How could she trust herself? No one trusted her. Her friends and parents all asked with cruel doubt if it was for real this time. She had said this was the last time so many times that she couldn't even be bothered to tell anyone about it this time. She was afraid, apathetic, and annoyed at the prospect of telling her friends and parents about this time. Mostly, though, she didn't trust herself to know if this time it was for real.
She had told herself it was. She knew, in principle, that she was the boss of her choices and that she, and only she, could tell if it was final or not. She knew this so well - in principle, that is. How was she to trust herself to walk away from the only man she knew for 16 years? How could she know if this was what she wanted - to be done with him? Where would she store all her memories? If only she could get rid of them. Scrub them off of her like the stench of a hangover on day-old breath. Peel each remnant away like the last dead dredges of a sunburn. Gnaw away at each last scab of memory he left her with.
This time, she told herself, this was it. This time, she would not let him back in. This time, she would remember all the hurt he branded her with. This time, she would let her scars be her guard. She knew he didn't love her. Love couldn't make a person hurt anyone the way he did. People who love each other don't demean, belittle, and control each other. He had stopped loving her a long time ago. She couldn't remember which fight it was and which time it was that he stopped taking her phone calls and disappeared for months on end. But it was years ago. It had been years since she felt loved by him, cared for by him. Sex was out of the question. He found her so loathsome that he couldn't see her naked anymore. It took days - even weeks - of cajoling to get him to meet her for a meal. Secret meetings suffocating in excuses, made non-persuasively to her parents, and reeking of his singular disinterest in seeing her. Why? Why doesn't he seem interested - she flustered herself sick. She agonized each time about behaviors she could try on as though for size in a Macy's fitting room. Anything to make him like her. Her hair changed color. Her wardrobe changed style. Her boundaries to experiment sexually bent. Her language morphed to try to make him hear her. She wasn't entirely sure she knew herself as anyone other than who she thought he wanted her to be. Nothing was enough though. Not for him. She was fat. Her parents weren't rich enough. Her skin was too dark. Her face too pock-marked. If she only talked to him more. Listened more patiently. Argued less. Nodded quietly. Something must give. Yet, after giving everything a try in the fitting room that was his opinion, she emerged defeated and unfitting. He just didn't love her. And she couldn't make him.
So, this time, was really it. She wasn't sure she had any sense of self or dignity left. She had no pressure to get married and settle down, as was common among her peers. She wasn't guided by fear to be with him. She was guided by - . Well, she didn't know what she was guided by. She knew it was complicated, difficult, and every other synonym that buried her deeper in the I-can't-do-this hole. The thing was she didn't know if she wanted this to be over. She was so used to 16 years of uncertainty that she wasn't so sure about a life of knowing anymore. Then only polar unchangeables were the grays of her fragmented relationship. She didn't know if she could do this. She wasn't so sure if this time was really it.
She reached for her phone and dialed his number quickly - before she doubted her own uncertainty.
"It's me. I’m sorry. I don't want to fight. I don't want to end this. I want to be with you. Please don't leave me." She heard the words come out of her mouth before she could catch them, stifle them, and stow them away. She couldn't even trust herself to do that.