We knew we were bound for oblivion.
From the day we met to the last time our eyes locked, we knew we didn’t stand a chance. Yet, regardless of the obvious truth screaming in our faces, we jumped in together; hand-in-hand, hoping for the best.
He was different from me.
He was supremely intelligent, an atheist, and a realist to the furthest degree. I’m intelligent, too, but not in the way he was. I believe in God and my glass is always half-full. Some say I’m eternally optimistic, and they’re right. Now, we’ve all heard the old adage, “opposites attract,” but until I met K, I had no idea how truthful that saying was. K was tall and thin and I was, and still am, short and plump. But we collided like asteroids in space, sending billions of tiny pieces of ourselves out into the universe.
He was my best friend. He taught me things about politics and intelligent life outside of the human race. I taught him what I knew about God, and he’d listen even if he chose not to believe. Come Sunday morning he’d be right beside me on that same old church pew, holding my hand.
I never knew a love like K’s could exist. I never knew someone could find so many beautiful things within me.
Part of the thrill was in knowing the possibility of some sort of disastrous end to our perfectly imperfect love. We fought each other, tooth and nail, on so many things. We’d yell and close doors and I’d always cry, but I never lost hope that he’d be on the other side ready to take me into his arms when I was ready for the fight to be over.
I’d spend the minutes before he awoke on the weekends examining his perfect face, tracing the outline of his lips into my memory. I’d graze my fingertips along the firmness of his arms, remembering every dip and curve of his muscles, mentally photographing how perfectly I saw him. K would wake up and roll over toward me and stretch himself out in the most habitual way, and then he’d let his arms come down around me and I would nuzzle into him taking in with each breath the sweetness of his skin.
He smelled like home. He looked like home. He sounded like home.
He was where I wanted to be after a long day and with my morning coffee. He was walks through the park and car rides to nowhere. I saw forever in the gleam of his smile.
But things break.
People forget the path they were on and they go off course. K found someone else and decided to look for the magic within them, instead of seeing the sparkle in me. He grew distant and cold, no longer pulling me in tightly.
Instead of breaking my heart once and for all, he kept up the act. He kept me for a while—until I found out. The castle I had built around our life together turned back into sand and the waves of his decisions swept it all out to sea. The days of waking up next to his warm skin were over, and I found myself waking up to the cold darkness that consumed all my happiness.
I went to work and then I came home day after day. I cried bitter tears and screamed at the top of my lungs over and over until it hurt my throat to breathe. I bought his favorite whiskey and tried to drown myself in it.
After facing that ache of betrayal, I discovered two things: firstly, I like the taste of whiskey, and secondly, my life wasn’t over.
I lost the life I had spent so much time building and decorating, carving out each room of our happiness. I lost the first guy I loved enough to marry. But through all of that, I woke up to find myself still alive, still functioning, and ready to be happy again. So I joined a mentoring program and I learned how to sew. I started learning Italian and I created my own Netflix account. I watched every episode of Gilmore Girls and ugly cried on the last episode.
I refused to stop living.
My couch did not deserve to see more of me than the people in my life who were cheering me on the whole way. I decided to be happy for me regardless of what the universe said, because even when it hurts, I deserve happiness.
K and I don’t speak anymore, but I’m sure he knows I’ll always love him. He was so much a part of who I was, and I’ll always carry a faint reflection of that. Eventually I’ll find someone else and we will build a castle together, but my happiness will not rely on him. No, never again will I put that responsibility in anyone else’s hands.
I will keep searching and digging and finding my happiness on my own, and when I do meet that person who reminds me why it feels so good to be in love, they will be an addition to it and not the sole source.
Author: Danielle Phifer
Editor: Catherine Monkman
Photo: Blaque X / Unsplash