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Two weeks ago at three o’clock in the morning, I left the Manhattan apartment of a man I had fallen in love with over this past year.
He asked me to leave, so I did. I walked two blocks alone in the rain down 131st in Harlem, knowing that I would never be back. It was a moment in time that was not simply about the events that unfolded that evening, but rather what lay beneath them.
It was a culmination of every second spent together this past year and many spent apart. It encompassed every unanswered text, every time I was told I wasn’t good enough the way I was, every word he was unwilling to hear me speak, every bit of control that I allowed him to exert over me, and every missed opportunity for things between us to be real.
It also held every beautiful conversation about life that we ever had, every laugh that we shared over a meal on the streets of New York City, and every time we looked each other in the eyes through ecstasy.
That night was an ending—a sad, anxious, painful, ending. One that I did not want to see coming, but one that needed to. I cannot go into the details, not because I don’t want to admit that some of the blame that evening fell on me, but because the details of this relationship have the potential to bring me to a place full of shame, that I am afraid of not being able to find my way back.
Such details are also irrelevant at this point. We don’t get do-overs, we don’t get to be different from who we are, we don’t get to change each other, but we only get to go forward and grow.
This morning, I was speaking with a friend, I guess you would call him an ex-lover. Through a quick burst of tears, I was recalling that night. At one point he said, “I wasn’t aware that you had issues with knowing your own value.” He was shocked to find out that I was struggling with my self-worth.
“I wish I could give you a hug,” he said. He is not the first person to say that to me recently. I’m blessed with people in my life who want to hug me when they see me hurting. My response though may have surprised him.
“You can hug me. I should let myself be hugged. I think it’s time to remind my body of what exists beyond my last relationship. I think it’s time to re-imprint this body.”
You see for the past year, I’ve known only one soft but distant touch. I have known only one hug, and it was filled with restraint from a man who kept me at arm’s length in ways I never thought were possible. The whole time I hoped for those hugs to become more relaxed, for kisses to flow freely, for his hands to run themselves through my hair or gently touch my cheek. I yearned to hear him say the words “I missed you” or “I’m sorry,” but none of those things ever came.
So I have decided that it is time to let another man erase a bit of that wanting, a bit of that needing, a bit of that hurt.
People who need to label things might refer to this type of moving on as rebounding. I like to think of what I’m seeking as “re-imprinting.”
I want an opportunity to help my body forget what it hasn’t yet let go of. I want to wake up in the morning sometime very soon and think about a different set of hands on my hips, the warmth of new skin next to mine, the sensation of being filled with someone else.
I want and need to feel the imprint of a new touch.
The thought of it makes me smile.