Our love was like the rain.

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I loved him fiercely, as broken as he was. Maybe I loved him in part because he was broken. I certainly found comfort in it. It was easier to be my authentically broken self with someone who was arguably more broken than I was.

I won’t get into the finer points of how we fell in love. For as much as I’ve contemplated sharing it, it was personal and I would prefer to keep it to myself. All anyone reading this needs to know is that I loved him. I loved him with all my heart and all my soul. When things weren’t right with us, my entire world crumbled to the ground. Loving him was like loving a thunder storm — beautiful and terrifying. Our song was Garbage’s “Only Happy When It Rains” and in many ways that’s how our relationship felt. When it rained, it poured, but during the dry spells I just found myself wishing it would rain again. The sun and the moon are consistent, but the rain comes and goes as it pleases. And we both did. We made our fair share of mistakes but no one can say we didn’t love each other. Only love can drive a person that crazy.

He brought out my darkness and I brought out his. At the worst of times, we were straight up toxic to each other. At the best of times we were like something straight out of a romance novel.

Whatever the effects of this article, I know he’ll read it and I know it’ll hit him hard as it becomes painstakingly clear that he’s lost me forever. But for all my worries that he wouldn’t be alright if life ever brought us to that fork in the road, I never stopped to wonder if I would be.

He once quoted to me “find what you love and let it kill you” and I can honestly say that I did.

I will never be the same following that relationship. He opened me up to a love so deep and so terrifying that there’s no doubt in my mind I will never experience love the same way ever again.

Whether it be friendship or romance, I know there will be a part of him in everything that I do. He taught me how to be soft, vulnerable, naked. He listened to all my woes and didn’t judge me. He held my hand (metaphorically speaking, seeing as our entire relationship existed within the confines of the internet) when he had nothing to say. For as tumultuous as our relationship could be, it was exactly what I needed.

He challenged me, in every sense of the word. I’m the kind of person who doesn’t take shit from anyone, but when things were sour between us he sometimes made snide comments that would make my skin crawl. I truly hated him at times, and that’s an emotion far more foreign to me than love.

More than anything, I hated the fact that he was 4000 miles away. I hated that I couldn’t hold him when I cried. I hated that I couldn’t touch him when I was feeling passionate. I hated that so many aspects of our relationship were just a fantasy, and always would be. The more I fell for him, the more I craved something real. And make no mistake, even at our worst times, I never loved him any less.

Even when he called me names, I still loved that man with every fiber of my being. He could be irrational, spiteful, tactless. I have OCD and he made my obsessions look tame at times. He put the anal in analytical. Sometimes I received the brunt of emotions he didn’t know how to process. He was 8 years older than me but his emotional maturity was severely lacking in many aspects. For as smart as he was, he never learned how to effectively communicate or keep himself calm under pressure. Seeing as I like to believe I’m rather good at those things, that was incredibly off-putting to me.

He pushed every last one of my buttons. He liked to boast that he was good at pushing buttons. Some people take a more calculated approach to pushing other people’s buttons, but he would just smash the keyboard and accept whatever result he encountered.

It’s almost like he went looking for the off switch, and after 3 years of friendship and roughly a year and a half of on-again off-again romance, he finally found it. I left him behind for the last time and he knew it, so he made sure to lash out in a way I’ll never forget. He just could not leave well enough alone. Rather than let me go peacefully on my way, he delivered me a parting blow that appeared as though it was designed to make me question everything.

Knowing him, it probably wasn’t, at least consciously. I think he truly was just afraid of losing me forever. I think he realized that if he didn’t say anything, that would be the end of it. He’d tried playing nice, and it didn’t work, so he went for the other button.

I always said I wanted someone who was a little bit of everything, just like me. I guess I wasn’t fully prepared to embrace the ups and downs that came with that. He was like a drug to me. When he was soft and gentle, he was as good as it gets. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t tearing up just thinking about the softness of his voice when it was just the two of us, in our quiet moments. I’m really not sure what I could say that would come anywhere close to accurately depicting the feeling I had in those moments. It was my utopia.

