Lyndon was like a drug that I had become addicted to. All the signs were there: the sublime satisfaction of having him, followed by bouts of regret, followed by self-promises of reform, and followed by unsurprising relapses. A vicious cycle that saw no immediate ending. I won't deny that it was the sex, oh yes it was the sex alright. But aside from the sex I wanted more; I was looking for the security of a relationship, of living together and having someone to depend on again. Could Lyndon give that to me? Would he?
It wasn't even the weekend yet but I couldn't resist seeing him when he said that he was free for the night, my early work the next day be damned. That was one of the signs of an addiction, disrupting the ebb and flow of daily life in favor of a quick fix. So why don't I just say it and get it out of the way: Hi I'm Earl, and I'm a Lyndon addict.
There we were, sweaty and naked in bed after our usual tour of the apartment. The room was dark but the blinds were open, and though there was only a half-moon, the city itself had enough brightness to dimly light the room. I hadn't gotten my breath back yet and neither did he. As I lay there with him, I couldn't help but wonder how I had come to arrive at that moment with him. A year ago I was happy and content with my relationship, relishing in the quiet and calm of marital bliss, and yet here I was now, single and anxious, satisfying myself with a spare change of affection that Lyndon doled out.
While my head was busy with such wayward thoughts, Lyndon sat himself up and looked at me.
“I have to go,” he said.
“Aren't you spending the night?” I asked.
“I only wanted to see you for the last time.”
He left the bed and started gathering his clothes and then dressing up.
“I met someone and it's getting serious.”
He couldn't even look at me as he dressed.
“What's wrong with us?”
“You're not someone I can be serious with.”
I wanted to ask why but I had a sneaking suspicion that I won't like the answer. I asked anyway.
“You're great, but you make me feel like you only like the sex.”
“But I do like you.”
“I can still be your friend.”
“Yeah. Friends. I look forward to it,” I said sarcastically.
“Anyway I have to go. I told him I was meeting you to end things.”
And end you did, I thought.
After work the next day, I asked Dan if we could meet up at our usual place. Shangri-La Mall was convenient for him because the FX to Antipolo was a walk away. No matter what day or time we went, the Starbucks there was always packed with people. We managed to get a seat inside and after the usual ceremony of waiting for our drinks and getting them, I told him what happened the night before.
“Good riddance,” he said.
“But the sex!” I said.
“You can't live by sex alone. There's nothing between his ears. You'll get bored eventually.”
“There's something. Not a lot. But it's something.”
“I'm not here to tell you what you want to hear. None of us will.”
“But it was so humiliating. The nerve of him to say I was only in it for the sex.”
“At least he's more self-aware than you are.”
“What's that supposed to mean?”
“I get it, you're lonely, and this is the quickest way to forget that you are, but it has to end eventually. It's been how many months and you're still not handling your break up very well.”
“I think I'm handling it just fine.”
“Okay fine. I'm not. So what am I supposed to do?”
“Don't you think you need to give relationships a rest first?”
“How would that help me?”
“It will give you time to work on yourself first. You need to grieve. You need to get your confidence back. You need to start living life by yourself first. You can't just jump from one relationship to the next. You have to give yourself space to breathe.”
“I don't want to feel alone.”
“It's the first step in the process to heal. You have to learn to love yourself again. And you're never going to be alone, you have us.”
“But how about those times when I'm all by myself?”
“That's why you have to rediscover yourself. Find out what you like to enjoy doing and do that. You can't depend on other people for your happiness. Be happy with just yourself.”
“I'm not sure about this.”
“Trust me, you're better off doing this now rather than later.”
Later that night, I got to thinking about relationships, especially the ones we have with ourselves. Dan only had good advices to offer, but it was one thing to listen to them and another thing to follow them. Was he right to say that I should be taking time off from relationships for now? I realized that I was so afraid to be by myself that I kept going into compromising situations just to avoid it. What was I so afraid of? Could it be that I didn't want to find myself alone because I wasn't ready to see if I liked the self I would find? I had been in a relationship for so long that I didn't know what kind of person I am. So maybe Dan was right. I had to give relationships a rest for now and focus on myself. I had to get to know myself again, discover the joy in being alone. That way, when it's time to fall in love again, he would love me as much I love myself. And won't that be wonderful?