It’s finally here, and I never thought I’d see the day. Or rather, days, in which my brain wasn’t filled with thoughts of you, filled with your voice critiquing every fiber of my being, filled with the echoing words of disgust and disapproval that would pour out of your mouth. It’s been awhile since those thoughts have appeared, but a drunken 4 am conversation gave them their final encore performance.
In the very beginning of 2014, really only 2 or 3 short weeks in, I decided to leave you. I decided to leave behind the past 2 years of my life. I decided to leave the chaos you constantly threw in my direction. I decided to leave coming in second place in the race for your attention. I decided to leave the fun house mirror you handcrafted for me, making my own vision of myself skewed. But from The Script, we’ve all heard that when hearts breaks, they don’t break even. And honestly, I realized I didn’t fully understand that until I was the one hurting less. Now, I don’t mean hurting less with accumulated pain, because boy you dragged me through a lot. But hurting less during the end of an “us,” and the reformation of just me and just you, separate beings no longer bound together by our fragile, broken, thread. That’s what we were- fragile and broken. You knew it. I knew it. The world knew it. We had not truly been “us” for the last 11 months of our relationship. Rather, we resembled a jammed puzzle containing pieces that no longer fit. You wouldn’t accept or respect my decision, and continued to reappear in my life.
The first few months of this year was filled with sporadic phone calls, texts, visits, and gifts. All unwanted, all unwelcomed. I grew stronger, and stopped responding. Which ultimately lead to a carefree and happy summer, which rolled into a carefree and happy fall, and you simply didn’t exist to me. What truly angered me enough to discontinue the communication was the last thing you said to me at that time in our lives, “Don’t talk to me unless you’re dying.” Not the first unkind phrase you’ve spoken to me, and certainly not the last. But, you did in fact get your wish.
Then I called.
November 20th, 2014. School shooting. Florida State University. My school. My home. Our first conversation in months, and in between my sobs and hyperventilation, you responded with calming words, in a calming tone, such a foreign thing to hear from you. That night is a blur, some parts playing in fast-forward, others slow motion. I can’t speak for everyone at FSU that night, or everyone who has ever been involved in a school shooting; I can only speak for myself in that situation. I was terrified, and the only thing on my mind was to call everyone I knew, informing them that I was okay, telling them I loved them, or just sobbing.
It doesn’t necessarily surprise me that I called you that night. That night was living in a constant panic attack for 7 hours; and panic attacks don’t equal rational thinking. In the moment, irrational Ashley didn’t realize she had just reopened a door she promised to herself months ago she would keep sealed, padlocked, and buried away. We stayed pretty distant after that week ended, and I eventually broke off from your check-up text messages. School was back in session, finals were here, and you reclaimed your throne as the last person I wanted to enter my thoughts again. A month went by and I was back to living in a world that didn’t know your name or remember the taste of your lips.
Then you called.
December 21st, 4:15 am. Due to the recent events I had gone through at school, my mind raced to the worst. What happened? Were you okay? Is your family okay? Were you hurt? I began to panic; my thoughts re-winded to December 1st, 2012, the day two amazing people that I was lucky to know were taken from us by a selfish, drunk driver. Had you gotten in a car accident? How bad was it? My mind then jumped to the shooting. Still too soon to relive, yet my brain played back the horrific movie for me. Was there a shooting at your school?
No. You had not been in an accident; there had not been a shooting either. Aside from the insane amount of alcohol you had consumed that night, there was no serious emergency in your life. In the briefest explanation: you wanted my advice about a girl you liked. She was with another guy, and you were asking me what to do. I guess you heard he didn’t treat her well, and you were upset at this. And you were asking for my advice on this situation, claiming I was all you had.
I’m still not certain what upset me more. The fact that you suddenly wanted to be a knight in shining armor for a girl you weren’t even dating, a girl you weren’t even talking to, but just a girl you liked. Because during our entire relationship, you were that other guy, you were the one destroying someone, not the protector from the dragons of the world. Or, the fact that you thought you had me, as anything in your life. You don’t have me at all. Not as a girlfriend, not as a friend, not as an acquaintance. Not as anything. I didn’t want to be anything in your life, and I didn’t want you to be anything in mine. I had been trying to remove these toxic memories of you for almost a year, but you always managed to make a surprise visit and overstay your welcome.
I considered writing something along the lines of this for Day 1 of 2015, rather than Day 365 of 2014. But then I realized that if I had done that, I wouldn’t be closing the door. I would be leaving just enough to keep it the slightest bit cracked open. And all you would need is the slightest crack to slither back into my life. This time, I’m not giving it to you.