The Hardest Answer

Doing the right thing is not always easy.

A few weeks after I started properly dating Olivier, I found an e-mail on my inbox. It was from my ex. I opened it, partially curious, partially terrified of what it had inside. I certainly did not see it coming.

Back in December I met him briefly. I wanted to see him. I wanted to talk to him. I wanted to touch him. I missed him. But more importantly, I needed to find out if I still needed him.

So we met and we chatted for a very long time about everyone and their mom before addressing the main issue. We opened up to each other like we had never done it before, not even during our best days. It was the most honest conversation we had had in ten years. Then the big question came:

What could we do to make this work again?

I gave my opinion. He gave his. We agreed. We disagreed. We argued. We hugged. We said goodbye. That was it.

I went back home that night with the reality of what had happened that day sinking slowly in my heart: It was over. I had feelings for him. I would always have feelings for him. But I no longer saw myself having a life with him. I no longer saw him as the man I would want to spend the rest of my days with.

I had suffered. I had cried. I had regretted it at times. But after all the pain and confusion I went through during these past months, that was it. It was over. I had moved on.

I came back to Canada. I met Olivier. I allowed myself to feel for him something other than lust. And then I received that e-mail from my ex.

I didn’t have the energy or the strength to go through it, but even though I just gave it a quick glance, a much dreaded question popped out of the screen.:

Do you still mean what you said?

I didn’t know what he meant, so I had to read the whole e-mail. A sudden feeling of despair grew inside of me and got more overwhelming with every word that I read. I finally understood what he meant. I realized just how committed he still was to making our relationship work.

He basically told me that he was ready to sacrifice everything for me. I just had to say a word, literally one word, and he would quit his job, pack his bags, and move to Montreal. I just had to answer his question with a ‘Yes’, and he would be ready to change his life forever. For me. For us.

I felt like I would die.

I was afraid to say ‘No’ and close the door to ever getting back together with the one person other than my family that has truly, entirely, devotedly, and selflessly love me. But I was terrified of saying ‘Yes’ and let him sacrifice himself for my sake, when I wasn’t even sure if I could ever feel again for him what I had felt for so many years.

I was literally carrying the weight of the world on my back. Well, at the very least, I was carrying the weight of his world. I couldn’t bear such a heavy responsibility. I took my time to ponder the question. I let a few days pass by. At last, the time had come to make a decision even though deep down in my heart, I had always known what that answer was.

I was afraid of the consequences, but most importantly, I was afraid of how he would deal with the consequences. Regardless of how I felt, I still cared for him. I still wished for him to be happy. His happiness was with me. I just wished with all my heart that I could be happy while making him happy, but I knew I couldn’t force myself to it. I couldn’t fake a feeling because he deserved much more than that.

So I said ‘No’.

It broke my heart to know that whatever hope I had for us had disappeared the moment I hit ‘Send’. It broke my heart to know that this was the real goodbye. It broke my heart to know that I would be breaking his heart one last time. It broke my heart to know that as much pain as I was causing him, that answer also meant something for me: Release.

I couldn’t help but think that my answer was probably selfish and cruel. But I was also aware that this answer had finally set me free, and that felt good. So good in fact that it was sickening. So good in fact that I cried myself to sleep that night; not because it hurt, but because it didn’t.

Saying ‘No’ was the hardest answer, but only time will tell if it was the correct one.

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