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.
Flashing back, my mind took me to the blissful moment we met; the moment that rendered you speechless as you tried 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 fearlessly spoiled me; I loved you because you smiled affectionately at my flaws and always made me feel that 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 spending time together. No matter what, if we were together, we were happy; 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 rain clouds sent me into hibernation, I would skip class, sleeping the day away. Coming to my apartment, you’d pull the chord to my blinds and organize my room (because you know how clutter stresses me out). Dragging me out of bed (sometimes literally) you’d insist we go on a walk outside. 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’re so decoratively inclined! You have 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.
Life was beautiful and we had each other. But then things changed. 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 my 60-hour-weeks of school and work had me distracted. Either way, it all came crashing down, but the reason was unclear. I guessed 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 dreamt I was looking out a living room window (from a house I’ve never been in.) Our eyes met, locked on one another as you drove by in your truck… soon you were out of sight. My heart dropped as I realized you were right there and now you are gone. Then, from behind the shrubs I see you walking back towards me. 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. Just as soon as I felt the ache in my heart, I became livid that I still was even THINKING of you! Why can’t I just be over it already? After all you put me through, how can I still miss you?! Annoying.
Later that day, I went to a friend’s house to watch the football game, and out of nowhere – a FB message comes through from YOUR NAME! My dream the night before was not just cruelly reminding me of my loss, but a premonition! And now here you are reaching out, 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 flew up to visit me, I flew 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 countless adventures and took plenty 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 willingly handed me your phone, immediately wanting to grab it back before I could finish reading:
“Come on man, I don’t wanna be sick”
That 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 to a depth I knew not existed. What I did know in this very moment was exactly what this meant.
Weeping overtook my being. 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. Suspicions had been rising for a month now and you had an answer for every red flag I had asked about. You allowed me to feel 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 (and would 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 Law School Admission Test 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 crushed. Deflated. Lifeless. This was the lowest moment of my life thus far, and I was shattered.
You tried to quit on your own, but the grip on you was too strong to overcome alone.
Your choice to get help a second time makes me so proud. 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. Picking my mom up from her hotel, (who was in town for a visit) we made the long trip to the airport. She and I hugged you, mom telling you how proud she is of you. I held it together until back in the car where she and I both broke down watching you walk away, our hearts bleeding for you.
Spending the remainder of her vacation together, I remember being numb. She soon returned home. The apartment you and I shared was haunted with memories we made together; neither the apartment nor my heart had ever felt so empty. I had never cried so much in my life. Sometimes I cried until I was sure my eyes would fall out of my head. Sometimes I couldn’t cry, and I just succumbed to sleep. There were days I didn’t get out of bed; my mind taking me back to you pulling the blinds, dragging me outside.
But 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 even with the pain. This journey carried me further along 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. Now we close a chapter and begin anew as you champion sobriety and I a new life in L.A.; both learning to champion self-love. We are better able to love ourselves independently because of how deeply we loved each other while together, and this is something to be truly grateful for.