subject line: to the one I loved and lost

To the one I loved and lost,

Everyone always said this, and it was true: I would have given her the world if she would have let me. And it took her a while, but she finally did. The tragic thing is, she was my world. And I’m afraid that I gave her herself, and she no longer needs me. I’m afraid that all of my love and attempts to mend her from her past worked. And now she is healed and moving on from me without a thought, thank you, or good bye; and more painfully, without a second chance.

She stole my heart, and my existence, and so many little pieces of me, so evident by who she has become, and who I was. But now, she is using all of those pieces of me that she so gracefully stole, to win other people, and be happy without me. Maybe she never really loved me, only pieces of me.
It’s a wonderful thing to see someone grow so much because of you. But it’s torturing to watch them grow so much that they grow out of your grasp, uprooting the only bit of solid ground they had, when they had nothing else. That hurts. That makes me want to hurt myself because, well, everyone always does. It feels like that has become my purpose: to be an emotional punching bag for everyone. Everyone wants someone like me until they have me.

Don’t get me wrong, our love was not just about me fixing her. She fixed me too. As better as I made her, she made me so much better. And I knew it. But looking back, I know it even more. She taught me so much: about everything. She taught me how to be a friend. She taught me how to laugh. She taught me how to love. She taught me how to date. And how to care. And how to be kind even when I didn’t want to. And how to smile when I didn’t feel like smiling. And how to conquer my fears; even the fear of being enough by myself. She taught me how to love myself, and embrace myself, and to let the world see who I am. She helped me believe the truth about myself: that I can change the world. And maybe not everyone, maybe not all at once. Maybe I’ll change the world one friend at a time. Maybe I’ll only change those who are close to me or those I’ve newly met. But I can change the world one joke, one jab, one snarky comment, one insightful thought, one beaming smile, one convicting laugh, one word, one picture, and one moment at a time. She helped me love myself, and gave me the courage to let the world love me too. And for that, I am eternally grateful.

She taught me about so much more beyond myself. She taught me about, wow, everything, at a time when I thought I already knew it. Movies, books, music, TV shows. Life, death, tragedy, and joy. The majestic mountains, pristine lakes, and restless big cities. She exposed me to the realness of life. She showed me the good in the bad and the bad in the good. She inspired my dreams, helping me to lift off into the looming infinity of the future, but kept me grounded when I got out of control. She taught me how to feel alive at a time when I didn’t even know if I wanted to feel that. And in all the hours we spent in school together, I learned more from her than I did any teacher.

She gave me a reason to stay, when my tires whirled along the roads to anywhere. When I wanted to run away and never come back, I thought of her, and stayed. She gave me a reason to come home upon the rare occasion I was able to escape the monotony of my everyday life. She gave me a reason to want to go to school, or target, or anywhere she was; because if she was there, it was a better place than wherever I was.

She even gave me a reason to watch soccer. I’ve never been interested, or, frankly, cared for soccer, but she loved it. Watching it helped me learn it. Learning it helped me learn more about her. The more I learned about her, the more I loved. The more I loved, the more I fell. The more I fell, the harder it was to hold me up. And the harder it was to hold me up, she just couldn’t.

It makes me sad that we grew so much together, that we ended up growing apart. At the time, we needed each other. She swore against saying this, but what can she do now: we saved each other. And maybe we didn’t save each other from death or sickness or any number of horrible things that come to mind when you think someone has been saved from something. Maybe we just saved each other from being alone in a lonely world. Maybe we saved each other from ourselves at a time when we were confused or afraid or even hated ourselves. We may have still even had these feelings about ourselves this whole time, but at least together, we weren’t alone.

But maybe being alone isn’t that bad; I guess it’s time to find out. Everyone always tells you how important it is to have someone else to need and love you, but they leave out how important it is to need and love yourself. Maybe love’s whole purpose is to mend us so we can be strong enough to be by ourselves.

