They didn’t leave you because they didn’t love you. They left because when they were fourteen they had their best friend come to them with a heart that never healed. At fourteen they held a human being, trembling and broken in their paper arms, and they feared the day they would mourn a last goodbye, a last embrace. They left because they saw how a cold flame could create a house fire in the hollow bones of someone who gave every inch of themselves and still came up short.
No, they didn’t leave you because they didn’t love you. They left because when they were seventeen they finally noticed the distance between their parents at the dinner table. At seventeen they had to tell their younger brother, sister, that sometimes things get tough, that sometimes mistakes hang heavy in a ribcage and it causes people to run away. They left because at a tender age they were taught that “I love you” doesn’t always mean, ‘I’ll stay.”
They didn’t leave you because they didn’t love you. They left because at twenty-one they read an article about a dating app that mentioned how 42% of its users already had partners. At twenty-one they read that plan b’s and second options were always on the forefront, always in the back pocket of someone who was holding the hand of a man, a woman, who slept soundly beside them at night. They left because they convinced themselves that there would always be another, someone better suited, someone better looking, someone more successful; it would only ever be a matter of time.
See, they didn’t leave you because they didn’t love you. They left because at twenty-five they watched their grandfather empty out the oceans within him at the grave of his high school sweetheart. At twenty-five they watched how he slowly deteriorated, how loss crept into his heart like a bleak December frost; how the doctor said that her demise killed him before old age ever had the chance. They left because they finally understood, how cruel it truly was to love something that death could touch.
Trust me when I say, they didn’t leave you because they didn’t love you. They left you because they never learned that they could be better than their past. They left you because they couldn’t convince themselves that they wouldn’t turn into their parents, that they wouldn’t wake up one day and want to flee. They left you because they never saw devotion win, they never saw passion triumph.
No, they didn’t leave you because they didn’t love you.
They left you because they didn’t love themselves
enough to believe
that they could be different.