“Love is beautiful when it’s professed, but only meaningful when it’s practiced.” ~ Brene Brown
Believe me—I tried to let you go.
I deleted you from Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Snapchat. I deleted our text thread and blocked your number.
I tried to let you go—but then I would remember that you liked your eggs “up.” You would always kiss my right shoulder before I fell asleep in your arms. You sighed with a smile when I would forget to maximize the Netflix window every time we watched a show.
You loved me.
And so, the re-adding would commence. I would find your number again—in a picture I had saved, in an album I had tried forget. I would somehow convince myself there were enough embers of the flame that used to exist between your heart and mine, and we could stoke our love back to life.
I would be back to square one.
But then you wouldn’t text me back. Or I would remember that time you called me bipolar just to be cruel, or when your friends were jerks and you didn’t stand up for me, or when I would beg you to give me a sign that you were still in this…and I would be met with the coldest of responses—silence.
It would all become too much.
My heart would start beating with the panic of a girl who knew she was inviting pain back into her house, even though she thought she had locked it out for good. Delete, delete delete. If it was gone, maybe I could pretend it wasn’t real.
This vicious circle spun round and round, until one day you said, “I can’t do this anymore.”
I read that email a little shocked—because this was our game, wasn’t it? The one we couldn’t bear to play, but stopping was impossible because—well, we loved each other, right? We spoke those words to each other all the time.
I said as much, and waited for a few days. No response.
I texted again, “Come on—I deserve a response, don’t I?”
I wanted clarity. I was tired of making decisions alone that we should have been making together. I wanted a “Yes” or a “No”—an in or an out-—a clear “I will fight for us” or a forfeit.
Time for you to step up, I thought.
Well, the universe—in her divine irony—obliged my request.
In your final words to me, you became the man I always needed you to be.
Your decision was to not be together.
You told me, “You will remain the biggest regret of my life. I don’t regret the time we spent together, but we are not together and will not be together in the foreseeable future. No amount of words or actions can change that. I think we need to give each other space.”
Once I read your last words to me, I ran out of my office and up six flights of stairs where I collapsed.
Breathing was impossible—crying, inevitable. I knew that this was it. I knew I wouldn’t be contacting you anymore. I could feel the vacancy in my heart where, not 24 hours ago, you held your rightful place. The memories I shared with you, which once reflected joy, were now tinged with nostalgia.
You were gone—and that was the greatest gift you could have ever given me. As desperately as we clung to the love we shared, it was never truly right.
My demons didn’t play well with your demons. Trust issues oxidized around the iron walls of my heart. I could never really let you in. Your fear of the future prevented you from banging on the doors.
We were trapped in a cycle, loving each other ineffectively, but grasping at the threads of faith in the space between us, to come close enough to touch that so maybe, just maybe, this time it would all work out. And then the next day, I would be crying on the bathroom floor, because love—even true love—wasn’t enough to make it work.
You let me go first.
That was your last and perhaps greatest act of love. You saw that I tried and couldn’t. You also saw what was best for me, for us both—and you stepped up. You put on your suit of armor and got on your white horse.
You let me go.
You knew you could make me stay if you wanted to; speak simple words—true or false—of affection, or the promise of affection one day, just to keep me waiting in the wings in case someday you wanted me again.
But you didn’t.
You did the right thing. You were brave.
You lost me forever, and in doing so, you gave me my freedom.
You loved me—so you let me go.
Author: Kathleen Hannah
Image: Donnie Nunley/Flickr
Apprentice Editor: Melinda Matthews; Editor: Yoli Ramazzina