Thought Catalog

How It Feels To Be Just A Footnote In Someone Else’s Love Story

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Timothy Paul Smith

I’ve never been one to wear my heart on my sleeve. When you grow up with a single parent, your view of a happily ever after is a little bit tainted. I know that not everyone is lucky enough to spend the rest of their lives with the person they love. I know that not everyone – even the ones you love – will think you’re magic. And no matter how badly you want them to stay, they will always leave. So I kept my walls up – always cautious of not caring too much, of not giving too much of myself to people. I was afraid of being happy, of getting too comfortable, because nothing could be worse than having that happiness ripped away from you. So I stood with my back against the wall, watching the people around me take chances carelessly from a distance.

I know I should’ve kept my back against that wall but when I met him, I threw all caution out the window. I fell in love in a dark room at midnight when he told me why he left his family and chose to live alone in a foreign country. I fell in love when he looked me in the eye one fateful night and promised not to hurt me because he knew that someone like me, broken and insecure, needed love the most. I fell in love when he whispered I love you in my ear in the middle of the night, thinking that I was asleep. I fell in love – fast, scary, and exhilarating.

He knew where my scars were – when everyone was too blind to even notice. He didn’t heal me, but he saw past my walls, and at that moment, being seen was enough. Like a moth to a flame, I flew closer and closer.

I clung to him when he made me happy. I clung to him when he broke me down. I clung to him when he made my blood boil. I clung to him no matter how many times he left and returned. I clung to him tirelessly, as if my life depended on it.

But he is not mine to cling to. He held my heart in the palm of his hand, but his own heart was somewhere else.

The signs were always there, but I guess I was blinded by love. I ignored how he said your name instead of mine, how he compared my choices to yours, how devastated he was when you left, and how he held me for support. I ignored the signs, because surely, this kind of love was bigger than either of our pasts, right?

You see, hope is a dangerous thing. It can keep you hanging, holding on to dreams, ideas, people, when what you really need to do is let go.

I was filled with hope. Hope for us. Hope that he loved me enough to let you go. And it was precisely when I was at my most hopeful that he let me go.

People lose every time. Relationships, jobs, bets on basketball games. I am not inclined to think that life owes me anything. I know that I would have more losses than wins, more rejections than acceptances. But this particular loss hit me hard. And it’s not because I didn’t see it coming. I did, I just never knew how much it would hurt me.

And it hurt. Every single atom in my body. Every single day.

There are days when even getting up from bed is a burden. There are days when a locked bathroom where I can cry quietly is the only refuge. There are countless days when I am reminded that his words, his kisses, his touch, were empty. That none of the moments I held on to were real. That this story – this great, epic love story, is not mine, but yours.

Losing the person you love is painful – to part ways with the person you’ve loved for years, to wake up and not feel the comfort of his embrace. It’s painful to be lied to, to be betrayed, to give chances over and over, just to be let down in the end. It’s painful to face life alone, after so many years of spending it with your person, the person you believed to be your soulmate. But you know what’s more painful? To never have these moments to let go of in the first place. To have everything you believe in broken down right in front of your very eyes. To come to realize that the love you believed in so much, the love that has consumed you for years, wasn’t even yours to begin with. Being a footnote to someone else’s love story – that’s what’s painful. TC mark

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