I met Meredith once before last year during a party my (now) ex-boyfriend Charlie was throwing. Considering I was four shots in when we introduced ourselves, she didn’t leave much of an impression at the time. I heard from a couple of people after the fact– Charlie included– that she was pretty awkward and left a bad taste in everyone’s mouth. She tried to hard to fit in, they said, and she was mean and didn’t get anyone’s sarcasm.
Nevertheless, after Charlie broke up with me and I started a relationship with someone new (more specifically his roommate, Atlas), my life continued Meredith-less. I would hang out in my small group of friends that consisted of my boyfriend, his soon-to-be roommate Gavin, and a girl Gavin was close to, Ember.
Fast forward to the summer before my junior year, roommate situations are being figured out, and I get a text from Ember asking if I know anything about Meredith Leiberman. Could it be? Was she referring to the same Meredith I met at that party I’d attended the beginning of my sophomore year?
Yes, I replied. I did in fact know her. And I explained to Ember that I didn’t know much, but she seemed ok.
All of that leads up to now. Meredith is Ember’s roommate and she is absolutely, most definitely interested in my boyfriend. I’m not there to physically confirm this, of course– after all, she’s in Minnesota with my boyfriend and friends, and I’m sitting in my room writing a blog post at 4am in Boston– but Gavin and Ember tell me about how Meredith laughs at all of his jokes in a way girls do when they like boys, or how she invited him to watch movies alone in her room a couple of weeks back.
I’m not particularly upset about it. I mean, I get it. Atlas is wonderful, funny, charming, and pretty. It’s difficult to not fall in love with him. In fact, I find it quite sweet when other girls pursue my boyfriend. It gives me social capital when I date desirable guys. I get the satisfaction of knowing that, though other people want him, I’m the only one that gets him. But, I would be lying if I said seeing him with Gavin, Ember, and Meredith drinking and hanging out on Friday nights doesn’t upset me. It does just a little bit.
It very much upsets me.
I think part of it is because I don’t have friends here. I feel so lonely all the time. Not lonely in the traditional sense– I do have people I talk to, and if I really wanted to go out and drink with people I definitely know some frat boys that would gladly take me up on the offer– but lonely in the emotional sense. I have to tread carefully with the people I spend time with here as I form my new friendships. Don’t say this, don’t do that. Laugh, smile, nod, agree.
There is so much of me I want to give to Atlas but not enough of him to go around. It’s not his fault. He isn’t lonely like me.
I go to dinner with boys here. I don’t want to admit it out loud, because saying something out loud makes that much more real, but I know those boys want something from me in return. I tread carefully. No eye contact, closed body language, little depth. Laugh, smile, nod, agree. Enough to show I am not interested in giving them anything more than my time. I need these dinners, though. Without them, I would be entirely alone.
I don’t feel like I have to tread carefully with Atlas, but Atlas is over there and I’m over here and he’s having a much easier time coping with it all. I resent him for that. I wish it were just as hard for him.
I asked him a couple of days ago to explain what being apart is like for him.
“I don’t want to talk about it.”
Part of it is I feel like I don’t have a space I can just sit and miss my boyfriend. He doesn’t let me miss him the way I want to miss him. I want to cry and tell him how much I wish he could hold me. I want to hear him cry with me and tell me that he wants to hold me too. I want him to give me something to work with. Something that makes me feel less alone in my grief.
He tells me he gets it. “That’s how I felt when you flew back home to New York.” But when he says that it gets me angry. Why can’t you feel that way now, Atlas? Why do you get to be happy and I don’t?
Earlier today I had a panic attack over the phone and I heard him mutter under his breath just loud enough for me to hear but quiet enough where I knew I wasn’t supposed to, “I can’t deal with this.” I whimpered softly and hung up. He doesn’t get it, after all.
Hyperventilating, I called Gavin immediately afterwards who calmed me down. After we ended our call, Atlas and I had a short conversation about how I was doing and I didn’t hear from him again the whole night.
I did hear from Gavin though, who (at 4am) sent me a photo of Atlas’ bed. On it, a sleeping Meredith curled up next to my boyfriend. My stomach sank and I wanted to vomit. I don’t know why I felt so betrayed. I’m not threatened by Meredith, nor do I believe anything would ever happen between her and my boyfriend, but when I saw the photo I just couldn’t stop wailing.
She gets to fall asleep next to him, both happy, sleepy, and drunk. I’m sitting in my room halfway across the country sad, drained, and alone. What a luxury. If he “can’t deal” with me he doesn’t have to. He can be with our friends and forget about the anchor tied to his foot at his convenience. I feel like he wasn’t there when I needed him most today. He forgets to check up on me when I’m sad. I feel like I’m always there when he needs me. Maybe I’m not. Maybe that’s not true. But it feels true and it feels real and that why it hurts so much, but I know it means I’m not worth the effort. When his other friends have panic attacks he drops everything to calm them down. When I have a panic attack he looks for an escape.
I don’t blame him. How could I? Why should I? I won’t. I can’t. I want to. I don’t know.
All I know is I shouldn’t tell him about the photo. That I saw it. That it hurt me. That I want him to love me in a way easier for my anxiety to understand. That I want to feel things I need to feel. That I want to feel those things with him. That I feel angry and sad and anxious and that I want to run away and never talk to him again because that seems easier that him being frustrated with me because my feelings don’t make sense to him.
At the end of the day, what hurts the most is all of these unresolved feelings I have that he admitted he can’t be bothered to reconcile. Looking at that photo, validates my anxieties: laying in a bed with Meredith was easier for him than loving me. I’m not worth it.