The Outcome of 6 Months of Typing and Deleting

I started to write a poem, because that was what I felt at the time. But the more this thought grew, I knew it was a blog post. The funny thing is….I think my last blog post was about the very beginning. I’ll have to go check.

It’s been 6 months and 5 days since my relationship ended. It feels like a lifetime. I’ve come to the keyboard so many times over these months to tell my story, but then I realized none of it mattered anymore. The hows, the whys, the fingers pointed at other fingers. I have done my analyzing, and it didn’t change anything. It’s over. It was over on day 1, to be honest.

You see, as much as these things don’t matter, I have to explain something for you to see the whole picture. He never loved me. Not once in the 2 1/2 years that he said he did. Not when he promised me it would be forever, that I was his life, that we were partners. He tried. That’s ok. It’s ok, because I loved him with every fiber of my being. My soul. I have never loved a human with so much of me in my entire life. And while people may argue differently, I know deep down that this is the absolute truth, no matter what. You might be wondering, how could I possibly think this when the relationship was so flawed and he didn’t even love me back? None of this impeded the ever growing adoration I felt for him. Granted, I didn’t know he didn’t love me until after it ended…but that is besides the point.

I thought I hadn’t found that great love yet. I worried that I never will. But it was there. Just because it wasn’t reciprocated doesn’t mean it didn’t exist. I have felt this great love. The love of my life. I can only imagine the awesome power of that love when it could be reciprocated. Over these 6 months and 5 days….6 days…it’s now after midnight…I have met and dated countless men. At first it served to fill the void…the need for affection and companionship I felt when suddenly my life partner had evaporated. I found some who have made me hope for a new start. False hope, but hope nonetheless. I’ve never been down for long, and this was no exception. But underneath the hope, I realize now that I’ve held onto my great love. It has never left me. It never will. I feel it when I open my pantry and see those damn Kahlua chocolates, or I eat our favorite Dijorno’s pizza. I feel it when I sleep perfectly on my side of the bed like I’m waiting for someone to hop into bed beside me. I feel it when I turn on the computer we built together, see the icons for the games we played. I feel it when our four-legged daughter does something cute and her daddy is not there to share the moment. I feel it in the silent darkness as I open the door to my empty apartment after a long day and there’s no one here to welcome me home. To our home.

I have felt this great love. My sweet, so intelligent, so gentle, so funny love.

It’s been 6 months and 6 days. I still cry. Hell, there are tears now. It’s not the hour long sobbing sessions that definitely spooked my neighbors in the beginning. The pain is still there.

After hearing a story, not so unlike mine, a very important question came to mind. What now? What do you do when you have loved so hard and so brilliantly so young? When you have given your soul to someone already, but an entire life lies ahead of you? What do you do when you have had your love of a lifetime, your white picket fence, so soon? I used to ponder this question out of love for a friend and their future, but now it seems this is my fate too. Although it makes me determined to find an answer, I worry that there is none. Do you wander aimlessly, because none of the faces you see are the face? Do you have hope? Is there even hope? Hope for what? Something less divine than the love we felt? Something beyond belief, dare I say..better?

I’ve run out of words, but I don’t know how to end this..so here is my underwhelming ending. Ta da.

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It Started With Cheese

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(Jared would like to note that his face here is ridiculous and that is not actually his smile.)

 

I often go back to the very beginning, wishing I could relive the first bursts of absolute love all over again. We had been talking for almost a week when I decided enough was enough. Jared reeled me in so easily with his smooth lines and witty conversation. I was eating out of the palm of his hand in no time. During that week, one could find me dashing through my apartment, giggling, dancing, squealing, and screaming. What caused my whole body to erupt in giddiness brought puke to others mouths. I hadn’t even met the boy and I was already in heaven! Our first date lasted 25 hours. We didn’t intend it to, naturally. I certainly didn’t go into it thinking I would sleep with the first man I had been on a first date with in years. Now, don’t go sticking your noses up at me. We didn’t “sleep” together. But I’m getting ahead of myself. Lets go back to 5pm, January 21, 2016. An apartment of 4 giggly girls peeked out of their various windows to catch the first glimpse of a boy sitting in a large, black jeep. How long had he been sitting there? Why wasn’t he getting out? Was he so nervous?  I remember the unstoppable butterflies that had kept me afloat since meeting Jared only grew more jumpy when I finally saw him move to exit his jeep. An eternity later a knock announced his arrival. Breathlessly tugging on my outfit and patting down my hair, I opened the door. He was smaller than I had imagined. And I had worn my favorite boots, which had a bit of a heel. Oh boy…

