I’ve tried to write this story at least a dozen times, but the words wouldn’t come. I think it was because I was still in the middle of the story. You can’t write something when you know there’s no ending. Today I know there’s an ending and know what it is, for the most part. I came home with the intent of mopping floors, but I had to write. I suddenly knew exactly what to say.
• • •
Seven months ago my boyfriend woke up in my bed in the middle of the night and left. Not just for the night, but for good. The next day he returned to me all my belongings that were at his house.
Words can’t describe the shock and pain I felt. Those feelings were trumped only by the confusion. I had no idea he hadn’t been happy.
The night before, we’d had a stupid argument over a joke he made that I didn’t think was funny. I snapped at him, and later apologized for the tone I used, but told him I still didn’t think it was funny. That was the only argument we’d had in almost ten months together.
I had no idea what went wrong.
He said he was “done with us,” that “we would never work,” that he had to deal with his own “demons.” He left more of my belongings on my patio one evening.
This, after I’d given 100 percent of myself since we began dating exclusively in May. I took his kids swimming, to the park, and brought them to my house when he had school at night. We drove to Colorado together for a week over the summer. We spent a weekend at the river with his family for his birthday. Everything we did, we did together, or with the other in mind.
Then it was all gone.
Not only was I devastated, but my son lost a man he adored and respected and two bonus siblings he gelled with seamlessly.
I was lost. It was hard to get out of bed.
He wouldn’t talk to me, but drug it out via non-personal text messages for three weeks until one day I just didn’t return his message. I missed his kids’ birthdays, his daughter’s play, and the holidays.
I went through my days, taking care of my son, getting him where he needed to go. At night after he went to bed, I had a hard time functioning. I didn’t have anyone to talk to and started to hate myself for feeling this way.
At the same time this was happening, I was having tests for a medical issue I’ve had off and on for several years. Specifically, I was having a biopsy, hoping it wasn’t cancer this time. It wasn’t. But, I waited for the results alone.
Three days after I got my test results, my mom got hers — breast cancer. And not the “good” kind.
And I was alone and scared.
I vented and cried to my friends at first, but after a while, I couldn’t burden them any more. I started to write, which has always been my outlet. The posts were depressing and hateful and angry and just sad. I was miserable.
The cancer diagnosis scared me, since the kind she has is highly hereditary. I went to see my own doctor and had an emotional breakdown while telling him about my mom. He made a suggestion and, having heard it before, I went to see a therapist.
Talking helped. Just to have someone to listen to my heartache and not feeling like I burden to them. She said when my previous boyfriend cheated and lied before leaving me, I had the anger to replace the hurt. Here I had nothing. My feelings were left unresolved. I was like a widow and I had to mourn the loss.
It was the first thing that made sense in months. I couldn’t see the light at the end of the tunnel, but I was now confident it was there. I just had to get to it.
I spent the fall traveling back and forth between Bakersfield and Santa Clarita for my mom’s surgeries and doctor’s appointments. She couldn’t travel, so I brought her grandson to her. I checked my phone constantly for a text from him, hoping he’d check in on us, but there was never any message, and it broke my heart a little more each time that red bubble didn’t appear over the message app icon.
I wanted to contact him so badly, but I kept what remained of my pride and didn’t. I clenched my jaw and didn’t contact him.
My cousin Stacie came to California for Thanksgiving, and we had a quiet family Christmas at my mom and dad’s.
I thought of him every single day and still wondered what went wrong. Why couldn’t I get over this?
I had been sick a lot and the doctor finally decided to remove my tonsils. The timing was perfect, my mom was healed from her surgery, so mine was scheduled for right before she started her radiation treatments and while my son was on winter vacation from school. My mom took care of us as if I was 7-years-old again. For eight days she checked on me, cooked soft foods for me, brought me my pain medication, and took care of her grandson. I was drugged up and useless. What would I have done without her? He left me. I couldn’t stop the sadness.
Four days after we came back to Bakersfield, she started her radiation and was back to not being able to travel, so we continued to go there every chance we could.
It was a new year, but it wasn’t getting any easier to cope with the heartache.
I had a new manager at work and we jumped in to projects. It was good to be at work where I was busy. It was hard to be at home.
I went on a few dates, but my heart wasn’t in it. I told the men I was too preoccupied with my mom and they understood.
I threw myself into being mom — scouts, baseball, Condors games, friends, and school. But I was still heartbroken. I still thought about him everyday.
I didn’t tell anyone I was still miserable. After all, it had been months, I should be over him.
More scouts, more baseball, more work projects … I just went one day to the next but there was a weight on my chest I couldn’t get rid of no matter how hard I tried.
Until today. Something clicked today.
A week ago he texted me and we started talking. He told me he missed me being in his life, he said he still loved me, and he said walking away from me was a mistake he regrets making. He wanted to be friends, possibly try us again. I wanted to talk in person.
We never did talk in person. My gut wasn’t right. Call it what you will, but my woman’s intuition was trying to tell me something.
He’s seeing somebody. My God … he wanted a backup and I almost fell for it. I told him not to meet me, that he should have told me. He disagreed. He said the relationship was ending, that it wasn’t good.
I cried to my friend on the phone. She listened, consoled, and said something that flipped on the light.
“It would be very easy for me to slide back into your life. But I can’t do that right now. I need you to be totally unattached. … If you want to start a friendship with me, you need to do this for me. … I won’t be the other woman — physically or emotionally. If you want me in your life, this is something that I need. … As much as I want to run back to you, you need to give me the right circumstances to understand and heal and to choose to trust you again.”
She knew the words I couldn’t get out. I took them and ran with them, writing and rewriting. Later, when he texeted me, he apologized for not telling me about the girl he was seeing. And I replied with the words I was finally able to say in exactly the way I wanted to say them.
I think he was a little shocked, but I reaffirmed to him that I wanted him to end the relationship if it’s that bad, and then we can continue talking. If the relationship is valuable to him, he should work on it and not be spending his days texting me.
That was three days ago. I haven’t heard from him since his last “OK.”
I waited to hear my phone beep, I’ve wondered if I did the right thing. I wonder if he’s angry at the ultimatum. I wonder if he meant anything he said to me at all.
The knot in my stomach returned and I was right back where I’d been for months … lost.
Until today. Something clicked today.
Maybe it was the way a friend phrased a piece of her own blog about “being a backup,” maybe it was the message from another friend … seeing my situation through her eyes. Maybe it was that he regrets leaving me, there’s validation for me in that. Or maybe it was because I finally said all the things I needed to say to him. I told him how I still care for him. I told him how much I was hurting. I told him how angry I was. I told him how much I missed him. And I told him I wasn’t going to be the other woman in his relationship.
Something clicked today.
And today, for the first time in seven months, I feel like I can breathe again.
No matter if I ever hear from him again, no matter if we become friends, or try our relationship again, I can breathe again.
I feel full, I feel resolved. I feel beautiful, I feel smart, I feel strong, I feel happy, I feel whole … all things I don’t think I’ve fully experienced for the past seven months.
I feel like me again. Something finally clicked.
• • •
I can’t express enough gratitude to all my friends who have offered advice, laughter, and shoulders as I’ve struggled through this. Dana, Christi, Tyler, Jaime, Steve, Kim, Christine, Jared, Mike, Cindy, Chris, Marcella, Nandie, Katie, Angela, Derek, Joy, Christina … thank you all for your words of support and encouragement here and on Facebook and in personal texts, emails, and phone calls. All your words combined together and clicked today. I hope I’m not forgetting anyone, but I probably am. I’m just so excited to be able to write this right now.
And to my family who has put up with me, I love you always. Thank you.