Dismissed Connections (Essay)

Words by Rae Witte. Illustration by Danijela Keko-Aranilla.

“What’s so funny?”

It’s like something your father would say when walking in from work in a horrid mood, immediately sucking the joy out of any moment.

“I’m waiting for you to tell me why I’m ‘v funny.'”

It’s hard to believe there could be a language barrier between two competent, English-speaking people but we clearly proved otherwise. We could speak endlessly sitting in the same room. It was always conversations where you lose all sense of time, blowing off texts from everyone you know. It wasn’t lust. We could keep our hands off each other (if we had to), but eye contact with him made me legitimately question if blinking was worth it.

The disconnect; it could’ve been the champagne and him hanging out with his notoriously self-loathing friends while he was in Paris during fashion week. It could’ve been the eggshells we walked on through text messages, in between FaceTiming from different time zones. I had a new job, landed a personal essay in print, and had found I would be featured as one of New York City’s most eligible bachelorettes. I tweeted “I need to chill” because it was fitting to what I was feeling at the time. But, returning to a phone with significantly more Twitter updates than normal did not decrease the levels of chill. When I texted him “you’re v funny” for being one of the many who re-tweeted, I was not prepared for the catastrophic fallout about to ensue. It’s not like we hadn’t ever cracked jokes or re-tweeted each other only to text one another immediately after.

Despite an apology, this was it. (I’m one of those women that apologizes a lot.) This was the turn. My inability to be easily impressed, my propensity to clap back, my dedication to my own life, and my track record of being the person that spills their guts had officially put him over the edge.

You ever have someone that you feel physical pain when you miss them and such excitement when you’re around them that it leaves you exhausted?

“I’m mad at myself for letting another person into my life who puts pressure on me…Pressure over tweets, pressure at the club, pressure over text.”

I didn’t understand. It’d been a month since we’d last seen each other and honestly, I’m not a huge text-er. It doesn’t take much more than a response, emoji red hearts, and replying when you say you will, to keep me happy. But still, he didn’t let me into his life.

I thought we had talked through the “pressure at the club,” but there had been a new development. His friend told him I was “stroking his face” one night, to try to get him to leave. Despite willfully getting in way over my head with him (premature discussions on a serious relationship, babies, schedules for the next couple months, and marriage jokes from day one), he did not read me as well as I read him. He also couldn’t remember the night in question because when I showed up to meet him, he was so inebriated he couldn’t put a coherent phrase together. I grabbed his face. I grabbed his face to see if the man that reassured me his visa was good for more than two years that same morning was present. He wasn’t, so I walked out, leaving behind a fury of texts demanding him to take back every sober word he had said to me prior. (That same morning, before discussing the status of his visa, he insisted on choosing baby names before he deeply confided in me–the type of things that make you worry about a man no one worries about.)

As the texts rolled in that day, and FaceTime attempts were ignored, I wished he had never sucked me in with baby names and such. He continued to tell me it was this he could no longer do.

“What is this? Say it’s me. Tell me I mean nothing to you. That’s why you can’t do this. Tell me it’s me.”

He sent every textbook response you’d expect from someone without a spine, dead opposite of everything he vehemently, personally stood for: “It’s whatever,” “Nothing matters,” and “I don’t care about myself. How can I care about you?”

I wouldn’t give him what he wanted. I refused to fight with him or let him know it hurt me. “You warned me you were bi-polar. You let me in. I’ll be the causality of your downswing, but I won’t sit here and tell you I don’t care. I won’t sit here and tell you it’s whatever. I don’t care if I never hear from you again because you know, I kept it 100. You said you were thankful you met me and I was meant to be in your life. You’ll lose sleep over this. I considered never speaking to you again because that’s how I operate. I cut out everything that makes me feel too much. You wanna push me away to protect me from you. This is on you. It’ll be on you.”

Although he continued to respond to my button pressing, he wouldn’t give me what I wanted. He wouldn’t diminish what we had by playing me, let alone blame me. He wouldn’t look me in the eyes and end it. His last text before he blocked my phone number was, “Let me kill myself in your world.”

Oddly enough, later that week I learned two things. One, you can fall off the Internet if you want to. Tweets that don’t hit the timeline don’t get over-analyzed.

I also learned that it’s impossible to prepare yourself for when a person who’s “dead” in your world gets out of an Uber next to you, when you didn’t even know they were in your city. There he was. I was sick.

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