I can’t say it wasn’t worth the down times. I wouldn’t have stuck around for as long as I did if it hadn’t been. Every time I tried to run away he just pulled me back in, but I wouldn’t have gone back to him if I hadn’t loved him as much as I did.

I reached a point, however, that the down times were starting to affect my mental and emotional health on a level I couldn’t deal with any better than he could. I knew that in the end, we would be the death of each other. There was no other way it could end. We couldn’t share a life together. He was even poorer than I was, and while I knew next to nothing about his situation, I knew that two people as broken as us wouldn’t be able to thrive together, even if we had the means to meet up in person, just once.

I still tried to make it happen, and he fought me on it. He would throw around meaningless quotes whenever I pushed the subject, like “never meet your heroes.” I’m not certain he ever truly understood that it wasn’t the fantasy I was in love with. It was him.

I worked it out in my head, though. Had we met up in person, either we would have loved each other even more and been torn to shreds when we had to say goodbye, or it would have fizzled out. He was afraid of the latter. I was afraid of the former. Regardless of our financial situations, we were both afraid of the possibilities that path held and it couldn’t have ended well for us.

Not that it could have regardless. Perhaps I should have given him more credit for being the realistic one. We were both adept at creating fantasies, but he knew where to draw the line and I didn’t. I started fantasizing a life with him. I’m rather certain he did too, but he was careful enough not to discuss it with me. He knew full well that it could never happen, and as hard as I tried not to, in moments of weakness I liked to imagine that it could.

I think we all like to believe in that fairy tale romance where the person you didn’t even know was capable of love opens up to someone who shows them it’s okay to be vulnerable, and despite the challenges they have to endure, they work through it and live happily ever after.

Sometimes happily ever after is learning the lessons that relationship had to teach you and moving on with your life.

At first, I thought he was the one who was incapable of love. Sometimes I still manage to convince myself that’s the case. But for as many relationships as I’ve been in, and how hard I’ve searched for the love of my dreams, I’ve never allowed myself to be vulnerable enough to truly experience the depths of emotion that love can bring.

He said he’d never been in love before. I still have no reason to believe that wasn’t true. I honestly rather doubt he’ll ever love again, and that’s probably what makes this so difficult for me. I want him to move on, to live his life, to have the guts to fall in love again if he manages to stumble upon another girl who’s bold enough to fall for his snarky ass.

Because of him, I understand that love is a double-edged sword, with the power to heal and the power to destroy. I found what I loved. I let it kill me. I let it completely obliterate me until nothing but dust remained. And as cheesy as it sounds, that’s exactly what I needed in order to heal. I needed someone to destroy everything that was left of the woman I once was. I needed to die by his hands. All the trauma of my past was too much for me to process and I had been stuck reliving the same cycles for far too long.

So I suppose this is goodbye, my love. I know you’ll read this, and I know it will be difficult for you to process, especially since I had the nerve to write an article on it rather than talking to you myself. But you know full well why I did it. You always could see right through me. I don’t have the nerve to face you because I know I have to push forward, and as much as I love you, I can’t journey with you any longer.

I don’t regret a single thing. As painful as it was to lose you, and to know the pain I caused you in turn, all of it brought me here. Here is exactly where I need to be. I’m better for it. I’m stronger for it. I now have the courage to be my beautiful vulnerable self, and I have you to thank for it. I don’t want you to regret anything either, but also feel you should know that if you choose to reach out to me again, I won’t respond. Besides, what is there to say that hasn’t been said? I loved you, I still love you, and I will always love you in some way, shape or form. No matter what you say, no matter what you do, and no matter where life takes you, you will always hold a place in my heart.

Perhaps it’s time both of us learn to leave well enough alone.

A stroke of inspiration (pun intended) based on personal experience, helping lift people up by understanding they’re not alone and their experience is valid.

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