It means you stop trying to force others to.
It was a longish relationship, almost a year. You were my best friend. We're the same, we thought, and that's it. We had phenomenal sex, some of the best of my life. You introduced me to S&M and dildos, and a few times you f*cked me from behind with a dildo in my ass and I nearly died of pleasure.
We refused to take anything seriously. We lied and said we were twins. We shouted nonsense about goats and incest during sex when we knew someone was walking by outside the door.
You saved me from my assh*le ex. You told me to tell him I was leaving for a few days and you kidnapped me to the local seedy beach resort. We had sex in an anonymous hotel room, over and over. Later, we dared each other to get married in Vegas. "I'll do it if you will," you said. "I'll do it if you will," I replied. We went back and forth until a friend called and talked sense into us.
We'd drive aimlessly through the city, looping interstate to interstate, listening to Eminem and Billy Joel and bad 1990s grunge. We'd drive into the sun going down, music blaring, and I'd think, this is the way it's meant to be. This is us.
On summer weekends, we'd drive to your parents' house. We had sex in the hot tub in full view of the living room picture window, your dad's head turned to watch TV. One weekend, when they were gone, we played redneck and shot cans off your diving board, scaring the hell out of the local homeowner's association.
The summer was amazing. We kept a running chart of roaches killed taped to our refrigerator. You did the deed with a special roach-killing spoon, and then flushed them to the tune of "O Fortuna." If you killed three in one day, we called it a hat trick. Once, we were so drunk and stoned that we invited the pizza boy to come back and party with us. Hours later, he actually showed up.
One crappy afternoon, when I'd had a bad day and it was raining and nothing was going right, you showed up at my window, boombox in hand. You held it above your head and played Peter Gabriel's "In Your Eyes," not breaking my gaze, not moving, until the song had ended. I became the Say Anything girl.
But I liked sex, and you liked sex, and you were gone on the weekends so our relationship degenerated as we cheated on each other and refused to admit it. I hooked up with your roommate. You did it with a friend. I banged the delicious art student down the hall. Neither of us was being faithful, but neither of us admitted it.
Then, I got raped.
It was the standard drunk-girl-taken-advantage of, too wasted and too scared to do anything. But when I came back telling the tale, you didn't believe me. "You were just f*cking him," you said. "I don't know if we can be together anymore."
I begged. I pleaded. For three days, you kept me on tenterhooks. Then, the word came: you were breaking up with me. I cried. Hard. Then my friend took me down to the bar district and got me trashed. I hoped you would see me staggering home so drunk and come back to me, but if you saw, it didn't help. I'd just been raped and broken up with. I could hardly breathe.
I remember the first day without you. I wandered in the garden and tried to stay busy. It hurt like a physical ache. I'd lost my best friend. I barely made the rounds of my day, always thinking I'd lost you. I'd lost you. We couldn't avoid each other, so we just avoided eye contact.
You had promised to play Titus in my backyard production of Titus Andronicus. Some people had actually taken this seriously and memorized lines, and all in all we'd put together a decent amateur staging.
The day of dress rehearsal, you didn't show. We waited and waited for you. Soon word came down that you couldn't show up; you were busy f*cking Marianne. Marianne. Of all the people for you to f*ck, she was the one that looked most like me. We were always being mistaken for each other. Either you had a type, or you missed me.
In that moment, I gave you up. I wouldn't try to get you back again. If you were enough of an assh*le to f*ck my doppleganger instead of working hard on the play we'd put together, I could be finished with you. Shallow, shallow, glitz and flash you.
You took up rock climbing after we broke up. You chiseled yourself into a Greek God. I remember watching you walk down the sidewalk once. I turned around to see you from behind. You were gorgeous, and I missed you.
Letting go doesn't mean you stop caring. It means you stop trying to force others to.