When you’re strapped for cash and living in a city that isn’t keen on breaking leases, breakups quickly go from difficult to supremely awkward. I briefly considered waiting until our lease was up to end things, but I couldn’t handle another four months, two weeks, three days, 16 hours and 22 minutes of pretending (not that I was counting). So, in the worst idea in the history of decision-making, we went from soulmates to roommates.
For the first few weeks, we continued sleeping in the same bed. This was a bad call, I know. I tried my best to stay on my side of the Queen-sized bed, but my sub-conscious loves to cuddle and I couldn’t control it while I was busy catching zzzs. I went to sleep in full on nun fashion, sporting head-to-toe clothing, but it didn’t prevent the occasional midnight urge to play. I thought of it as a “roommates with benefits” situation, but it made any sign of boundaries blurry AF. Why is “no sex with an ex” so hard to remember? It literally rhymes.
It was too easy to fall back into old habits. We told ourselves that we were cooking dinner together to save money, but it didn’t take a therapist to see that we were hanging onto the comfort of our relationship. The occasional “hey, babe” slipped out but it didn’t feel wrong. Was it possible to have our cake and eat it too?
We considered trying it again. We spent countless nights discussing the possibility of getting back together. There were a few that we cried over a bottle of wine, mourning the best parts of our relationship and looking back at photos. If this isn’t the definition of masochism, I don’t know what is. Since neither of us cheated or harbored any bad feelings, it became confusing as to why we were hell-bent on calling it quits.
If I didn’t come home at night, I had to answer to him. The prime rebound moment had arrived and as I was playfully making out with Mr. Right-for-Right-Now at 2 a.m, I received a text from my ex asking, “Are you not coming home tonight?” I had no obligation to answer him; in fact, I was super annoyed that he ruined the moment. Still, I felt the guilt weighing on me anyway.
The first night that he didn’t come home, I freaked out. It was a Sunday night and I was heading into a rough week of work, so I was at home for the evening. I must have dozed off on the couch somewhere between the ninth and tenth episode of Grey’s Anatomy because I woke up two hours later than I was supposed to for work in the morning. On a freaking Monday. I frantically changed and raced out the door and it wasn’t until I reached my office that I realized he wasn’t home when I woke up. I was so angry that my palms were sweating and I felt a little nauseous. Was he not going to tell me? I somehow made it through the worst Monday ever and when I got home, he couldn’t look me in the eye. “Well, I hope she was worth it,” I said as I slammed the door in his face.
Our fights reached toxic levels. Once we knew that we were dating other people, it was like the apocalypse had arrived. I yelled at him for banging the kitchen cabinets when he came home late and he yelled at me for leaving a micro-drip running in the shower after using it. Our once cordial co-habitation had turned into the seventh circle of hell. We fought over pizza toppings and who had TV privileges. We were no longer sleeping in the same bed for obvious reasons, so the apartment looked as though a tornado had torn through it with our clothes thrown everywhere. Things were bad on an epic level.
It was like walking on eggshells. On bad days, when we weren’t speaking, we had to somehow be invisible. New York City apartments are a little on the cozy side, so there was no escaping the occasional run-in. I slept at my best friend’s place as often as possible, but even though she’d never admit it, I was such an imposition on her and her boyfriend. We were both exhausted and decided to do what we should have months ago: found a sublet to live out the lease.
We were just postponing the healing process. Living under the same roof didn’t make the recovery any easier. In fact, it made it so much harder. We were like addicts in rehab who were sneaking shots in the middle of the night. There wasn’t a clean break because it’s impossible to remove all remnants of feelings when you’re face-to-face each day. If we hadn’t stayed under the same roof, there may have been a possibility of a friendship. The possibility of that happening now? Zero.
We saved a ton of money but it came at a hefty cost. Even though we were no longer in a relationship, we still cared about each other. Our breakup had created this open wound, but rather than care for it, we left it open to fester. It was seriously unhealthy and, looking back, there were so many better solutions to the issue with the lease. Just as the warning before any episode of Jackass suggests: Don’t try this at home.
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