You have no idea what you did to me. Nor do I think you would care. Because you found me at a time when my heart was cracked open and instead of trying to heal it, you used this as an opportunity to rip me further apart.
I didn’t see what you were doing at first. In fact, I thought you were rebuilding my self-worth after another man had spent years breaking me down. You said everything that my ears had been begging to hear. You talked about how talented of a writer I was. You told me I was smart, beautiful, and inspiring. You told me how you loved that I worked hard and was kind to everyone who crossed my path. You also looked at me with a gaze I’d never seen before, a look that when it was returned, it expressed the purest form of love. At least, it did for me.
But I guess it never did for you. Not really. Because once you knew I was yours, those compliments slowly turned into criticisms. At first, you’d say offhanded remarks about how my hair was messy or that I only looked hot in certain outfits. But that progressed to attacking my character. I never was enough for you. You didn’t respect the way I handled that situation. But what really bothered me was when you started to attack the passion you had previously encouraged me to pursue. Are you really sure you want to write, you would ask?
Your words affected me. On a very deep level. They sunk underneath my skin and made me question who I was becoming.
Perhaps I did need to spend more time doing my hair. Maybe I should go buy some better outfits. I guess that friend doesn’t need to be such a big part of my life. You know, being a screenwriter is a crazy dream anyway. The phone call at work wasn’t as important as responding to your most recent text. My friends didn’t need to see me since that so egregiously cut into our time together. You slowly became everything to me, my number one priority. The problem was you broke up with me because you said that I never made you that in my life. Well here is the hard cold truth: I was ready to build our life together, to be all in, to give you everything. I’d never experienced a love like this before. We were soulmates right?
I was ready to make sacrifices for someone who loved me as much as you supposedly did. But you weren’t ready. Because you broke up with me, stating I was doing everything that I later found out you were. You were the one hooking up with “friends.” You were the one who wasn’t prioritizing me. You were the one who was on Tinder and Bumble and stalking girls at the places you worked. And I almost gave up everything for you.
When you threw me away like a piece of trash, I was left emotionally bankrupt.
The next few months were next to impossible. I couldn’t get out of bed. When I did, it was because I couldn’t keep laying there obsessing about how you could have never loved me as much as you said you did. The days were long. The hours were rough. I’d sporadically burst out crying at work. The thoughts that ran through my brain were What could I have possibly done wrong? What should I have done differently? This couldn’t be real. You couldn’t have never loved me.
These thoughts and obsessions affected my life. I started to make mistakes at work, missing out on a nearly guaranteed promotion. I struggled in a field that I once dominated because I could hardly hold back tears when talking to clients. Writing was torture. I sat down, lost track of what I was doing after five minutes, and started stalking your Facebook page, seeing how much fun you were having with all the people in your life who truly “mattered.” I stopped writing. The lack of sleep and lack of appetite furthered my inability to function properly throughout the day.
My poor family. They tried so hard to talk to me but I couldn’t face them. My friends stopped answering my calls. They got tired of hearing me melt down on the phone about how much I hated you.
What do you do when being home is torture and being out is hell?
Part of me considered looking for a painless way to end it all. I’m glad I never gave you that satisfaction of ending my life over you. Because you would never have been worth that. By some power greater than me, I did the opposite. Who knew that my inability to sit still and that my recently developed insomniac tendencies would lead to the biggest breakthrough in my life? One especially restless night, I decided that I couldn’t keep living this way. I rolled out of bed at 3:30 am and went to a 4 am bootcamp class at the gym that I’d attended while we were together. I was nervous, as I was going to be the most out of shape of everyone in the class. I mean, all those late nights at Del Taco, the only date place you could afford, had taken a real toll on my health. But I wasn’t. I was surrounded by people with a positive energy who were there for the same reason I was. We were from all different walks of life, experiencing all different trials and tribulations, but for that hour – we were there for one thing and one thing only – bust out the best workout of our lives to overcome obstacles and be our best selves.
That first day while I was literally begging to breathe as I ran a measly mile, I discovered something miraculous. That ten-minute lap took such a toll on my body that it was the first time in the past four weeks that I hadn’t thought of you. I started to make this a routine. The relief that washed through me when my clock ticked to 3:30 am was more than I could have hoped for. And soon it wasn’t just the ten-minute runs that quieted my mind – it was the entire hour-long class. A whole hour of peace. I was so grateful. The times not spent at the gym there were still difficult. But I found the days I went to the gym I was more productive at work than the days I didn’t. I could even have a few conversations with my distanced friends that didn’t involve talking about you.
As my muscles got stronger, so did my spirit. Working out was doing for me that I had never let it done before – in addition to healing my body, it was healing my soul. I started falling asleep early. And I would sleep. My diet improved because I needed the nutrition to keep up with the workouts. My clothes began to fall gracefully over my fitter frame.
I started to gain some self-confidence that had no relation to the empty words you spoke.
Writing was still difficult. But I would get home from the gym around 5 am, inspired, clear headed and with two hours to kill before work. This time would have normally been reserved for stalking your Facebook, but I felt myself repulsed by your page. I couldn’t afford to see all those girls, how happy you looked now that I was gone. So I decided to journal. A mentor had suggested this. A mentor who I reached out to after you left, because I needed to know how he had continued to write after he got his heartbroken. He had suggested three pages a day. I was skeptical at first, but shocked at how, like the gym, this gave me relief.
At first I didn’t know what to talk about other than how angry I was at you. I was ashamed that that’s all I could talk about. But my mentor said this was my time to talk about anything. So I did. Day after day, three pages on how much you hurt me. Then there was a day when talking about you turned into talking about an idea I had for a screenplay. I got so excited about this idea I actually started writing my thoughts out past three pages.
The return of my creativity nearly brought me to tears. Happy tears. It also contributed to my new found self-worth.
I could have confidence in my ability without you. Work was probably the last piece to fall into place. But remember how I told you I found comfort in Excel spreadsheets? I got pretty good at them. People across the company started asking me to pull reports for them. I began to develop relationships with our analytics team and our IT team, as well as the survey vendor where this data was being pulled from. I had developed a completely new skill that has now earned me a seat at a National Conference in Orlando, as well as interviews for database management positions at companies such as Netflix. My confidence began to improve, and my new skill set, coupled with my new wardrobe, truly made my boss question who this confident woman was that showed up to work each day.
My friends took notice as well. They began to answer my calls again, knowing that I wouldn’t make those conversations all about me. I started asking what was going on in their lives. Turns out they had real life issues and I could be there to support them. Helping others also became a beautiful way to stop thinking about you and about me and about us. I began to invite them to concerts and festivals. I found a new love of music that I had never known was hiding inside me.
I began to truly fall in love with living, something I don’t think I had ever experienced even before you.
I think this was because my head became quieter than it had ever been before. My thoughts stopped racing, stopped obsessing. You know that feeling you get when you’ve held your breath a moment too long and then clean air filters through your lungs? All you focus on is that you now have air when you previously didn’t? That’s what it felt like. I was breathing in a new life. A different life. A life I had never dreamed of. I suddenly saw our time on earth for what it was: meaningful. Not just because I have a fantastic job, amazing coworkers, relationships, and a passion that will one day turn into a career, but because over the past three months, I was forced to develop self-worth that did not originate from a man.
I have developed a self-confidence built entirely upon actions I’ve taken, not words that anyone has spoken. I have the confidence today that as a child I could only admire in others. You have made me ready for my life, and if it is in the cards, my actual soul mate. I used to think you destroyed me. Now I see that you created me. All I have left to say to you – is thank you.