I think about us longer than I should, conducting a deep analysis of everything that happened and dissecting each event into pieces, wondering if I should have changed, if you should have been different, if we even should have happened.
The first cycle is the worst. A memory of you sneaks into my mind late at night or in the morning like a gentle reminder of a grocery item I forgot and later remembered when I wasn’t even close to the store. It’s unwelcomed. It suffocates my morning to-do list or an evening with friends over one too many margaritas through its ability to warp my mind into recalling all of the good qualities of you that put on a show for me during the first few months of our relationship. The first time you said you loved me, the first time I met your family, the first time you met mine — all of the firsts ramble into a slideshow ripping through my happiest of days, convincing me to believe that everything that was good about us is still there. It’s not.
The first stage involves me wondering why. Why did I let you go? Why did I let a good thing go? Why didn’t I work harder? Why didn’t I try harder? All of the questions I have asked myself for years surface exactly when I was certain you were gone forever. We were beautiful, those early days, young and carefree and reckless and wild, how it felt to be young and in love. I stop whatever I’m doing, pause to think that maybe, just maybe, we weren’t as bad as it seemed. It was just bad timing.
The second stage is easier than the first. It’s easy to hate you. It’s easier to hate someone than to love them. I ask my friends to remind me about you, and even they refuse to talk about you, groaning about how depressed I was when we were together. I was wrongly convinced that that was how it felt to be in love. It was just how it felt to be in love with you. I scribble hate poems and novel ideas about being in love with the wrong person and being manipulated into believing that love is giving away everything you wanted in life so someone else can be happy.
Yet when I sit down to write about all of the ways you made a good person turn ugly, I can’t write. The page is blank, the words don’t type themselves, and I can’t balance the good and the ugle sides of you into something respectable that doesn’t hurt me as well. Because the truth is, the ugly side of every relationship hides itself away until we are most vulnerable. So I wait for the vulnerability. I wait for the nights when I’m drinking with friends and the memories flood into each sip and I go home early to write.
That worked for the first few months, but now, now there are only a few things I remember when I miss you the most.
When I miss you the most, I don’t journey through cycles anymore. I only remember who I was versus who I am now. If I hadn’t gone through the repetitive cycle for years, would I be as confident as I am now? Would I be who I always wanted to be? Would I be happy, would I be loving, would I be caring? When I miss you the most, I remember that without you, I wouldn’t be who I am now. It’s entirely disgusting and too romantic to reflect back on us as if being a masochist is a career path everyone should dabble in. But I dipped my toes into the dark sides of life, that life partially with you, to be reminded that it never would have been possible to be where I am now without having slipped into the deepest waters, drowning, until I learned how to breathe. And when I miss you the most, I shut the pages that I begin to write about us. There are too many other moments in life that are meant to be explored and right now, we aren’t one of them because I’m still recovering.