The conversation had moments when it was rough and stilted. He looked at me and began to speak.
“She said that she didn’t love me anymore and then she corrected herself and said that she loved me but wasn’t in love with me.” A brief pause followed a long and sigh and then he continued.
“I know that my sense of self shouldn’t be focused so deeply on being with her, but for a long time that is who I was. Or should I say that is who we were.”
Silence filled the gap and he continued on again.
“It is easy to intellectualize what happened, how it happened, even why it happened. I know all those things. I get it, I really do. But my freaking heart feels like someone has clamped a vise around it and it aches. So what am I supposed to do. How do I reconcile it all. Do I pretend to be a man and hide my sorrow or do I just give in and let the tears flow.”
Bright blue eyes stared at me, searching for an answer. I looked at him and shrugged my shoulders and began to speak.
“I can tell you what you want to hear. I can tell you that she is hurting and confused. I can tell you that she wishes you would call her and beg for her hand. I can tell you that the biggest challenge you face is that she doesn’t know what she wants and that she is so wrapped up in it all she can’t see straight.”
And with that I received a quizzical look, “how is that telling me what I want to hear?”
I stood up and took a moment to stretch and then responded. “You just told me that you are still in love with her and that you don’t know what to do or who you are without her in your life. So I just told you that there is hope.”
I paused for a moment to take a sip of my beer and explained that I wasn’t sure that telling him what he wanted to hear was good advice or smart.
“I can’t predict the future any better than you can. If it is really done than I am not helping you by giving you a reason to hold on. So I wonder if by giving hope all I do is help to extend your pain.”
Another long pause followed this and then more silence. I chose to continue speaking.
“In my experience I cannot tell you exactly what to do. I can’t tell you what is going to make you happy or how to live. All I can really tell you is that this is one of those things that you have to muddle through. You have to find your own way. Don’t let anyone bully you into believing otherwise.”
For the first time since we began speaking he smiled.
“It took you an awful long time to say that you haven’t got a clue what I am supposed to do.”
I smiled back at him and said, “that is not what I said. Essentially you said that you are asking yourself the question of ‘who am I without her.’ My response to that is that you have to figure out the answer to that question yourself. It is something that only you can do.”
He nodded his head in agreement and we let that part of the conversation end. Men can only do “let’s share our feelings” thing for so long before it gets to be too much. Fortunately the ball game came on and provided us with an excuse to focus on something else.