Warning: This is gonna be a long post. And if you make it through, you’ll probably learn more about me than you’ve ever cared to know. I might panic and delete this later, too. Sorry.
Being in a relationship is hard. Being in a long-distance relationship. Even harder. Being in a long-distance relationship across country borders? Indescribable. Every day hurts more and more. And every day hurts less and less. And it’s a confusing bag of emotions.
Amor moved back to his hometown in Mexico in March. At that point we had been dating for almost three years and living together for six months or so. When he moved back, I went with him. We drove. It was a long trip. Long. For so many reasons. One was, obviously, the 3,000-mile trek across two countries. One was the elephant in the room: Knowing that when we reached our destination I would leave him there. I cried, silently, in a lot of hotel bathrooms on that trip. And in the airport before I left? Um. I was a mess. An embarrassing, embarrassing mess. I’m surprised they didn’t force me on an earlier flight to get me out of there. Blubbering fool that I was.
Anyway, to take a step back, Amor and I started dating after we met at the library. OK. OK. I was his teacher — his ESL teacher. Um. Inappropriate. I know. But his English improved really quickly, and my tutor coordinator was super impressed with my mad tutoring skills (still the butt of jokes with my family and friends). Moving on. When we started dating I was at least 271 pounds, maybe more. He fell in love with me when I was at my very worst. Thinking back, I think he needed someone to take care of. His sick mother and his three children were all at home in Mexico. And he was here. And I was here. And I was a weak mess. Someone who needed someone. And he was someone who needed to be needed. And it worked for us. I fell in love. He fell in love. And I never felt so special. So wanted. And we were happy.
But then, because he loved me I learned to love me. And I decided to treat myself better. I joined Weight Watchers. I joined a gym. I developed a life of my own that didn’t revolve around waiting for him to get out of work. Or center on what nights he had off. I started putting me first.
As I learned to depend on me and treat me better, I found a voice that I didn’t know I had. Don’t get me wrong, Amor was/is my biggest cheerleader. He celebrated every weight loss and every milestone with me. He still does. When I hit my PR on my 5k a few weeks ago, he gave me some of the nicest words of support and praise. When I hurt my ankle months ago and had to sit out on a race I had desperately wanted to run, he was standing in my corner (3,000 miles away, mind you) and offering his encouragement. Today, when I called him stressed and worried about my stupid gland problem and what it might mean, he was nothing but kind, supportive and encouraging. And I love that about him. And I love him because of that.
But through all of this, I’ve changed. And I’ve changed the game. When we met and fell in love, I just wanted to be loved. I wanted someone to want me. Someone to see past what I was on the outside and see the person I knew I was on the inside. And I found him. And he is such a strong, wonderful man. And he took care of me when I most needed him. He lifted me up when I needed to be lifted.
But now, I can see that the person hiding behind my 271-pound body is someone who needs more than to be taken care of. And she’s quite lovely, too. And she deserves so much more than a twice-a-week phone call. And she’s looking for more than that. She’s looking for someone who can stand at finish lines and cheer her on. Or, better yet, run beside her (or, more likely than not, in front of her). She’s looking for someone who wants to go hiking. And take cooking lessons. And travel. And learn healthy living habits together. And push one another to be better, faster, stronger, healthier. And teach each other. She needs someone who wants to improve himself as much as she wants to improve herself. Most importantly, she’s looking for someone who is present — emotionally and, most importantly, physically.
And, honestly, as I write this, I feel so guilty. Guilty for not appreciating what I have. Guilty for not jumping with excitement when I hear his voice on the other end of the phone. Guilty for changing so much that I don’t know if love is enough. Guilty because it’s all my fault: I changed and I changed the game and he’s perfectly wonderful and amazing and supportive and sweet and did nothing wrong. Guilty because I miss his daily presence in my life less every day. Guilty because sometimes fighting for this relationship is too exhausting. And I’m tired.
But for now, I fight. Because that’s all I know how to do. Besides, how do you not “be” with someone who you love? And who helped you to become the person you are?