That sick feeling you get in your stomach when you realize he doesn't love you any more.
The way your heart sinks when you say too much, more than you ever meant to say, and you see his face fall with disappointment as he understands now that you are not everything that you wanted him to think that you are.
Your inability to accept the fact that we are all lost, none of us has a place here. Everyone just wants to go home, but nobody knows where home is.
It got to a point where I just felt like a broken person. He looked at me once and said, after a lot of thought, "I feel like I have destroyed you. You are not the same person any more." And it was true, both of those things were true.
If you must know, so that this makes more sense to you, I was pregnant, and I decided not to have the baby. It was a decision that did not come easily, as I wanted it so much, but something was changing; I didn't even know what it was, but something just felt... different. Off.
When I did it, I was completely alone. He dropped me off and drove away. There was a protester outside with signs pasted to the side of her van, horrible, graphic pictures to remind me what a disgusting person I was. She knew what I was doing and she pointed at me and glared. I could feel her hatred for me all the way through my body, all the way to my bones.
Inside the building I cried quietly and looked through my hair at the young girls around me. One was with her boyfriend and they read a magazine together. One was wearing her high school sweatshirt and sat with her mother. There were four girls, but I was the only one who was crying. I kept thinking, this is not me, I do not belong here. This is not what I wanted for myself.
It was over that day, our relationship. It's a difficult thing to go through and we both felt alone... him because he felt that he didn't have a say in it, and me because... well, because I was literally alone. But it's where I was, and I had put myself there, supported, loved or not, I was just... there.
He didn't ever ask any questions; he just never loved me again. I was sick with regret and confusion. I prayed every day, begging God to forgive me, pleading with Him to allow me to forgive myself. It was silly and ironic, and the relief never came.
The air at home was thick with resentment. As our situation worsened, I just hoped harder. I hoped I would wake up one day and it would just be better. Maybe he would want to stroke my hair again, or hold my pinky and smile with his eyes. Maybe I wouldn't have to sleep on the couch again. Maybe my nightmares about what I had done would go away. Maybe he would talk to me again.
On Easter I was so lonely that after he went to bed, I went into his room and asked if he would hug me.
He thought for a moment and said, "I suppose that would be ok."
I wrote notes to him every day and left them on the counter. Just little hello notes, have a good day, I hope you slept well. Every day they sat untouched on that counter. I saved them all for some reason. I started putting them on top of the refrigerator, in the very back. The stack grew and grew until it wasn't a stack any more, it was a pile. A big, dusty, unappreciated pile of words that fell on deaf ears, blind eyes. Every time I put a new note on top of that pile I wanted to scream, just scream and scream, I AM STILL IN HERE. YOU WENT AWAY BUT I AM STILL HERE. That pile became proof, after awhile, proof that we had gone far past driving to the end of the road. We'd passed the paved section, covered the gravel, blew through the dead end... we were careening off a cliff in a car that just wanted to explode.
What are you thinking about? I don't know.
Are you ok? I don't know.
Do you still love me? I don't know.
It made me crazy. I was someone else. As the indifference and silence increased, my behavior worsened. I acted out like a naughty child. I was a shell, a husk. I was nobody, and I didn't want to be anybody any more.
It's a strange thing, loving someone who does not love you back. A dear friend of mine once said that when a relationship ends, it feels like someone actually died. That total loss, that complete severance of what was there, it's all just gone one day.
I stopped sleeping, I couldn't eat. My anxiety skyrocketed. I started seeing a psychotherapist, a D.O., and a sleep specialist. Nobody could help me, and I just got worse and worse. I started counting things. Everything. Tiles on the ceiling, stairs, letters. And I just kept waiting and waiting, like a damned fool, every day. The same thing, the same nothing.
I don't know why it hurt so much when he broke up with me; we had been finished for months. I couldn't possibly have felt like less of a person. I cried all day and all night. I don't know what I was even missing... I lamented a loss that was so old that the fact that it even surprised me at all was the only truly odd thing about the breakup. I pictured his face, stern, studying, as he stood over me with his arms crossed while I tried to pack my belongings. I tried to remember the last time he didn't look at me like that, and I couldn't.
He sent an email to me that read like a journal entry. It made me feel absolutely terrible, like a twisted demon incapable of loving, of receiving love. A terrible, controlling mother. A shadow. I hated him for that email. After reading it over and over, I finally realized that he is ridiculously rotten at communicating, that he had wasted an entire YEAR of my life, just sitting in silence, leaving me to guess, panicking alone. The last time I read it, this post-mortem diary, I deleted it. It felt fantastic; I felt like I was deleting him. So I kept going... I just deleted and deleted and erased and erased. Every click felt better. Each time I pressed down on that button I felt like I was putting myself back together a little bit more.
As I cleared our life away, I became angry. I wanted my TIME back, but since that was something that could never be restored, I just kept removing all of those threads of meaningless words. It was a good start. Next, I faced the decision I had made. Right or wrong was not up for debate; I just accepted it, because I had to. And I accepted that trying to follow through with that, in that house, with that person, would never have worked. It did not justify my choice, but it was a fact. It is a fact.
Therapy suddenly started to work. I began to sleep through the night, the nightmares stopped, the panic attacks went away, the OCD dissolved. It could have been anything... the doctors, Rhys, the medication, time. Everything combined. I realized that I am not what he thinks of me. I am kind. I am a good mother. I have so much love to give. I stopped hurting and realized one day that I had forgiven myself. I was happy and whole, and every day I silently thanked myself for being strong for the first time in my life, for staying alive, for trying. I thought, I can do hard things.
And it's true, we all can. We can all do hard things.
We may all be lost and we may never truly know where home is, but we must never stop searching for it.
We are fragile because we are human, but we are strong, and we need to give ourselves more credit than we do. We deserve that.
Then Rhys happened and I forgot I even had an ex-boyfriend the end.
*He left this on my windshield one day when I was at the dentist. I just found it in my Moleskine... it still feels good to throw these things away.