The past few months without you have been the best and worst days of my adult life. I made the mistake of making our relationship my identity, and by losing it, I lost myself. I had no idea who I was without you, but I’m discovering her now, and she’s amazing. The journey to get to this point has not been easy, though. I lied to everyone for months after you left. I was terrified of finally letting you go. And if I told my family, it all would have become a part of my reality, I couldn’t go back, and part of me still wanted to stay in the dream I created to survive.
I knew I needed to finally tell my family about you, but this time everything. I had been living a second life for the past eight years protecting you, us. I never wanted to burden others with the weight of my pain, not even my own family. You always made me feel like my emotions were a nuisance. I didn’t feel safe with you, my supposed “other half,” so how could I feel safe with anyone else? I didn’t want people to know I needed help, I didn’t want to look weak. You made me feel like I was weak. You denied me the strength I so desperately begged from you, and I couldn’t find my own, so I relied on you for everything but truly got nothing from you.
The night before my plane ride home, I felt an overwhelming amount of anxiety. My anxiety used to irritate you, remember? You never supported me when I needed you most. You never educated yourself on my mental health conditions; instead, you belittled me for them. And I exhausted myself trying to fix them for you, trying to be perfect for you. I had so many other struggles I was going through alone, but I worried most about losing you. I loved you. We had built a life together regardless of that life’s semantics and significant letdown. I worked for it, I put my everything into creating something you only ever benefited from. Why couldn’t you do the same?
On the morning of my flight, I requested an Uber and gave them a heads up that I had Nala with me, but they said they couldn’t take me if I had her. Remember Nala? She was our baby. The puppy I planned on raising our kids around. I know she misses you. Do you miss her, at least?
I requested another Uber and called to confirm that my puppy would be okay with this driver, and they said, yes. We started chatting about his dog, and eventually, he brought up his ex-boyfriend. I then brought up you. It felt safe telling a stranger who didn’t know you. I didn’t feel like I had to water down the truth to protect you. He, too, was once in an abusive relationship. He said life really began for him after he decided to chose himself first. I felt so excited about the idea of finally getting to where he seemed to be: happy without you. You have been breaking me down for years. I can’t remember the last time I was truly happy with you. God switched my Uber. He reminded me life gets better just by meeting this man, that happiness exists without you.
Mom picked me up from the airport. We had an entire hour drive home to her new place. She sold our childhood home—the place you picked me up from on our first date. The home you would visit me in when I was naive and thought the distance was our biggest problem. The place we would laugh and celebrate holidays together in. The place I cried myself to sleep in countless nights because of you. The place you and I had so many memories in is now gone, and so are you.
I continued with the lies when she asked me simple questions about you and about us. I wasn’t ready, I wanted to feel safe at home first. Between you and me, I needed to hold you just a little while longer. I couldn’t say goodbye to you just yet. She gave me a tour of her new place. I was genuinely excited, but I couldn’t focus. All I could think about was you. Faking it the past few months while I was alone was easy. I could force a laugh through the phone, then hang up and cry to myself. Now I had nowhere to hide. We sat at the dinner table, snacking on chips and salsa. My heart was trying to rip out of my chest, the knot in my throat was unbearable, and I could feel the surge of tears ready to burst. I felt the same feelings when I would have to bury my emotions for your comfort, my body remembered, but I pushed forward. Mom could see I was crying and asked what was wrong. I started hysterically crying, and I started telling her everything and couldn’t stop once I did. Like word vomit, every detail came out of my mouth. I didn’t want to tell her everything, I didn’t want her to hate you. I still wanted to protect you. I needed her to understand this.
She was angry with you, understandably. You hurt me so deep for so long. Just like I wanted to defend you, she wanted to shield me. I needed her to be patient with me, though. I still care about you. I still worry about your health. I still wonder, “Is he eating, right? Is he stressed about money? Is he happy without me?” These thoughts were interrupted by her asking me,
“Are you happy?”
Why had I not been asking myself that question over the last eight years? My happiness had become secondary to yours for so long. My mental health was deteriorating because I cared more about you. My friends and family seemed to know that I wasn’t happy for a while. I guess I wasn’t so good at hiding it like I thought. You were good at hiding everything.
Parisia flew out to me in the middle of a pandemic. She was there for me during what would have been our anniversary. That day used to mean so much to me, now it’s just like any other day. And I honestly doubt you would have done something like that for me if, by some chance, we were physically apart, and I needed you. But I remembered you never wanted to be my friend, we didn’t have that relationship according to you.
I’m back in what used to be our home. Julia lives here now. It would have been the three of us, like old times. That was when I was the happiest, when it was me, you, and her. That can’t happen now, she’s mad at you, but I know it’s because she’s sad. You were like her older brother, but you’ve let her down.
Mom checks on me every day since I’ve been back, we are processing you together. You knew her very well, you can imagine the things she has said about you. But I’ve told her I’m not quite ready to be angry with you, I’m still grieving you, bargaining your return. I’m stuck in denial and depression. She’s accepting of that and acknowledges my need to take this healing slowly. I need to experience every stage of losing you to the full extent. I rushed our love, and it imploded on me. I can’t handle making that same mistake.
I should have come to them sooner. I should have told my family about you years ago. I should have trusted them with accepting my healing. Maybe this wouldn’t have been so traumatic. God planned this for me, I can assure myself of that. I have so many people on my team, but you were never on it.
The one who gave her all.