I was recently asked if I had a breakup story to share.
This is the story –
When I would close my eyes and think of her, I would see her smile. It forms ever so slowly to where her eyes squint softly, her cheeks begin to glow, and then the tiniest of dimples appear as if to remind you that there is indeed pure beauty in this world.
Her smile more than plants your feet on the ground because it’s made up of empathy, compassion, and the type of selfless love that tells you that you are home.
If you don’t smile when she smiles, you have no heart. Her smile could make your heart ache with comfort.
In this moment she wasn’t smiling.
Her eyes looking down. I was in front of her as she was in front of me. The lady’s back leaning against the wall of her bed, while I sat idle on a stool in the middle of her room.
The only noise that could be heard was a sniffle from her nose, the pensive scratching from my nails, and the lamp’s bulbs radiating energy from being on for too long.
We were just trying to make sense of the last two hours.
Per usual, we were fighting.
I could talk about how we weren’t always like this, and tell you about the times we’ve laughed for hours, high-fived each other, cheered each other’s names on the sidelines at our events, and kissed each other in a way where time actually stopped, and the words “love” and “you” meant something.
But now those were just memories of what was and what wasn’t. Instead, our eyes were barely opening and then they would shut as we were unable to go on anymore.
2am never felt so lonely.
The silence lasted for another 20 minutes when suddenly I realized something.
I put the pieces together.
It all made sense.
The only thing left to do was ask her the question…
I crossed my arms
I took a deep breath
My furrow brow creased upwards…
I looked at her as if to say… this is it
I opened my mouth and asked her a question to which I already knew the answer to. I’ve known the answer for months now and yet I never had the energy to say it out loud…
Me: Do you love me?
Do. You. Love. Me?
I will always remember her face.
She looked up with tears gently flowing from her eyes. She was no longer leaning, she was melting into the wall…
Her: I’m so sorry.
Then the sniffles.
Her: I loved you. I loved you. I. loved you.
I no longer saw her dimples, I just saw hurt, I felt her pain.
I could barely breathe.
Her: I don’t love you the way that I used too…
I closed my eyes and creased the middle of my forehead so tight to hold back the tears ready to burst from my heart… I needed to hold it together.
Hold it together Jonathan.
Her: I’m so sorry. I’m so sorry.
Me: You don’t have to be sorry.
Her: I just didn’t want to hurt you.
Here was this lady.
The one who made the world stop…
I hate to see her go through pain and yet here I was putting her through all of this… the only instinct I had was to approach her and bring her body close to my heart. I hugged her as if to say this would be the last time I would get to be with her.
The next couple of hours wasn’t met with our words, but with the sweat of our bodies, with the scratching of our injuries, and with the tears of every single memory we had with each other.
Then we fell asleep in each other’s arms…
knowing the end was near.
The next morning I started packing my things.
It would be the first time that I wouldn’t be cheering on the sidelines as she ran the annual marathon we usually trained for – together. I started to save photos, export the files from our private blog and started doing what I could to disappear from her life for a while.
I was told that the best way to breakup is to stop communicating. I didn’t want to be a needy ex.
I would receive a text message later on in the week.
“I don’t know if we should go through with this, I’m mixed”
“We have to because it’s the right thing…”
Then on Nov, 8th 2015… it happened.
Throughout the week, to numb the emotions coming from all different directions, I decided to halt the intake of my PTSD and manic depressant medications. I needed my body not to understand the emotions I was about to feel.
It allowed me to do what I did next.
I drove her to where she worked for the last time.
7pm. Night sky. It was a cool breeze in that parking lot.
We began walking around as I told her this…
“See up there? That’s the north star. I was reading some relationship-type article where if you both treat the north star as love, then you’ll be okay. No matter if you’re fighting, depressed, unsure, or lost… because the north star is ‘love’, if you head there, the relationship will last and only get stronger.”
Then I paused.
“Well. Right now you need to be your own north star and I need to be my own north star. But before we end this… I do have a question.”
Knowing the answer to this question would be one of the most important things I had to hear. I had to know…
The many years we’ve been together from her teens to our graduations to beyond. The years of development, to the personal obstacles we had to face, to the mini breakups, all the way to the dramatization of our family lives.
It was a six-year whirlwind – from the great to the not so great – we’ve been through it all…
Me: did you grow in our relationship?
a caring reflective smile broke through…
Her: Are you kidding me?
the lines on top of her head wrinkled to say “of course.”
Her: Everything that I am, everything that I’ve become, and everywhere I’m going… is because of you. You had a big part.
You can’t ask for a greater response.
All I could I do is bite my lip and reflect contently.
Then about a month later, her sister texted me with: “thank you for taking care of her all these years… good luck with whatever you do next.”
You can’t ask for a better breakup.
I’m not going to lie, there were parts when writing this that was tough because I had to dig deep to recall the emotions during that time. But I want to be very clear that I’m okay.
I was lucky that I had friends who were also going through breakups and I had people to talk it through.
It was never about getting back together. Far from it. it was always trying to figure out what happened.
I’ve learned so much since then.
It took time to move on, figure myself out, and be able to talk about it how I’m talking about it now.
I wish this story was as bright and funny as many of my other stories… maybe later I’ll tell you what happened when I got back into the dating game. Holy moly, I was like a middle school kid all over again. It was rather embarrassing. I was a strange one.
So I’ll just end with this…
I’m lucky how my relationship with her started, I’m grateful for our time together, and I’m the luckiest person in the world when it comes to how we ended things.
Thanks for listening.