*Author’s note: this article is written in first person, but is based on the experiences of many.
Before I let you go, here’s what I want you to know.
I hoped things would get better, but they never did.
The same spiraling cycle continued, and it bore a deep hole in my soul.
All the while, I batted those waving, red flags away.
I ignored the advice of my caring friends, my family.
Time after time, I thought I could change you, even as your history followed you around.
I tried to understand.
I saw the good parts.
Your caring side.
Your wicked humor.
The fruition of your dreams, big and small.
Your endless ideas, your convictions, your passion, your turning wheels.
And I kept your secrets.
I wrestled your demons for you.
I took on your hypocrisies, they were but challenges to tame.
I gave up parts of my life so I could be the warrior you needed by your side.
I gave up myself, and I gave up my name.
I made you feel important.
Feeling important was always so important.
It topped the list.
I knew my role, I played my part.
Even when the bruises appeared, I held love in my heart.
When you were wrong, I made excuses.
I gave your words a nice, little spin.
I found a narrative I could stomach.
I let you think you were right because it was easier.
I gave in.
I understood your back story.
I held empathy, compassion, tenderness for you.
The sick part is, I still do.
I made concessions.
I fielded your behavior, like a quick-footed, golden-gloved shortstop.
There was nothing I couldn’t handle.
I was a loyal, smiling prop.
And then, I always forgave.
I still do.
When your words hurt me, I endured their sting. The stupids, the clumsies, the crazies, those three were like a lashing whip, like a striking cane that brought me to my knees.
When your fists found my body, my left shoulder, my belly, my ribs, I patched it all up, I fixed it, I healed while I covered myself in lies.
The lies poured out like rainwater rushing from a drain spout.
I held my own, waiting for the next bout.
I gave until it hurt.
Make no mistake, being with you always hurt.
In one way or another.
You didn’t take my power; I gave it to you on a platter.
You didn’t take my essence; I brought it to you—I placed it on your table with a side of wilted self-esteem.
Once upon a time, in the beginning, you fascinated me.
You shared all the thoughts in your head, your compelling opinions, and most of the time I just sat there and listened. I watched your eyes dance as my jaw dropped and my heart popped. It wanted to fall into line with the cadence of your being, and I did. I followed you right into all the wars you liked to talk about.
You were magic to me back then.
You are still magic. Even now, after all this time.
I loved the way your hair flipped in the front, the way you had to coax it, move it to the side, the way it struggled to find its place, in much the same way I struggled to find mine too. It was a trivial burden on its best day, as I was for you.
That black hair will always be your signature, the thing that makes those who love you think you’re someone else entirely, someone who isn’t split down the middle.
Once the touch of silver arrives on your brow line, once that piece puts your age on display, you will appear distinguished and more worldly, but it’s a faraway color I can only fathom, a color I will never know.
Because it’s time to let you go.
You, long and lean below the middle, then thick up top in your torso.
You, exuding charisma in public, exploding like a madman filled with fireworks in private, the yin and yang juxtaposed to form one person who leaks a pain he can’t contain.
All the times I’ve said goodbye, this one is my last.
But before I let you go, this is what I want you to know:
I want it to be clear,
I’m leaving you, without fear.
I saw you from the inside out,
And you are neither friend, nor foe.
I’m bent, not broken,
I curve like a bow.
This here, this.
This is what I want you to know.
I’m leaving you.
And I’m leaving the part of me that loved you blindly, too.