On rebuilding & gratefulness. In Fifth Season-esque prose. A rare non-engineering post which I hope that at some point, if you need it, you may find some solace&companionship in this poetry. For lovers are always poets, not scientists, mathematicians, or engineers. Next time, back to regularly scheduled engineering posts.
I won’t promise to speak the truth. Or any of the truth. It’s too raw at this point to suggest rationality. (You do need to speak. To make it real. To emerge from your state of shock of the whole ending-ness of it all.) The more people that know, the more transparent it is, the more past it is. The more present I can become, slowly unwrapping myself from my cocoon of the last three weeks. I’ve scrubbed this from the original—taken out hints of him and his mistakes. (Not because he doesn’t deserve a good internet roasting, but because that is not the person you want to be.)
One of the few things we all share is love. The human condition. (You’ve been hurt by it too). This is why I have to tell you my story and my goals for rebuilding. The main goal of being grateful. (You find telling the story selfish and whiny, but honorable. That’s not a lie.) “The one that got away”. Or the one that loved less than you loved. (Which you know because they weren’t willing to stay. Or they weren’t willing to be committed.) It’s easier to love with one foot out the door, than to love unconditionally with your whole being. (You’d know better than anyone.) He made that sort of pseudo-love seem normal. Great, even.
The human condition is not a friend. Not always. The biological symptoms, the shaking and panic attacks. Having no desire to do anything with yourself all day long. Even the things you know you love. (Maybe that’s the depression that hit.) Having no thoughts all day long. No attention span. It’s withdrawal. But it connects us. The opportunity to love is entwined with the steep potential for loss. (You can call that dumont’s law.)
I spent two years in the healthiest relationship ever. (You know this isn’t true looking back, but it felt true at the time. It still continues to feel true at times.) I went from loving so fiercely, so unconditionally, so unwaveringly to trying to wake up in the mornings fist-fighting sleep, the kind bully that takes away all the pain. To losing everything that I’d worked at to make myself happy. That group of friends. His family. The relationships I’ve cultivated over the past two years. (That’s one of the hardest parts. Your having lost much more than he admits to.) These were the people I wanted to be my chosen family. Who never texted or called or said anything on my birthday the following week. Half of which never reached out but instead silently slid into the shadows. The unfollowing of my social media and the disengaging from my life without so much as a goodbye. (You know they do this out of concern or possibly out of social awkwardness. But still. It’s hard not to take personally. Not when you’ve been so emotionally destroyed; gathering coherent thoughts is impractical.)
So think of it as facts. These are the facts. They liked me as an extension of him. They liked me, in part, because he liked me. They will like the next one just as much. (You cannot grasp how unfair it is that someone can cause so much hurt and hurt and hurt and continue to be selfishly causing hurt…yet, they lose much less. You. Which they were okay with doing.)
I am grateful for the people in my life. You know who you are. You’ve been amazing. Everyone has offered to talk. Has talked. Has told me of my resilience and my individuality. (Things you didn’t ever question but are wonderful to hear.) My brother drove up to Austin to watch my cat (a lifeline, at this point). People I haven’t talked to in years have called and emailed. Tay has sent texts of just hearts and texts to check up and texts.texts.texts. She’s been amazing. (You’ve had to assure many people that you know you’re loved.) Lauren flew down to Austin to see me for a weekend that would have been tortuous otherwise. Others have offered help and advice and friendship. People have been really amazing. (You know that you have not treated others this way when they’ve been heartbroken. How could you have not understood the hurt before this?) I cannot stress enough how grateful I am. I’ve gotten their perspective and their own stories. I’ve gotten their marriage advice, divorce advice, grief advice. I am so, so, so grateful for their love.
It’s struck me as strange how millennials think love needs to be like Matt&Kim or boombox-outside-your-window or the Obamas’ public image 100% of the time. So stressless and so glamorous. We had that to a degree I thought rare. (You know he knew that too at one point but chose to be doubtful like he is with everything else in his life. Immobilized by the fear of making a mistake.) Working for a relationship is a good thing. (Working is a good thing.) Compromise is a good thing. Those were things many of the people I’ve dated have not understood. (Him more than any of the others. He’s used to having everything he wants.) Humans are selfish. I thought I’d found the most selfless person in the galaxy. Sometimes I get struck by the thought that no one will measure up to the kindness in him. (You spend minutes and hours and days then reminding yourself just how unkind he’s been to you. Until you’re angry. Until you’re spitting angry. You’re so angry you’d be happy to never see or think of him again. Thank you, anger, thank you very much.)
