I see the words across my screen.
They flash at me, pulsate, and weasel their way from the screen of my computer and inside of me where they keep rapping at my brain. They keep whispering in the space between logic and irrationality, keeping me awake until 1 AM, 2 AM, 3. No matter what I do, no matter how many pillows I pile over my face, no matter how many times I repeat, “That isn’t your life anymore”, those words won’t stay quiet.
They dance around in my head, play ring-around-the-rosy using me as the center, singing over and over until the buzzwords are repeating nonstop. I cover my ears, play my favorite song as loud as I can through dirty earbuds, but they just won’t stop. And suddenly it’s not just 3 AM, but instead I’m watching the sun rise over the Sound and I’m praying to a God I’m not sure exists that you are too.
See, I know we aren’t in each other’s lives anymore. I know we’re not so much exes and “former lovers” as we are strangers with memories. I know that I couldn’t even order coffee for you anymore because I’ve long forgotten how you take it. In the rational part of my mind I know that I hold no claim to your heart or your soul or even your life at this point.
But I can’t help it.
See, I see these words like “laced” and “addiction” and I’m suddenly thrown back to a world of hazy Saturday nights on couches where I didn’t belong, hoping that whatever was in that bottle was just water and not something else. I’m taken back to a world of black outs, of strangers coming and going, of talking nostalgically and almost poetically about substances like they were your best friends. I’m taken back to a world of not knowing where you were and hoping it wasn’t in a ditch somewhere. To a world with ER pictures from driving when you shouldn’t have and hearing stories that made me have panic attacks.
It takes me back to a world of uncertainty and a world where we joked about you not making it to 35. And now, that’s not really a punchline I can laugh at.
And the thing is? I know it’s none of my business anymore. I know it’s not my place. I get that. If there is a cut off time for caring, give me the expectation, show me the date. But what is the statute of limitations on loving someone? What is the statute of limitations on caring about their well being?
I loved you, and a part of me always will.
And it took someone I know even less, someone who I was even less connected to other than our mutual friends and some photos on Facebook dying to make me realize that.
I didn’t fully understand trigger warnings until now.
But now I know what my trigger is.
It’s the thought of me having to exist for one second on this planet without knowing that you’re out there somewhere too.