my heart was broken, and subsequently the future I saw for myself unraveled.
Two weeks prior to my 31st birthday, my whole life turned upside down. I realize that sounds a tad dramatic so let me clarify upfront that there was no tragic death, I wasn’t diagnosed with cancer, and my dog didn’t drown in the ocean. I am not a Syrian refugee, the Ebola epidemic will likely not affect me, and I am not a drug user residing in the Philippines. But as far as first world problems go, I stand by my opening statement.
My heart was broken, and subsequently the future I saw for myself unraveled. I suffered a broken heart once before in high school when my first love cheated on me and I always thought, albeit naively, that because of the pain and suffering I endured at seventeen that that would be it. One and done, like a rite of passage into adulthood. Broken hearts no more, I had learned my lesson. I learned to stay away from the bad boys; they tend to do bad things and you cannot change them no matter how influential you think you are. But I was wrong.
When I met my ex boyfriend we were working together and I initially didn’t feel an ounce of attraction to him because a) he was married b) I was in a cohabitating relationship and c) he was overweight and very hairy. But fall in love we did inexplicably, and we ended up dating for four years.
I know what you must be thinking… how can you sympathize with me when I just told you I was dating a married guy? Of course my heart was broken and I deserved what was coming, dumbass/whore/homewrecker/Becky with the good hair/bitch please. It’s easy to recognize all of these red flags now…. But back then my judgment was clouded by the constant reassurance that he was long separated, had been in a loveless and sexless marriage, was close to finalizing his divorce. He painted a picture of a bright future with me in it full of exotic travel, successful careers, great sex, and French bulldogs named Frankie and Little Justice. As time marched on and nothing changed I should have been ripping down those red flags, stomping on them and running toward Mexico where I would be healed with sunsets and tequila. But I didn’t because I was in love. Ah, love. It’s a motherfucker, huh.
Ah, love. it’s a motherfucker.
After spending four of my prime twenty-something years with this guy, after several visits home to meet my family, after countless romantic trips across the globe, after hundreds of orgasms, he practically disappeared out of my life. Last September I had a girls trip planned to Greece and Croatia. The day I left I received a text from him that read:
“I hope you have an amazing time on your trip and I truly mean that. I am sorry I keep getting your hopes down. I promise to make time to talk as soon as you get back.”
That was the last time I ever heard from him.
He never faced me to explain the disintegration of our relationship. He didn’t answer my texts, my calls, my email, or even my letter. He was a grown man in his mid thirties who held a steady job, owned a car and a fancy watch, brushed his teeth every day and had an IRA account. He withheld the information I needed to close that chapter and move on, so suffer I did for several months not eating much, not sleeping much, and walking around in a constant state of numbness.
Then my best friend said, “enough.” I wasn’t the ebullient girl she knew and loved. It wasn’t as simple as shouting at me to snap out of this funk and let go. She knew I needed to shed at least a sliver of light onto the truth. She encouraged me to do research in order to find the closure I needed and deserved since he lacked the courage to do it himself. I wasn’t one for stalking, but as the words came out of her mouth my stomach knotted so intensely I had to bend over to ease the pain. Somehow I knew what I would find, but fear was preventing me from seeking the truth. She was right though — it was time.
After spending thirty minutes of detective work on Facebook, which was by no means an easy task considering there wasn’t a trace of him on social media anymore, I found my evidence. My eyes fell onto a photo of him with his “ex” and her family posted the day after the last time I saw him. A day after he last uttered “I love you.” A day after he stood in my apartment and hugged me. It was one of the most painful moments of my life, but I didn’t cry. I thought. I added the pieces up in my head. He wasn’t the man I thought he was, and was never going to be the man I wanted him to be. Finding that photo got me on the path to letting go and moving on.