November 20, 2016

Thank You For Leaving Me

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Brooke Cagle
Brooke Cagle

I lost most of my 20s on you, doing what I tell my girlfriends and students not to do on the daily…wait for a guy that never loved you to begin with. However, I don’t regret it because in the end it led me to who I was to become and eventually, who I was supposed to meet.

Our relationship wasn’t very long at all, somewhere under a year. I was fresh out of college and headed to graduate school, thinking the entire art world lay at my feet. My life had changed so much that year. I lost one of my best friends to cancer, I finally broke up with my high school and into college sweetheart and I was about to embark on an entirely new life.

And then, I met you.

The man who was only four years older than me, but unlike guys my own age, you shared my love of reading and art and music. Our conversations would last for hours and completely monopolized my days. They were real conversations too, not just ones that are impersonally parsed out via text messages. It wouldn’t take long for me to fall in love with you and fall in love in ways I never knew that I could. You would become the first person I ever truly loved.

Just as quickly as it would happen, it also ended. To say I was devastated was an understatement. I also felt so betrayed, both by you and the girl who I thought I could call my best friend at the time. It would take me many years before I could trust someone that intimately again. I didn’t go to graduate school that year, I took off for New York City instead, crashed on couches and lived in awful apartments. I worked terribly paying jobs, but I was surrounded by my city.

Eventually though, I would come back home to New Jersey, knowing that I needed to finish school. I would decide to become a teacher and after about three years of missing you, I decided it was time to start dating again even though I knew I wasn’t ready. For the next two years there would be a parade of bad dates and semi-committed relationships, mostly with people I didn’t even like. Inwardly I was still waiting. I was waiting for you not to be a jerk, to reach out to me and say it had all been a mistake. That you trusted the wrong person and that you still loved me. However, you never came and the truth of it is, neither did I. In love, there is no room for being proud and sometimes when I think back to you and that time of my life, I wonder if we each hadn’t been so proud, what may have happened. In the end though, we weren’t met to be, so even if we had reconciled, it never would have lasted because if we had been meant for one another, we would have chosen each other from the beginning.

Three years ago, I stopped dating and had focused on my own life and dreams. I finished my masters and began a doctorate. I even teach college now. Three years ago, I also randomly met the love of my life who unlike guys my own age is so wonderfully funny and creative. He loves to write just like me and he sings me stupid songs about how much he loves me. He also protects me and will go to bat for me even if I’m wrong. He’ll give me the last bite of his cheesecake, the last bit of wine and even the first shower in the morning because he knows how much I like those things. I know he loves me in ways that I never knew I could be loved because he always picks me before himself and the really wonderful thing about us? I do the same for him in the foot massages at the end of the day even though I am just as tired too, and how I always have to but melted peanut butter on his pistachio ice cream and make sure on Tuesdays, when we both work really late, that I walk the dogs so that when he gets home, he can go right to bed.

Thank you for this.

Thank you for breaking my heart and sending me on a journey that led me to him and for in doing what you did, you taught me what I really wanted out of the love that would last me for rest of my life. For so long, you were the story of the one who got away, but now as I have begun my thirties, I realize that you had to get away so I would find the one that was meant to stay with me always.

I hope that you too find that kind of love one day because it is really one of the most beautiful parts of our crazy existence. TC mark

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