A couple of days ago I was looking through my old journals filled with poems, quotes, and any other type of writing I felt the need to put down in there.
And when I was flipping through them I found the ones I wrote about you. Love stories. Poems about spending Sunday mornings on your couch, sitting together at the laundromat watching your clothes spin during their cycle. Even the secrets and pleasures we’d share between the sheets on your Queen-sized bed in your apartment.
But then I found the other poems. The ones about heartbreak, loss, betrayal, lies. The list could go on. It’s funny how someone can go from being the absolute best thing in your life to being someone you don’t recognize anymore. You were and still are that to me.
It’s been almost a year since you broke my heart to pieces. But I’ve slowly been picking the shards off the ground and can now say without lying that my heart is in its final stages of the healing process.
They say it’s hard when someone leaves your life, but they don’t tell you how bad it really is. And you can listen to anyone’s advice and their own stories and how they tell you everything will get better. But they can’t put an exact date to when you’ll go back to yourself. Because it’s hard. It’s so hard to keep going forward in your life when you feel at a standstill. When you feel like the rug has been pulled out from underneath you and you’re falling back without anyone there to catch you.
I don’t know why people have the power to hurt us. I don’t know how they can go from planning a future to no longer seeing one with you. I still don’t understand and I’ll never fully get my answers from you.
But I can tell you this: I know now that I’m better off without you. It may have taken me almost a year with lots of crying, lots of drinking, and lots of regrets from guys with trusting eyes and Cheshire cat smiles, but I’m finally there. And there’s so much I want to tell you about what I’ve gained and lost since you left my life. Even the bad things too. So, here it goes.
After you left, I lost a lot of sleep from staying up late at night when darkness was all I had to hold me when I was falling apart.
After you left, I lost myself. I lost my identity because, for 15 months, I only recognized myself as your other half.
After you left, I lost the desire to do anything. My bed became my best friend when I’d lay there, staring at my desk, wanting so badly to create beautiful stories, but all I could think about was how you traded me for someone else.
After you left, I lost my honesty. Lies became the main topics of my discussions and were wrapped up like shiny little bows.
After you left, I lost my self-worth. I swiped through guys like transactions sacrificed my morals all for a touch.
After you left, I lost my will to say no. I kept myself busy every hour of every day so I wouldn’t have time to think about you when really all it did was drive me to an end I couldn’t find myself coming out of.
After you left, I lost control. I spent my weekends drinking until my head was bent down into a toilet at some bar. I chained smoked and got high because nothing was killing me more than knowing you moved on so fast.
After you left, I lost everything. Or at least it felt like that for a while. I’m not going to lie to you—you broke me. Some pieces of my heart are still missing and may not come back to me. I think I foolishly still let you have some of them. Just please take care of them for me, if that’s the last thing you do for me. You owe me that much.
But my story isn’t over yet. And as winter thawed and spring blossomed, there was someone new looking back at me in the mirror. Not the one with mascara staining her cheeks, but someone who learned how to form a real smile. Because I may have lost some things to you, but there was so much I gained, too.
After you left, I gained strength. The strength to get out of bed instead of letting it suffocate me. The strength to go outside and feel the sun on my face after hiding behind the shadows.
After you left, I gained friends. Some have been here through thick and thin, some I finally took the time to look around and appreciate their presence, and some came by surprise, but I would never complain once about it. There were the who hugged me close and didn’t say anything about feeling the outline of my spine. The ones who I clinked glasses with out at bars. The ones who saw me at my absolute lowest but, unlike you, stayed. I will never be able to write enough words to express how grateful I am for every single person, old and new, who has come into my life this year. Thank you.
After you left, I gained clarity. At first, everything was too foggy to see, and I didn’t want to believe any of it was happening. But once I allowed the fog to clear, everything started to make sense. From now on, there’s only clear skies I see.
After you left, I gained forgiveness. From my mom who I treated so badly when I was with you. I felt like I had to choose, and I was stupid enough to put you first. But no one is worth losing her over.
After you left, I gained my desire to create. My words have never flown so fast on a screen before. I graduate from grad school next year, and I’ve never received so much praise for my writing in my stories, poems, and articles. Thank you for giving me the inspiration.
After you left, I gained my confidence back. The confidence to look in a mirror and feel good about what’s looking back at me. The confidence to write honestly about the things that have hurt me. The confidence to get out of my comfort zone and sing karaoke at a bar on a Wednesday night, surrounded by people who cheered me on when I sang You’re So Vain. I secretly dedicated it to you.
After you left, I gained independence. Because I realized I didn’t need to be with someone to be happy when all I needed was to learn to first do that with me.
After you left, I gained happiness. Pure happiness. The kind that makes you want to cry when you’re surrounded by friends or in the back of the car watching the sunset or in the middle of a field surrounded by people as you watch a performance. I thought I knew what happiness was when I was with you, but I didn’t know it was waiting for me all this time instead. Because when you finally learn to step out of the darkness and into daylight again, you see the world differently. I used to see the world standing behind you. But now I can see it standing tall right in front of me. It’s a breathtaking view.
You see, I’ve been through it all this past year. But there was a time when I didn’t think I’d make it to now. And it’s taken a lot out of me to come out of all this with only a few scars.
I like the person I am right now, and one day someone is going to see a future with me.
So thank you for showing me that there’s more to life than only seeing one version of it through your eyes.
Losing you was the biggest gain of them all.