Reply, Relief, Remorse


Alex wrote me back.

Of course he did—I knew he would. All the same, it was a relief to see his name in my inbox.

His email was short, sweet, and just as polite as mine had been to him. He wrote about his hectic schedule, his car breaking down, and his tentative-til-they-actually-happen plans for the future. Reading it reminded me of how up-in-the-air his life has always been. When we were together, it felt like my life hung in the balance with his, and I realized that I haven’t missed that feeling in the least.

Alex is far from what any sane person would call “stable.” Although his commitment to me and to our relationship never wavered, the rest of his life always balanced precipitously on plans and ideas that were iffy at best. For the most part, his life was about as reliable as a post-iceberg Titanic—and at times, it felt like it was sinking just as fast.

This isn’t all his fault—he does the best with what he has and rolls with life’s many punches. But as his partner, I used to bear the brunt of his ups and downs along with him. Although I was more than happy to do it at the time, after a while I got a little woozy.

Unlike Alex, I’m the kind of person who thrives on organization and plans. I can have the occasional spontaneous adventure, but when it comes to thinking about the future, I like to keep it tight. As much as I’d love to be the type who goes where the wind takes me, I’m more likely to stand against the wind, feet firmly planted on the ground until I know where exactly this breeze is going and when it plans to get there.

Surprisingly, this difference caused very few problems while Alex and I were together, and while it may have contributed to our downfall, it didn’t cause it. But now that I have some distance between me and “us,” I can’t help but feel relieved that my fate is no longer tied up in his. Relieved, and guilty as hell.

On one hand, it’s nice to stop worrying about what catastrophe awaits him around the corner. But on the other hand (and contrary to what I may have implied in the past), I never wanted him to go through it all alone. If he had written back to me explaining how everything is falling into place for him and his future looks bright, I’d be happy.

As it is, his life is still shaky and I still feel his pain. Even though his problems are no longer my problems, I remember what it was like to have his them affect my life, and of course they have an even bigger impact on him. Despite the guilt, I can’t help but feel like a weight’s been lifted from my shoulders. I have a hard enough time managing my own life without factoring in someone else’s. Maybe one day Alex will have it all figured out, but in the meantime I need to just worry about myself and move on.

This article was originally published at . Reprinted with permission from the author.