Ouch: November 15, 1998.

I've never had an online journal. When she was writing hers, I would occasionally think of things that would be cool to put in one of my own, but I always resisted, for several reasons: None of these apply any more, except maybe it seems like I'm copying her. Well, screw it, I'm not really in this to impress anyone with my originality. It's not like the pain of losing your soulmate hasn't been written about a zillion times by authors more talented than I. As I've said, and will keep saying, I'm writing this so that I can stop having all these thoughts jangling around in my head.

(To be honest, it would be lying to say I was happy -- for the last several months I've been depressed. But, my life was happy, I was just chemically unhappy in it. I certainly didn't want to write about nameless unhappiness, because that usually ends up being really pretentious and boring.)

On Sunday, she came back from a trip to Oregon. She had meant to go last week, but I was stressed and sick and I asked her to stay for a little longer.

She had told me that she wanted to go because she likes travel, and since I generally don't like travel, she wanted to start taking trips on her own. This all could have been true, but it was all a lie -- she was going to meet him, to give him a test run, to see if he was good in bed before she decided to dump me for him.

So she delayed a week, and lied through her teeth a while longer. On Thursday and Friday I tried to help her go -- I told her I was happy she was getting away, I made sure she had money for her trip. I got her a little chocolate and put it on the table where she'd find it. I lent her my cell phone in case she got in trouble. I always tried to take care of her.

I thought, great, she's able to do the things she wants without me having to be a part of them. Isn't this what a relationship is about? You don't need, can't expect, your partner to do everything with you. That's why you have friends. That's why she was friends with him, had been for many years. He had other interests than me, interests that she shared, and I thought that was great. I wanted her to be fulfilled.

But it turns out she had been attracted to him for a while, and their weekly phone conversation turned into an on-line flirt (I don't know the extent of this, because I'm chicken to ask and my days of e-mail snooping are behind me).

So she ran off to Portland for a sex weekend, and left me here playing games (and still sick). I guess she felt too guilty to take the chocolate I gave her. Next time I have a girlfriend, I'll know how to find out if she's cheating on me -- I'll just give her chocolates every day.

She called me from the hotel, on my cell phone. She told me about her day, and it was all a lie. I could tell she was lying about something -- after nine years I can just hear it in her voice. I asked her if she'd been drinking, she said no, and quickly hung up. He was in the room. IN THE FUCKING ROOM.

The first time she tried to call me she ended up calling the cell's number and leaving voicemail for me on it, which was a nice little lie-bomb for me to discover later.

For a couple weeks now, she's been pulling away from me, and I couldn't tell why. I tried to talk to her about it, but she thought I was too weak for the truth, and she was falling in love with this other man and figured if she told me about it I would stop it. I would ask her about wedding stuff, and she'd brush me away with, "Oh, that's not going to happen anyways, we just talk about it." I'd assure her that I very much want to marry her, and would do it tomorrow in a courthouse if she wanted, and she'd say, "let's not worry about it now." I reminded her how she had always said she didn't want to be one of those people who was permanently engaged without any real plans to get married, and said we should either set a date or not be engaged. She didn't say anything. I was such an idiot.

She says she was afraid I didn't have the strength to be dumped, that's why she lied to me. Maybe I don't. Maybe I'll wither up and die -- the jury is out. It's certainly what I want to do, but it's harder to do than you think. People keep coming over and interrupting my wither.

She said was planning to wait until after Thanksgiving to dump me, even after her sex weekend with him. Not good thinking on her part, really -- "Let's go have Thanksgiving with your Dad and sisters and grandma so you can show me off as your fiance and THEN I'll dump you." But when she came back from her trip, I asked her if it had resolved things for her. I thought, maybe now she sees that I'm not the limiting factor in her life -- that she can be whatever she wants when she's with me -- I will never hold her back, I just might not go along on all her ventures. She doesn't come on all mine, it just seems logical.

Well, yes, it had resolved stuff, but I won't get ahead of my narrative. She gave me a "let's just wait to talk about this answer," which is, like, one of the least effective brush-offs in the world, because you know full well when she won't tell you the answer it isn't going to be "I love you more than ever and want to be your wife until we die".

She was tired, she said, and going to go nap. Of course she was tired -- she had both had a sex weekend and been crying about what she was doing to me, and hadn't slept in days.

So, I followed her home. When I got there, she finally realised she couldn't put it off, and she sat me down and told me she'd lied, she'd been with him, she was leaving me. She loved him more than me.

I was destroyed. She was the center of my world. She still is, dammit, she's just not there, so instead there's just a really big hole. Right now the hole seems bigger than everything else combined. Maybe I really have gotten that small.

I cried like I have never cried before. I howled. I don't usually know how to cry, even when I'm upset, I just push the emotions down automatically, and let them make me sick, rather than crying them out. But there was no pushing this down. Not all of it. I would cry, and stop, and we would try to talk, and I'd realise again that she was leaving me, that she loved him more, and I would realise again that my life was over, that the person I loved most, the part of my life I loved most, was not going to be with me any more, and I'd start crying again.

Of course, this just confirmed to her how weak I was, how much I needed her. She offered to stay with me a couple days, but when I probed it was because she was just worried about me crumbling away, not because she loved me more. I told her to just go. That night.

"Where do you think I should go?" she asked. I realised that I was through taking care of her, I was through trying to do helpful things. "I guess that's not really my problem," I said, in a kind of inverse-and-more-polite Rhett Butler imitation.

So, why did she leave me? As near as I can figure, and it's hard when you've been lied to, she has two main reasons:

Well, anyone reading this over 25 knows that you can't compete with a fantasy. Of course he could make her life completely full while at the same time giving her exactly as much space as she needed, and, hey, he can probably heal the sick and cure the lame, too.

The irony here is, yes, maybe my life had gotten small, and maybe that was limiting her. But her other rational was that I made her comfortable, she couldn't become what she wanted to as long as she was comfortable. This is something I can see -- it's hard to leave comfort for real happiness. But, really, how uncomfortable is she going to be with this new guy? He's a successful software guy, just like me. He's going to support her, just like me. What, exactly, is different?

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