And sometimes life breaks your heart.
I read the text and time stopped.
My eardrums shattered from the sound of my heart beating desperately out of my chest. This can’t be real. This cannot be real.
My mind flashed back to the blissful moment when we met for the first time, rendering you speechless as you attempted to ask my name. We began slipping into a love that seemed so real; neither of us prepared. I loved you because you were funny, chivalrous, and you loved to spoil me. I loved you because you smiled affectionately at my flaws and always made me feel as though I was more than enough. In a world that objectifies and belittles women, to my love, I was more than enough.
You taught me how to snowboard after teaching yourself. We loved to try new things together and spend time; no matter what, if we were together, we were having fun; we were content. I never got sick of being with you, which is unheard of. I get sick of everyone. Being with you was just as good as being alone… and even better because you make me laugh. When we lived in Oregon and the rainy weather would send me into hibernation, I would skip class, sleeping all day. You would then come to my apartment, pull my blinds open and organize my room (because you know clutter stresses me out), and then finally you would drag me out of bed (sometimes literally) and tell me we were going on a walk. You loved to surprise me with dates and gifts. Not only did you take pride in the gift but you took pride in the wrapping too – you were so decoratively inclined! You had the homemaker skills I didn’t want to have – like ironing. I would send my clothes home with you and you would bring them back crisp and ready for whatever occasion was approaching. We were best friends and our relationship never felt like work. It only took 6 weeks after moving in together for me to realize something was not right. Maybe I had been ignoring the red flags, or maybe I was busy with work and school. Either way, it all came crashing down, but the reason was unclear. I figured it was drugs, but I really had no idea. All I knew was that you were mean to me now; you had become someone I didn’t know and I was not going to be that girl who was dumb enough to think she could save you.
A year went by and I moved along on the outside. I finished school, moved away, started a new job, and even had another relationship. I never stopped wondering what really happened to us, to you.
One night I had a dream I was looking out of a living room window (from a house I’ve never been in) and I saw you drive by. Our eyes met and locked until you were out of sight. My heart dropped as I realized you were there and now you are gone. Then from behind the shrubs I see you had turned around and come back for me. You parked your truck and came walking up towards the door. I was so excited to see you! You were smiling from ear to ear, just as thrilled to see me. A sweet reunion.
Then I woke up.
I woke up so bummed that it was only a dream. I was so frustrated that I still was even THINKING of you! Why can’t I be over it already? After all you put me through, how can I still miss you?
Then, later that day, at a friends house watching football and boom – your name pops up on my phone – facebook message! My dream was a premonition and now you were reaching out to me, explaining what had happened a year prior. I gave you my new phone number, hearing your voice, I cried in disbelief. You explained that you had gotten involved in drugs and it took you a while but you chose to get help and you were now clean and sober. So it wasn’t all in my head. The clarity was so refreshing. Finally I could put the pieces together and it made some sense.
You came to visit me, I went to visit you, and eventually we moved in together. We picked up where we left off. Snowboarding. Exploring new music. Watching Pixar movies and every episode of Dr. Phil on youtube. We went on adventures and took lots of walks. We were so happy. I was sure that this was it. I had my best friend back. You were happy too. So happy that I was sure nothing could tear us apart.
Then I read the text message. You handed me the phone and tried to grab it back before I could finish reading: “Come on man, I don’t wanna be sick” was all I needed to see.
What do you mean you don’t wanna be sick?! And who is this person I’ve never heard of before?
My heart sank. I knew in this moment what this meant. I wept. I wept as I mourned the end our journey together as partners. I wept for you. I wept for your family. And selfishly, I wept for myself. The man I loved and would never put in harms way had repeatedly chosen drugs over our relationship. Yes, addiction is an ugly, powerful force, but there were moments in which you were sober, and more than once, you made the choice to participate in some mind-altering activity instead of being sober. For us. For you. For me. I knew that I could never trust you again. I had been suspicious for a month now and you had an answer for every red flag I had asked about. I felt like a crazy person – but I wasn’t crazy. I was right! You were using again. We lived together, spent all of our time together, and we were HAPPY. And yet you still went back. Anger. Sorrow. Emptiness. I hyperventilated and you tried to assure me, “I can fix this!” It was too late. I knew that I could not live this life. Constantly wondering if every sign was a sign of betrayal. I didn’t want to be the paranoid girlfriend. I didn’t want to drug test you. I wanted to trust you. I could not build a life with someone who is willing to throw it away for a high. I was studying for the LSAT while you wasted away money, time, energy, and your beautiful outgoing spirit on something that was killing you slowly.
My heart was not just broken; but deflated, lifeless. This was the lowest moment of my life and I was shattered.
You tried to quit on your own, but the grip on you was too strong to overcome alone.
I am proud of you for choosing to get help a second time. As we got in the car to make the 90 minute drive to the airport, we quoted Dr. Phil “Today’s gonna be a changing day in your life!” laughing, to keep from crying. We picked up my mom (who was in town for a visit) from her hotel and made the trip to the airport. We both hugged you and she told you she was proud of you. I held it together until getting back in the car where we both broke down watching you walk away, hearts aching.
My mom and I spent the remainder of her vacation together, and she soon returned home. Our apartment had never felt so empty. I had never cried so much. Sometimes I cried until I was sure my eyes would fall out of my head. Sometimes I couldn’t cry, and I just slept. There were days I didn’t get out of bed, and I would think back to you pulling the blinds and dragging me outside.
This time I had my answers and this time it would be up to me to seek healthy closure and move on.
This was the beginning of a journey that I would not take back, even considering the immense pain that was involved. I never wanted our relationship to end. But sometimes life breaks our hearts and how we respond is what makes us who we are.
I soon began to love myself as if I were enough. The way I knew you loved me. Your battle with drugs had nothing to do with me, and I know this. I know you loved me more than you will ever be able to show me. And I hope you know that I loved you that much, too. I am most grateful for our time spent together, the beautiful memories I will always treasure. Many people who meet me see my positive outlook and sunshine smile and would assume I have never had hard times. I choose to live my life celebrating the good in spite of sadness.
And I will fondly remember our young, out of control love, for the joy it brought to both of us. This journey brought me further along on the path of empowerment. We have our souls in common and I am at peace knowing that we loved each other the best we could for the time we shared. We are now able to close a chapter and begin anew as you champion sobriety and I a new life in L.A.; we both champion for self-love. We are better able to love ourselves independently because of how we loved each other while we were together, and that is something to be truly grateful for.