We are alone now, but, thanks to each other, at least we have ourselves. Yes, we have family and friends and class mates and teachers, so I guess technically we aren’t alone. But we are alone in the sense that we no longer have that person who loves us because they choose to; because they want to. We don’t have someone who will always choose us first, and will drop anything, anytime to be with us. We don’t have someone who makes our fragile, insignificant, powerless self feel invincible against the world’s worse. We don’t have someone who loves us as if we were the only thing they ever had or will love. We don’t have someone who makes us feel like the stars hang in the cold night sky, shining for us, or the wind rustles the still leaves for us, or the waters roar, carving more scars in the already scared landscape for us. We don’t have that. Maybe I’m just speaking for myself.

Now I’m left haunted by regrets that I don’t even know should exist. What went wrong? Maybe I did something wrong, maybe she did. Maybe it was her parents, maybe it was mine. Maybe it was our friends, maybe it was our enemies. Maybe it was just life’s cruel, thieving devices.

Wow, I loved her. I still do, but in a reminiscing way. I love her like I love my first house. I know I’ll never get it back, and even if I did it would never be the same. But how I love all of the memories that I wish I would have loved more. I love her like I love our first prom together; the night our love truly unfurled for all- even ourselves- to see. I love that night, but it is in the past. But what I wouldn’t give to go back and live it again; to tell her how much I truly loved her in that morning’s fleeting hours, as fleeting as our young love. I love her like the many hours we spent together, each better than the last. Each minute sweeter than the one before. I love those minutes, even though they are gone and I will never get them back. That is how I love her: knowing I will never have her again.

I’ve tried to talk to her about it; trying desperately to rekindle the fire of our love, but to no avail. Now when I talk, she only interrupts. She used to never interrupt. She let me talk and talk and talk and talk. Maybe I talked too much and she stopped listening or caring, or maybe she learned how to ignore me. Or maybe she listened so much that she absorbed every ounce of every word of every thought I said- and how and why I said it-, and she found her own voice and how and why. She doesn’t need to listen to me anymore because now she can talk back.
I guess I was just always trying to fix her, and help her be strong and her own, because I thought foolishly that being her own meant being mine.
I loved her so much, and everyone knew it. And we were perfect, as imperfect as we were. I was always hopelessly enamored by her. Her dorky walk. Her loud laugh. Her whiny voice. Her feigned self-loathing. Her chubby cheeks. Her glistening golden hair. Her smooth skin. And her luscious lips. I was enthralled by her fear of being loved and admired because she was so lovable and admirable, and I wanted to be the one to love and admire her.
When we first fell in love, it happened much quicker for me. But she fell slowly, day by day, in the solemn halls of our school. In a place that had sucked the life out of her for fifteen years, I was something new and alive and captivating. And maybe she never loved me, but she just loved feeling alive again in a place that had become almost a morgue to her. But if she loved me, I am convinced that each laugh I gave her helped her fall more and more. She thought I was funny when no one else did. She laughed when no one else did. She made me feel alive and cared for and invincible when no one else did. We fell so hard for each other that we forgot to look down and see what would catch us. And the only thing we had to catch us was each other, but how could we catch each other if we were both falling?

My heart is breaking, missing us and all we were and could have been. I am hurting, knowing that I am now alone in a lonely world. The one who stole my heart, and everything, has left with it. I feel empty, shattered, helpless, and not enough. But this is where I summon the truths about myself that she taught me, and love myself, and support myself, and be enough for myself. But for now, I am broken. My pain is seeping from my soul, through my heart, into my veins, down my fingertips, into this pen and onto these pages, now defiled by the pain she has left me in. I am now getting to the point where, once, like my love for her, I have no words remaining that would justify the pain I have been left in.

But oh, my love, little by little, leisurely, agonizingly, and not quickly enough, I will fall out of love with you. And in just the same way, I will fall deeply in love with myself. And, maybe, one day, in just the same way, I will fall in love with someone else.
This story became my life when I needed one the most. And unless galaxies collide, the sun is extinguished, the stars fall out of the abyss, and our love returns, our story is over. By oh, my love, what a great story it was. And I have no words to thank you for giving me the chance, and courage to live, and write this perfectly imperfect story.

Yours truly- for a little while more,