A year ago today I became single.
I felt like I was dying.
That’s because I WAS dying: the old me had begun to deteriorate. The end of the relationship didn’t hurt as much as my personal undoing. Every part of me unraveled. Beneath all of those layers I discovered wounds I had forgotten about. The heartache I was experiencing was actually a life-long ache, exposed.
You didn’t break my heart. My heart had suffered many injuries long before you entered my life. If you’re feeling guilty or worried that you ‘broke’ me in any way, shape, or form, you can release that weight today.
Today, exactly one year later, I say ‘thank you’ for being the catalyst of my undoing. For looking me in my eyes whenever we talked, and whenever we made love, and for avoiding my gaze the last day I saw you. I had stormed out of your place, feeling upset and hurt. You ran after me to hand me my flip flops. It wasn’t to console me or talk me off the ledge. It was to give me my flip flops. You handed them to my daughter. You didn’t want me to leave anything behind.
I think I knew then that I wouldn’t be going back to your place, or to you. I took everything with me, all of my belongings and my entire heart, as broken as it was, as it had always been. Thank you. Thank you for everything: for crying in my arms one day as you professed your love for me, and walking away the next.
The day after the last time I saw you, I received a response to an email I sent you. When I think back on what I wrote, I am somewhat ashamed. I am embarrassed realizing that I was begging you to give me what I needed. I was begging for what I deserved. The woman I am today would never beg or plead for love. Never. But I did. I pleaded with you for reassurance. And you responded with, “I know in my heart I can’t be the man you deserve.”
I felt betrayed.
It was as though we were on a road trip heading to a place I’d been longing to see all of my life, and somewhere along the way you stopped the car. I felt like you kicked me out of the car. Maybe because it was breaking down, or because you didn’t trust yourself behind the wheel. Whatever it was, the one thing you didn’t do was actually lean on me. We were never ‘us.’ It was you, and it was me, but never ‘we.’ You never leaned on me. And yet I carried the weight of your struggles anyway. I would have pushed the car with you. But instead you stopped the car. And I felt betrayed.
I failed to see that the end of our journey together did not mean I would never reach my destination. It didn’t mean I would never get there. I was stranded, but not dead. I was not dead. Yes, parts of me were dying, but I was not dead. I was very much alive (the pain in my chest was proof). And so I put one foot in front of the other, walking aimlessly, but trudging along, because I was alive and my legs were weak but there was enough strength in them to keep moving. So that’s what I did. I kept moving. And here I am, one year later. I am reborn and more alive than ever.
Those defects I claimed to see in you were all a reflection of what I needed to heal within myself. Your confusion mirrored my own confusion about my worthiness. Your fear mirrored the fears I’d been gripping so tightly; my hands too preoccupied with them to open up and receive something new. Something real. You running away mirrored my own cowardice. How many times had I abandoned myself?
When I began writing this, I had no idea I had this much to say. I intended to write a short Facebook post about being single for one year, and how it hasn’t been as bad as I thought it would be. I had no idea that this is what would come to the surface. But I’m smiling as I type this. I’ve been smiling the whole time, because I’m okay. You didn’t hurt me. The hurt parts of me were attracted to you. You grated your emotional unavailability against old wounds and tore their scabs away. I bled out; I had to let the poison of my past all the way out. The hurt parts of me loved you. The wounded parts of me thought you were the one. The healed me knows better.