Sometimes the only way out of the dark is to light the bridges we thought we needed on fire. Why go back to where we came from when we can use the light to lead us through to the exciting unknown that lies ahead of us?
Two and a half months ago the man I thought I was going to spend the rest of my life with left me. He didn’t leave me gently, he didn’t leave me amicably, he left me broken in pieces of shattered hopes and dreams, all while telling me I was selfish to want to stay with him until he drove away from the home we built together. He wanted time to leave our apartment without myself and our dog present he said, and having our four sad and depressing eyes watching him was making it harder than it needed to be. This is why he was leaving, he screamed, because I was so controlling I even had to be there when he left. I was dumbfounded; I stayed there with our dog because it would be the last moments I would probably ever get to be in the room with the man I loved more than my own heart most days, the one I didn’t want to leave. I know how short life is, and how many times I’ve been on death’s doorstep, and I don’t like to miss one second with the people I love. I stayed because I thought he wanted me to be there too, because I know how quickly life can change. But he didn’t care. He wanted me out so he could leave on his terms without me there. This was why he was leaving. Ok, I got it.
So within moments of his insistence (and boiling frustration towards me), I drove away with our nearly two year old dog, all the while watching him in my rear-view mirror as he wretched in pain. My own heart died.
I didn’t go back to that apartment until days later but when I finally did, I found he had written 5 notes and left them around the house for me; one was on the white board on our fridge saying he would love me forever; one was on our dog’s kennel and was addressed to him as if our dog could read; one was left in a closet on a sweatshirt of his neither one of us ever wore but if I didn’t I couldn’t throw it away because I was “not allowed to forget about” him; one was next to my bed telling me going to bed and waking up without me was going to be the hardest thing he’d ever done; and the last one was in a place that I don’t even want to discuss, because it eviscerated me. As I crawled from one room to another, dreading the messages I found on each of these notes, my heart contorted itself from pain to downright devastation to anger to longing. I couldn’t see straight as the tears poured from my eyes.
Are you confused? Me too.
How could someone who claimed to love me this much want to leave? How could he insist I exit the house so he could leave behind notes, knowing that meant he would spend thirty fewer minutes with myself and our dog, and not ever see us again for the rest of his life? How could he leave? I don’t have the answers. I don’t have any answers. I am more confused than I have ever been in a break-up in my entire life.
Cut to yesterday, almost three months since he left. Don’t worry, I’ll fill in the murky details of the purgatory I’ve been living on as we go along… I arrived home after a particularly brutal day at work and noticed I hadn’t changed my big desk calendar on my kitchen table to August. I picked it up and flipped the page when a note came tumbling to the floor. As I bent over I realized in horror the writing was his, and I knew as quickly as the first tear had fallen I was going to be ripped open again. Right when I was starting to heal, I found this note he had stuck in there for me to get now, in August, over two and a half months later, telling me he was proud of me for kicking as* and he knew I was, and he loves me and is always proud of me, and to kiss our dog for him. The pain that tore through my body manifested itself in a sound not dissimilar to a dying bear. It was guttural and sounded like my insides were spilling out onto the ground; it certainly felt that way.
I realize his intentions, when he left me, were not to put me through pain but were to let me know, months after he unceremoniously decided he couldn’t stay a second longer, in a note he still loved me and he missed me. I know he meant it as a kindness and because he was in fear I would have moved on or might have been trying to forget him, but I will be completely honest it felt like the one of the most selfish things anyone had ever done to me in my life. It would be one thing if he left saying he would be back after he worked on himself. It would be something completely different if he said please work on these things or we can work on ourselves and come back together. But he didn’t. He left me, he left our home, he left our family, with no intentions of ever coming back. So this reminder, this note that even just seeing his handwriting on caused a sick abyss of pain in my stomach, did nothing but bring me devastating pain. And maybe that’s my fault. Maybe it’s me who needs to do some growing and evolving here, but at the time I read it I couldn’t process anything but absolute merciless electrocutions of sorrow and longing sent in shock-waves through my body.