Then there’s the whiplash of being grateful to not have to be anchored to him. To manage him. To harmonize with his no-concessions-I-make-decisions-on-my-own attitude. (But alas, this rebuilding is not about him. It’s about you. You, not him.)
So I’ve been traveling for a week now. To find a distraction. (You know that’s a lie. It’s an escape). I hope to find fearlessness, gratefulness, and strength. (You know I lack it, though everyone is bent on telling you the opposite).
I’m going to find gratefulness. For the people who reach out to others and the hardwork that everyone else has revealed. (Of course you can’t stop yourself from thinking you wish he was the one who put in the hard work. When it counted. Anything to rid this hurt.)(You, not him. You, not him. You, not him.)
I am going to find a distraction. I will examine my wounds. I will repair my armor. Love is not a victory march.
I am going to find a distraction. To not think about him and the hurt for more than 2 minutes at a time, while being sober. To not cry at work. And to actually put good work into the projects I’m on. (You are at least grateful for your career. At least in that, you know how to succeed, how to be strong, how the future looks.) (You think of that when it feels like you’ve been beaten. All the time. You can feel it in your face. In your tear glands and your shrinking body. In your heart. In the days when you couldn’t breathe properly. You feel it even in the one minute and thirty second lengths of time when there’s a distraction from thoughts of him.) He does not have to overcome this. (That’s how you know he doesn’t love you anymore.) I do. And I’m using it as my battle cry.
I will look for what I loved about him in the amazingness of other people. I will look for him in other people’s actions and in the habits and phrases I’ve picked up from him. (You know that at times even his many faults are more desirable to you than the chance of giving anyone else an opportunity to be fault-less. That’s the worst. That has to be rid of during this rebuilding. Only people who are kind to me get to be in my life. Fact.) Then, I can look in other people for their own amazingness.
I have asked many people how I pick up the pieces and move on. I found the answer within myself. I hold onto my redhead anger. When I’m not still trying to protect him. When I’m not asking him if it’s okay to write a blog post on him. When I’m not making excuses for his actions and hiding his truths from my mother. When I’m ANGRY AND HURT AND HURT AND HURT AND HURT. I’m carrying that with me into the future. It is my anthem. It is also my surrender. (You’ve known too much hurt to ever let yourself be that vulnerable again.) (You know that’s a lie. It just feels like a truth right now.)
And no, he doesn’t get to be friends with someone he’s been so disrespectful to. He would have to change completely to regain my trust. That’s what I’m saying: he doesn’t deserve my friendship. (He may be kind and compromising and selfless with other people but he has not been that way with you. Not now, and not during your relationship. Don’t lose that knowledge. It is the car keys in your hand as you walk to your car. The exit row one seat back. It is your safety.) I rebuild by leaving him in the shadows as I reach for sky with my branches. Overtaking in Ta Phrom extravagance. He may reach too if he wishes (and he should), but it will now be parallel to your own coordinates.
There will be others. And they will be amazing in more ways than him. Just like they’ve been amazing to me throughout all of this. (You know you would have never stayed with him in the beginning if you’d been looking for a long-term relationship.) I will find someone who is better, is respectful, and most of all, recognizes a good thing when he has it. (Loves with everything he’s got, just like you do.)
I will be grateful to those people who have supported me. Who will support me. Who have supported others when they needed it. That is how I rebuild.
I still love him. I still run into him at the intersection of every memory in my head right now. I will always love him. Or hate him in that bitter-love sort of way. I have to write this so that you know. This is not a fluff story: this is an edge, an end-of-path, so that I will not go back to him. (We know you are that weak.) It gets easier everyday. Some days are more revealing than others. But each one, I am grateful for.
Love is not a victory march. It’s a cold and broken hallelujah.