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Finding Closure in a Pickle Jar

The first time I saw him it felt like kismet. As I searched his eyes to understand how I could feel this deep knowing in a complete stranger, all I found was this deep sense of home. I wanted to know everything about him and yet, somehow, deep down I already did.

 

When I left his tattoo shop that day, I remember looking up at the sky and a voice from outside of me said “this is the person you’ve been looking for”. I felt like I had been hit over the head. I messaged him a few days later because he was on my mind nonstop and I felt such an urge to know him better. I needed more time with him to test whether or not these intense feelings were real. I threw out a feeler asking if he had any designs in his repertoire that he would like to do. As flirted back and forth, I found myself back in the shop a few days later, preparing to get a major tattoo. Little did I know how much it would impact my life.

 

In our sessions, I felt so comfortable yet awkward. Everything in my being was screaming I know you! Am I crazy? Do you feel this too?! As we talked about life and our traumas, the feeling of an insanely deep connection to a complete stranger felt disorienting. We began chatting on social media and exchanged like-minded videos daily. Within a few months, our relationship was ramping up.

 

When we became intimate, it felt like a part of me that had been suppressed was finally coming alive again. We would talk about our future together; he would tell me how he longed for me and wished to live with me. I admit, he was the first man I truly saw myself having a future with. I would think about how great of a dad he would be, what our kids would look like and how we would always be each other’s rock on this journey we call life. Sometimes we would get together in my truck and talk for hours on end. We understood each other on a deep level, and more than anything, felt truly seen by the other.

 

This fairy tale would quickly dissipate because as amazing as this was, he would begin to self-sabotage and relapse with alcohol. The connection we felt, and the rate at which our relationship was progressing became to be too much for him to handle because it would mean facing the wounds that held him back, and ultimately making choices to change his situation.

 

You see, in his past relationships, he would choose partners that reminded him of his mother. Narcissistic, emotionally unavailable, and according to him, just about all of them were cheaters. With that said, I can imagine that the idea of being with someone who truly saw him and loved him unconditionally could be terrifying.

 

As his addiction began to take over, his communication became inconsistent. He would frequently ghost me and block me. Only to come back and love bomb the shit out of me. Every time I would try to end things, my boundaries weren’t respected, and he would come to my apartment in the middle of the night. The inconsistency was draining, and I was having major trauma flare ups and sunk into a depression.

 

In one of our last interactions, he relapsed hard. We hadn’t spoken in almost a month and he began texting me to say how much he loved me. It turns out, he had been drinking in his car that night. Around midnight, I awoke to find him wasted, standing in my bedroom trying to get into my bed. We talked for a little bit, but he was so drunk I couldn’t let him drive home, so I made him stay to sleep it off a little bit.

 

When he left around 5am, I didn’t hear back from him. Confused, and worried I messaged him to see if he made it home safely. After that night, I would hear from him intermittently until one night he messaged me begging to FaceTime. He was drunk again and driving around on rural back roads so he could spend the night in the woods. We talked for over two hours and in that time, he told me how much he loved me, how me wanted to have children with me and even had names picked out.

 

I asked him to share his location with me in the event that something happened to him while he was on his drunken vision quest. It was in that moment that I realized I wasn’t even a contact in his phone. Crushing blow. Apparently, this man wants to have a family with me but I’m not even a saved contact?

 

The next morning, I messaged him to see if he made it through the night safely, and he responded that it was what he needed to find sobriety. To which I agreed, because he was a dangerous drunk. When I brought up everything that he said to me the night before, he replied, “well that’s embarrassing for me” and blocked me again.

 

Weeks later, I got a message from him that he “missed our friendship”, whatever the hell that’s supposed to mean at this point. I asked him if we could meet to have some closure; only to be blocked yet again. This time it would be for good.

 

As angry as I was, what hurt the most is that I truly felt that our connection was genuine. And I admit, it was foolish for me to not see the writing on the wall earlier, but I think like most women, we tend to see the potential in someone and cling onto that image of them. At least, that’s what I did with him. I saw the amazing person he was under all of the trauma and I could see the person he could be with some love and support. Lesson learned.

