I was in my 20s. He was 7 years older than me. I had moved to his little ski town some years earlier, dropping out of college to “find myself”. We dated for quite a few years, actually. I had met all of his family and he had met mine. I had pictured our entire life together. We would attend our friends’ weddings and whisper in each other’s ear about how our wedding would be. I was so blissfully unaware.
One day, at my second job, I began to notice my coworker. We had been friends for a while, but this day brought feelings I wasn’t prepared to deal with. I grew more and more interested in him as time passed. I grew less and less interested in the love of my life. I was terribly confused and scared. I thought I was falling in love with the new guy and falling out of love with the old guy. Was it even possible to feel love at such a young age? I’m skeptical now.
I remember the night I broke things off. I had never been the one to let a relationship go. I was ALWAYS the broken hearted…never the heart breaker. I was young, scared and inexperienced. He cried. I’ll never forget that pain. I’ll never forget how I could literally feel his heart breaking in two. Being responsible for something so disastrous makes you feel so small. Even now, as I’m typing this, I am reuniting with all those lost memories. I wish those upon no one.
For weeks, he would visit me. He would cry. I would cry with him. I told him we’d stay friends and I would never allow us to lose our connection. I knew deep down, I was lying. The relationship I THOUGHT I was leaving him for, wasn’t anything close to my expectations. I was merely a pacifier. A warm body to fill a spot. I was devastated when he told me we wouldn’t be seeing each other anymore. I wanted to die. Literally. I wanted to drop dead on the cold, hard concrete floor of my shitty basement apartment. I had nothing.
When the winter season returned, I was again working with the “former love of my life”. It was torture. I pretended I didn’t care. He pretended to be my friend. We spent a random night together. I fell for him all over again. The next morning, he told me he’d been seeing someone and he really wanted to see where it would go. I threw up. The person I was supposed to be with for the rest of my life was officially, well, out of my life.
I didn’t leave my apartment for a week. My family couldn’t get me on the phone. My friends couldn’t get me to answer the door. I could literally feel my insides melting. I screamed. I cried. I prayed. I sat in silence. What do you do when he’s no longer there? What could I possibly take away from all this?
A few years ago, he got married to the girl he dated after me. He was so happy. Even though I knew there was a reason we weren’t supposed to be together, I was still heartbroken. I didn’t tell anyone…but my mother. This is actually the first time I’ve ever admitted how much it killed me inside.
Last year, he and his wife had their first baby. What a joy for him! You have to understand, this man is the male version of Mother Theresa. So kind. So peaceful. So happy. This man deserved everything he wanted in life, and more. Sometimes we have to let go of what we believe to be real. Sometimes we have to allow people to be freed. Sometimes we’re the ones who need freedom.
It wasn’t until nearly a decade later, I realized why he wasn’t a permanent fixture in my life. He was there to be a teacher. He was my first taste of love. He taught me how to snowboard and later become a ski patroller. He taught me how to love weird food and live healthy. He brought so much beautiful music into my life. He allowed me to give as much as I received. He showed me what it felt like to be loved. He showed me what it felt like to lose love. He was an important building block in who I grew up to be. For that, I’m forever grateful.
And I know I can survive anything.