I tried to stand and walk myself to the bedroom but I never made it past the hallway; if someone had walked in in that moment they would have found me howling on the rainbow woven rug we bought ourselves on the last trip we took together. There I sat dissipating into the air, dissolving as every molecule of me felt like it was never going to return. Something so raw and instinctual surged through me and I didn’t care how loud the horrific sound coming from me was or who heard it; I couldn’t control the animal inside.
When I finally did find enough strength to crawl into my room I pulled myself up onto the thousand dollar bed he would never help me pay off and sobbed even harder; we had built this life together and now I was going through this death. Was he still breathing? Yes. Was I still breathing? For the most part, yes. But there was a death of all of the things promised for, hoped for, worked for, bargained and negotiated for. There dying in our bed allover again was my heart, pumping what felt like cold and ice crystal sharpened blood to my all but numb body. I had already experienced fissures of pain everywhere in me since the day he said he was leaving, through the last few days he lived with us and every single day since. Why did I need this note and this heart-wrenching devastation again? Why?
A few minutes into this hysteria our nearly two-year-old dog left the toy he was chewing on and hopped up onto the bed with me. He ever so sweetly walked over to me and curled around my head. Then he placed one paw on my face, as gently as you could possibly imagine, and he held my face as he licked the tears that fell from my eyes.
Just as I was starting to feel the breath return to my lungs, no doubt in part because my beautiful baby dog gave me his light and love, my phone dinged letting me know I had a text message. I opened my phone to find a message from my new friend, to whom I will refer to as “F.” F asked what I was doing and when I told him I was sobbing about a note from my ex he said answer your phone and he called. He told me to explain to him, so I did. His direct advice to me was walk over to wherever I kept my matches and to answer my Facetime. When I insisted I didn’t want to answer he insisted I had to, so I did. That man looked me straight in the face and told me to take that damn letter and all of the negative feelings that came raging into me, and light it all on fire. I laugh-cried at the absurdity of it all, gurgling like a small baby in the middle of a tantrum, and walked out my front door and down the flight of stairs to the yard behind my place.
Whatever he told me to do, I did. I held the note with my ex’s words and I lit that b*tch right on fire. I lit the negative feelings on fire with it (if only in my head). And then I watched it all burn away until all that was left was ash on the ground. It. Felt. So. Good. It felt good to burn away the false words. It felt good to burn away the pain. It felt good to have someone else call it like it was- bullshit- and to say to me the same. It felt good to feel like I had someone on my side telling me that this was not only not ok but it was incredibly selfish of my ex to do; no matter what his intentions were he didn’t put any thought into the pain it might cause me. He wrote that letter for him, not for me.
After I hung up the phone with F I had a moment of clarity; the only reason I met this person was because my ex left me. Here I was Facetiming with someone who cared more about me in that moment than my ex did, and I had know my ex for two years longer than the almost two years we had dated. Had he not left, I wouldn’t know F. I wouldn’t have had the laughter that came with ease. I wouldn’t have the confidence that I am in fact a good person, because F is an incredible being and he chooses to make time to spend with me, even though we’ve been very clear I am still in active recovery from my addiction to my ex and the toxicity of our relationship.
All of this happened to get me to open up and get out the residual pain hiding there in the crevices of my soul. I know this to be very true. In this moment I realized in the pain there is also joy if you are willing to feel it. I’m hurting deeply but in full gratitude for the pure love I get to have every single day from my amazing dog and family and friends, old and new. That I have these people and my dog is a testament to the actual love I deserve; loyal and unwavering.
You have to take the bad as it comes, because it will. You have to accept the pain is going to come in waves, and know at times it will be relentless. But I also know all of this is happening to clear the way for what I am about to receive, and if I can find calm and joy in the times of struggle and suffering, I am expanding my ability to feel the good even more deeply as it rides its way to me.
Find the silver lining. Find the good in the transition. And no matter what find the hope. Hope is the way up. xo, me