This morning, my ex-husband came to pick up the kids. Ever the hospitable host, I mentioned I had one croissant left. Would he like a breakfast sandwich? Never mind that I had not eaten myself. Of course, he said yes. There I went, off to the kitchen as he sat at the dining table with the boys. And as I idly tended to the cooking and plating, I felt the strongest sadness in myself.
This is who I am. This will always be who I am. It doesn't matter how shitty someone will treat you, you will never complain. Never fight. You will always care. You will always err on the side of kindness and consideration, like a chump. And I hated myself for that moment. I wished with every molecule in my body that I could be the spiteful and vindictive type, but I couldn't.
I fed him. Made small talk. Hugged and kissed my kids goodbye. Felt the emptiness set in. I thought of all my exes right up to the most recent.
All the men I've loved more than they ever loved me... you're fucking pathetic.You will never be enough.
I buried myself under blankets and tried to hide from my own self.
I didn't succeed.
I went into work later that day, devoid of spirit. A fraying husk of a person. The whole evening, nothing but a handful of people. One regular, going through his own relationship woes offered commiseration. I was on autopilot. I smiled and responded with the most generic platitude I had at the ready.
"Oh, you know. There's somebody for everybody. I just wasn't his somebody."
I was ... blank.
At some point, I realized I hadn't eaten the whole day. It was going on 9 pm. I forced myself to have a slice of pizza knowing that if I didn't, I'd get sick. The cook was rightly worried - I wasn't eating. I was always eating. Why wasn't I eating? I think I ate that one piece more to appease him than to put something in my belly.
Another regular asked if I would do a shot with him. I usually don't. Drinking behind the bar isn't my gig. But I said yes. Out of spite for myself.
I messaged a friend two short sentences. I am losing my defiance.I am losing my will.
"You are stronger than that."
I am not.
"You. Are. Sure you're allowing yourself a moment of weakness, but you are."
I didn't feel that to be true. But I knew arguing would lead nowhere and didn't bother to message back.
Then, I once again stewed. I ran through all the times I had met adversity with my chin up. Shoulders squared. The countless instances I turned the other cheek. The ridiculous amount of pain and heartache I had suffered through thinking that in the end, it would be okay. As long as I continued to put good out into the world, I would be okay.
What a fucking crock of bullshit. I felt the war within myself. The battle against becoming who I once was, who I strived to never be again. Cold, cruel, indifferent, unfeeling.
By this point, everyone had left. It was just me and Johnny. Not everyone cares for him. He's a talker. In the grand scheme of things, he's not an angry drunk, he's almost always polite, and despite his tendency to have an opinion about everything under the sun, he has a good heart. There are far worse customers. I am not bothered by him.
He called to me as I was cleaning, said he wanted to gift me something. He pulled that something out of his wallet and from where I was standing, it was square and shiny. For a second, I thought, There is no way this dude is trying to give me a f**king condom.
Still, I was curious and walked over. It was a flattened chocolate wrapper. It had obviously been sitting in his wallet for quite some time.
"Now," he started, still holding it gently in front of me. "it's not what it is, it's what's written on it. I'm going to show it to you and I'll leave it up to you if you want to take it. You can tell me 'No thanks, keep it' or you can have it. No pressure."
He laid it down on the bar, some cheesy inspirational quote. On a tiny piece of foil that he had been carrying with him for who knows how long.
And in that moment, I felt my eyes welling. I swallowed to clear the lump from my throat. Quietly, "I needed this. Thank you."
He gave me a hug. Through a muffled sob, I managed to mumble, "It's been one hell of a week."
There it was. The good grace of the Universe reminding me that kindness is necessary. Compassion is key.
I remain soft. With no intent on changing.