“I get it. You’re tough now. I get it,” he snapped as he abruptly sat up.

I was moving that day and had asked him to collect the last few of his belongings that I had been stowing away in my closet for the previous six months. I was behind schedule in the packing I needed to complete and I was anxious for him to take his things and his leave. I craved the space in my room and the ability to return to my increasingly frantic and haphazard filling of boxes. He seemed unaware of this.

This was the first time he had been in my room in two months. He strode into my bedroom with the confidence of someone who had spent a great deal of time there. He seemed clueless to the nature of his visit and immediately lay down on my bed, which was at the time only a mattress on the floor. Although my furniture was taken apart and leaning against the wall and there were boxes strewn around the room, all varying in the amount they were filled, he appeared disinterested in my move. The only time he addressed it was when he double checked that I was moving only to a neighboring town and not out of the country.

So there we were: he, lying stretched out on my mattress, looking as comfortable as if it were his own bed. I was sitting up, a full arm’s length away from his body, his chest heaving gently in his contentedness. My shoulders remained tense and eventually our staccato small talk redirected to the nature of our relationship.

“Maybe it’s partly my fault,” I told him, “maybe this is all part of a learned behavior. I loved you deeply. I clung to you. And because of that I allowed you to behave horribly without consequence. So maybe this would’ve been okay then. But it’s not okay now.”

“You’re tough now. I get it,” he spat.  I held his gaze steadily but I did not respond. “I’ll just get what I came for then.”

He stood suddenly and forcefully as he grabbed his backpack. Two fast steps brought him to my doorway, where he paused, only half-facing me, waiting for my protest. Eventually, he spoke. Eventually, he left.

So, I guess I’m tough now. And try as I might, I cannot find the reason for such disdain. I imagine life is easier when there’s someone there for you relentlessly who craves your attention and does not set boundaries. What a lovely luxury that must be, even if you find reason to lie to your friends about it. But I got a bit bored of being someone’s secret and the knowledge that it is just one more thing keeping me stuck in the quicksand of Western Mass. So, I’ve let go of a lot. I weathered a lot. I found a lot. And now I guess I’m tough.

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