 

Months went by and I tried to get him out of my mind. I tried everything from energetically banishing him, to cord cutting, rage processing – you name it. No matter what I did, he was always there in this emotional undercurrent.  And I do admit that as much as I wished him well, part of me was keeping my heart open for the rare event that he would come to his senses and realize the potential of what we had together. But more than anything, I wanted closure. And an apology for the months of emotional torment. For him to take some ownership that he treated me like I was a disposable piece of shit.

 

On a snowy Saturday morning in a grocery store, I would get that chance. I parked my truck to go shopping and out of the corner of my eye, I saw his beat-up gold Camry zipping through the parking lot. My heart began racing. This is it; either I go in and confront him, or let it go and move on with my life. I chose option A. As I walked into the store, I felt like I was going to pass out. Seeing him innocently perusing bulk granola, was like an out of body experience. Here he was, standing just a few yards in front of me. The chance encounter I had hoped for.

 

I walked up next to him and whispered, “finding everything you’re looking for?”, as he turned around, we locked eyes and I swear my heart was visibly beating out of my chest. His face changed from the man I loved to that of a complete stranger. He looked older and dreadfully unhappy. Like he was just trudging through life. I longed to hug him. Or punch him in the throat. Maybe both? I couldn’t decide.

 

As I tried to stay calm standing in his presence, I searched for something to say. My mind went blank. Well, that’s a lie, my mind was racing with a million and one questions. What have you been doing this whole time? Did you ever think about me? Do you ever miss me? Do you feel sorry for the shitty way you ended things? Do you ever feel guilty that you told me I was your person and then dipped? Did you really think you could go through life without having to confront me?

 

As he tried to fight the awkwardness of my complete silence, the only thing I could muster out is “I hope you’re happy”. To me, this was a dig on multiple levels. The only polite way I could effectively consolidate the millions of aforementioned questions in the cleanest way possible.

 

As we made small talk for thirty minutes, my internal dialogue was screaming; and yet, on some super fucked up level, part of me still missed him. I still longed for all that we could have been. As we walked to the dairy aisle together, I blurted out “You know, it’s really fucked up how you just ghosted me. If you communicated your feelings better, I would have understood and given you all the space you needed”. But rather than apologize to me, he made excuses for himself. He deflected everything I said and turned it back on me.

 

He was emotionally avoidant then and clearly, still is. At this point the only thing my eyes can focus on to stop from crying in the middle of a store is this jar of pickles on the shelf just above his shoulder. I deviate from the conversation; and grab the jar of pickles. Coincidentally, the same ones we snacked on the first time we hung out. All the promise that version of me felt back then, and now, this version feels emotionally feel war torn and broken holding that jar as we move to the checkout.

 

He offers to pay for them, saying “it’s the least I could do”. That’s the least you could do? What the fuck does that mean? Hey, sorry for treating you like shit let me get you some pickles to make up for it? I’m sorry, but the least you could do is take ownership for the ways in which your behavior impacted me. Fuck your pity pickles.

 

As we walked back to the car, our last words were about some bullshit movie he suggested I see as if we were friends again. Then, he drove off like nothing happened. Stunned, I got in my truck and sobbed the entire way home. I couldn’t tell if I was angry or sad or maybe even a little frustrated?  Whatever it was, seeing him fucked me up. Later that night, as I relayed the story to my cousin, he reminded me that this man never cared for me and his behavior was indicative of that since day one. He was right but, still, the validation hurt.

 

When I woke up fuming at 2am, I could, for the first time, fully see how he felt towards me. He never cared. Everything he said during our entanglement was nothing more than pillow talk to keep me on the proverbial hook. It was always just to keep me in the tiny space in his life that he allotted to me. My role was filling the void he felt in life. Maybe it was just sex, or maybe it was his inner child desperately wanting to be loved by someone. I don’t think I will ever know for sure.

 

 The fact of the matter is, men who love you will move mountains for you. They heal your hurt, they don’t intentionally add to it. And if they’ve fucked up, they sure as shit will own up to it and apologize. As I write this, part of me is thankful that he never cared for me. Because, I learned so much about myself through our interactions and now, I feel liberated.

 

It wasn’t the final conversation I had hoped for; and I certainly never envisioned it in a grocery store.  But the universe works in funny ways. I never would have thought that a jar of pickles would bring me all the closure I needed.

 

JB, if you’re reading this, thank you for everything. Including the pickles.

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