How I left you begins with how you left me. I still pretend I didn’t see it coming. One particularly normal 9:00 AM morning standing in the bathroom and applying my mascara while you were showering. One swift motion of grabbing your keys. One average parting of our ways, me off to class and you off to your long day. One conversation that we’d had one too many times before. And with one slamming of the door, with one line that contradicted itself, over and over, “We’ve been through so much, so why don’t we just give up.”
And that’s the whole story.
Give up!? I thought. Give up? Give up a love, nine years on and off? Give up on a love that carried me through my rough, angsty adolescent times, a love that wrapped me in its arms through every trial in my life? Give up on a love that existed, in my mind, with so much hope, so much faith, I feared the world would dissolve in my hands without more of it. More of it. More of it.
There was no more of it. We were a car stalled out as it sped down the highway. We were an elevator ride with no one inside of it. A broken record that we’d heard replaying all the time, snapped and set aside. But we loved to listen to it, anyway. It became the anthem of our lives− and we could barely decide anymore whether we were coming or going or staying awhile.
Until you did. Around 9:30 AM that morning, with a snarl of insults spit into my face, miserable, too much, unsatisfiable, I began to believe I was someone worth giving up on. Your words became my mantras, your terrifying face of anger the look of my nightmares. My living nightmare. My day in, day out, please-let-me-wake-up-now nightmare.
I went to sleep many nights and when I woke up, you weren’t there. I’d walk outside in the light and see not a single color. It became a world designed in black and white. It was a place I’d visit briefly some nights, but now I’d reside. Like a tunnel with no end, a kite without flight. And always in my mind, over and over and over, I’m someone worth giving up on.
How I left you begins with a leap of faith. A different kind this time. Not the faith I had in us, not the faith that I kept tucked away in my pocket and held on to, steadfast, with the suffocating grip of a snake around the neck of its mice. How I left you begins with how I loosened the hold slowly. How I let go. How I found me.
How I left you begins with how I realized I was not someone unworthy. My love, I know, is daunting. My love, I know, is wild as the Moonflowers that bloom in private in the nighttime, vast as the coming and going of the tides. It sits down and faces life with watery eyes. My love strives to grow; it makes lists of its accomplishments and its insecurities and it keeps rewriting them. It reads books and can’t wait to learn something new every day of its life. My love makes sure it doesn’t go to sleep angry and always stops to kiss before the slamming of a door or a final goodbye.
I thought to myself, days after our concluding fight, that we were more bound in that last moment than we had been in months, maybe in all our years together. Finally, you decided what I could never decide. You left that morning because wanting to leave is enough when you wake up too many days in a row to a sinking feeling in your gut. Wanting to leave is enough when you just keep taking the hourglass and flipping it right-side-down and down-side-up.
You realized, I realized, we realized it was finally time to throw it all aside. How I left you begins with lying in a bed to your right for two hours, five days later, without so much as a “hi” because there was nothing left to say now. And we couldn’t even make anything up. It begins with many nights where we’d hold each other so close, thinking closing the space between us would hide everything that had happened. It begins with becoming strangers with someone while simultaneously knowing every hour of their weekly schedule and what their mom calls them when they reach into the pots of beans on the counter without getting a bowl out. It begins with forgetting all the details of their smiles and their eyelids, and remembering what you forgot before all that became more important than what you deserved for your own life.
When you told me I was all those things that morning, I knew you were lying. Because my love is worthy and my love is mine. How I left you begins with recognizing that that truth was all that made the whole mess meaningful. The lesson was never about you and it was never about us. My love is mine. My love is mine. My love is mine, I told myself. It’s not yours anymore, I thought. It hadn’t been yours for awhile.
How I left you begins with a small smile. How I left you begins with a satisfying sigh. How I left you begins with the first day of the rest of my life.