Healing Through Saying Goodbye
The end of a relationship is usually a chaotic mess, with hurt feelings, broken hearts and words left unsaid. There is often no closure. When my fiancé of eleven years left me for someone else, I felt blindsided. We had issues with his infidelity in the past but, after a series of brutally honest conversations, I believed we had finally moved past them. We had been communicating and were more affectionate and attentive. In the weeks before he announced he was leaving, we went on long car rides, happily singing along to the radio and talking about life; Walked hand in hand through the farmer’s market, shopping for houseplants; Went to the drive-ins, fooling around like two teenagers going steady; We made love multiple times. We had overcome so much and it finally felt like we were going to make it. Before I could even wrap my head around it, he was gone.
I desperately needed closure. Whenever he would come by to gather more of his things, I would tearfully ask questions, desperate to understand. He spoke candidly about his new relationship, admitting that he wasn’t even at ‘love’ with her, but that it was nice being with someone who expected nothing of him. He talked about all she had: a good job, her own house and the ability to help him pay for things when his money was tight. He talked about still loving me and that I had done nothing wrong, that I was sweet, loving, beautiful, intelligent and deserved more than he could give me. He felt I would never be able to fully let go of his infidelities and that I had stagnated in life and he wanted more. He talked and talked, but nothing he said gave me closure. After he left, I realized I never had a chance to speak my mind. It had been all about how he felt and what he wanted. To get closure and begin to heal, I needed to share how I felt and say my own goodbyes.
As I sat down to write, I found myself at a loss for words. The only goodbyes I had written were suicide notes during the roughest moments of my life; Times when I was so full of pain and anger that I wanted to give up and die. This goodbye was different. My heart had been shattered but I wasn’t at that dark place where I wanted to give up and fade away. As I began to write my goodbyes, I thought of it as an anti-suicide note. I wanted to share my heartache, confusion and pain, not to die but so I could move on and live.
I honestly in my heart of hearts never thought I’d be writing my goodbyes to you. I imagined us as one of those sweet couples, growing old together, sitting in the park feeding birds, holding hands, a lifetime of love together. When you had proposed, I said yes because I wanted that for better or worse, richer or poorer, sickness or health with you – not because I thought you were perfect but because I loved you for who you were.
I knew about the abuses you suffered and cried over your scars. I saw you at your worst and still cherished you for all the good I knew was buried underneath. I stood by you through injuries and unemployment, always trying to be brave and encouraging to offset your fears. I always put you before myself because, in my heart, that’s where you belonged. There was nothing I would not have stood by you through, nothing I thought we could not overcome.
Throughout it all, you were always still searching for where the grass was greener. Again and again you strayed, and again and again I stood beside you. Though your infidelities broke my heart and crumbled my self-esteem, I wanted to be that one person who would never give up on you, would never abandon you or walk away. I never understood why you couldn’t see what you had right in front of you. Ultimately, you chose money over love, creature comforts over my commitment to stand by you through anything life may have thrown at us.
When you were leaving me and saying your goodbyes, you talked about how you felt I had stagnated in life. That I was not trying anymore and you wanted more out of life. For years, I battled depression, anxiety and ptsd worse than I ever let on because I never wanted you to worry. I poured what little energy I had left into being there for you and my kids. Even with that burden, I had still made huge strides lately. You had been so busy shopping for someone else you must have missed them. When we fought, I no longer retreated to cry though my flight response was always high – instead I would stay and try to talk. I was trying to find ways to heal through the traumas of my past. Asking you to drive me past where my mother shot my father was one of the hardest things I had done, but I fought off one anxiety attack after another, ready to face my fears with you at my side. That day is what inspired me to start writing about my past and to fight harder than I’ve ever fought before to heal. If you would have waited just one more week, you would have been here when it all came together and my book was finally done.
The one thing that kept me writing through the worst nightmares of my life was the thought of being able to heal for you, to be able to function better for you, to make you proud. Little by little as I wrote and began to heal, my mood picked up. I was bounding to the door to greet you with hugs, standing at the window watching for you, waiting to make hearts with my hands and tilt my head in that quirky way that always made you smile. You were too busy looking for greener grass to see it all, but I was getting better. I was in a better place and fighting the hardest battle of my life to heal and be the person I thought you wanted me to be.
Since you’ve left, I cannot count the number of people who have told me how stupid you were for giving up on us. We may not have had a lot in a financial sense, but you had someone who would massage your muscles when you were sore, make you food when you were hungry, rub your head when you were stressed. You had someone who was able to see past all the hurt you had caused and still love you for the man underneath. You had something true and genuine, something people search their whole lives for and often never find. We may not have had a lot of money or possessions, but we had love. Not that fresh and exciting new love full of butterflies, but a strong and honest love, that knew all the bad as well as the good and still burned true.
I honestly don’t hate you. I truly wish you well. I hope you’re able to find happiness in the things you’ve surrounded yourself with – her house, her money, her possessions. I can tell you from experience, though, that money and stuff does not bring happiness, at least not any lasting kind. There’s a fleeting elation in having new things, maybe a sigh of relief at not having bills looming, but it’s an empty happiness because there’s no foundation. I hope you’ll eventually be able to show her all of yourself and she’ll be able to love you, scars and all, and forgive you for any hurt you’ve caused her as I once did. I hope you’ll be able to find that love again that would stand the test of time, for better or for worse, for richer or poorer, in sickness or health. People say that kind of love is a once in a lifetime thing but perhaps you’ll be lucky enough to find it twice.
As for me, I’m going to keep writing and keep healing. The fight I began to become healthier for you and healthier for us, I’m continuing for myself. I cry today because goodbyes are hard, tear apart your heart and soul hard. But I won’t cry again over you. I may silently mourn you and the love we shared when faced with reminders of our years together, but I must move forward. You’ve made your choices in life. I may not understand them but I must accept them. I will move on and search for love again because I want that once in a lifetime love, myself; For someone to love me for better or worse, richer or poorer, in sickness and in health. You’ve already had someone love you that way. I deserve to have that kind of love myself.
You’ve said your goodbyes and assured me of how much happier you are with her at your side. I truly hope that was in earnest because I would love to see you finally happy in life. For over a decade, I tried with every ounce of my being to give you all the love and happiness in the world. While I cannot say I’ve found happiness yet myself, I can tell you I’m in a better place. I’m beginning to surround myself with people who appreciate me for all I am and all I have to offer; all those things you took for granted while searching for greener pastures. I’m healing and moving forward in life. While it’s bittersweet knowing that I won’t have that happily ever after I always imagined with you, I am more determined than ever to still have my happy ending. I’ll never forget you or the love we once shared, but it’s time to let go and move on. Goodbye my Love.
Republished on Your Tango on 10/20/16.