have To Do Is Walk Away Still Loving You

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The Hardest Thing I'll Ever Do Is Walk Away Still Loving You

I had to do it, and it broke my heart.

We're still friends. We text each other regularly. You come to my house. You have more in common with my husband now because I don't like to watch movies, and the two of you stage film marathons until 2 AM. I wander off to bed at 11.

You see me in my yoga pants and nursing bra. You see me nurse, in fact, and neither look away nor stare. You asked me about it once, if I wanted you to look away. I laughed. You've already seen it, so who cares? You nodded ruefully and my hungry baby kept sucking. This is where we are.

I got married almost nine years ago now. You married two years ago to your on-and-off, depression-ridden, fashion-obsessed girlfriend. She looks startlingly like you: tall, with dark hair and a long nose. You could pass for twins.

She's my friend now, too. When you fight, I counsel both sides but I'm always careful to keep fault from you. I tell you you're in the right. I tell her that it sucks he acts like that, wow, so terrible, you should give him another chance.

I could lie, but it's because I love you more than her.


I do love you, you know. I don't remember how we met but you had roommates I knew from undergraduate, and you had cocaine, and you invited me over for some bumps and good conversation. We chattered all night, the way you chatter when you're on coke: in sudden revelations, in quick, nodding agreements.

I wanted you. But you didn't do blondes. But some night, that night or a night after, driving around listening to Tom Waits in your long, long, long sedan, we worked our way back to the bedroom.

You were as thin as me  all bones. We talked and realized, in our evolved notions of college sexuality, we were both submissives. Radical submissive, too, not the type to ever get on top.

We argued about who would top. Finally, I won, and you pinned me while you f*cked me. It took you a long time and I opened up too much from your thrusting.

"Put your legs together," you told me, who'd always prided myself on being tight. You finally came. It was among the worst sex I ever had.


But I persevered. I learned you were a submissive because of your mother issues: she hadn't wanted you, hadn't treated you well, probably suffered from a wicked case of postpartum depression. You wanted to be taken care of the way your mother never did when you were small. It made such keyhole psychological sense, along with your need to be alone for long periods of time, and your foot fetish (which I refused to partake in).

We both kept going. I slept in your bed a few times, and you decided one day to bring out the duct tape. You taped me to the bedposts and had your way with me, and it didn't take you long that time.

When we peeled my wrists off, we found the tape had left unmistakable gummy rings around my arms. And I had to teach. I had to move through society. I explained them to one person, my future husband. He snorted with derision for you.

The sex was bad, but you were so pretty. You resembled nothing more than a grown-up Harry Potter.

Inspired by our coke-fueled ramblings, you wrote me a poem about my dead boyfriend, and how we change the way we remember the dead. Basically, it said I needed to forget about him. But no one had ever written a poem for me, much less a villanelle, much less something good. I still have it in my file cabinet, but I don't need to look. I remember the words.

Deep down, we were mismatched. I knew it. You were beautiful and dynamic and a repository for my secrets. We could talk about writing and yell about poetry and I could kiss the protrusions of your pale, pale collarbones.


But the sex was terrible. You deserved someone who was sexually compatible, who would tie you up and whip you and do whatever foot fetishes do. I had another boy on the horizon, too. One not as good looking, but one far kinder.

So I made my choice. On the beach, the Atlantic rolling in the late summer afternoon. I agonized. I thought. But in the end, I nearly tore my heart out and I chose my future husband. You were embarrassed, though you tried not to show it.

Even with the bad sex and the long periods of alone time, I would miss you. I loved you. The hardest thing I'll ever have to do is to walk away still loving you.


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