I was surprised how easily conversation carried on face to face. And when it didn’t, the silence was comfortable. As weird as it sounds, I was happy to watch him eat and memorize the man before me. He was quite handsome. He made me laugh. He told good stories. When the famous Farmhouse roast beef ran out, Jared had drunken ten sweet tea refills,and we had boxed up a large piece of red velvet cake for later, we headed back to his place to watch a movie. We simply couldn’t let the night end there! The sun went down, Seeking a Friend for the End of the World turned into Bridget Jones Diary, which then turned into munching on cake. (Somehow we managed to finish them, even though I was pausing it every 5 minutes for Jared to pee out his refills) During the movies we had forgone the awkward “no touching” stage and grown quite comfortable with each other. This prompted many hours of cuddling and conversations on the couch. We spread our life stories out for each other, feeling none of the usual strangeness present on a first date. The night wore on until we fell asleep in each others arms. It was so easy.

Eventually the first date had to end. I had people waiting for me back home who I knew would be dying for every detail. I’ll never forget how we flocked to the windows again to watch him leave, or how he spotted us from the parking lot and laughed. Just as it had been all week, a smile was ever-present on my face as I described the dream I lived. I rolled the events over and over that night, scarcely believing it could be real. Never in my life had someone matched me so perfectly, right down to our food preferences. He was perfect. But, life had taught me otherwise. I will admit, the moment I met him and realized how perfect he was, I knew the shoe had to drop. Nobody could be like that. But it never did. It still hasn’t. Being with Jared was natural from the very beginning. I’m sure I loved him soon after our first conversation, but wouldn’t admit it until after our date. Even though it was extremely early in the relationship, we were on the exact same page. From then on, we blossomed so quickly with no barriers in our way.

Jared freed me in every way possible over our first year. With his guidance and love I have become the best version of myself. I have grown to understand the world and love more than I ever have. There is never a day where I don’t look at him in awe. I still can’t believe how lucky I am. I wasn’t looking for much, but I found everything. We make each other stronger. We tried to live our own lives in the beginning, but it was just better for us to be together. There was no point in forcing separation when our beings just wanted to be close.

Tonight we went back to the little restaurant that started it all as changed people. Solidified people. We remembered the two awkward, young people who sat a few tables away. The gentle adoration, the innocent laughter, the simple love that glowed between us that night has only brightened over time. It will become more blinding as we face every new challenge together. Every new day I am so excited to earn his love, his precious smile, and my place in his strong arms. Happy Anniversary, my sweet love. This one’s for you!

 

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An Open Letter to the Distance We Traveled

Good morning,

I haven’t seen you since…well I don’t really remember the last time. Maybe it was the time I popped into church to retrieve something I’d forgotten and mistakenly said hello to a room full of newly minted strangers. I guess my brain missed the transition between ‘my friends’ and ‘people I used to know’. I guess after 2 years the excitement of seeing loved ones becomes automatic. Or maybe the last time I saw you was when we knocked on all the doors of our building trying to find the owner of that silver car so we could save that kitten. You know, we never got the chance to talk. I never knew what to say. It was already too over. When was the last time I looked you in the eyes and really saw you? When was the last time I didn’t retreat into my room at the slightest sign of life in the apartment? When was the last time I gave more than mumbled one word answers?

Half the time I was too consumed in my pain and abandonment. As usual, my mind would constantly string together all of the problems I’d caused between us and others I’d loved so fiercely, screaming how toxic I am to everyone I know. The word toxic seems to follow me wherever I go nowadays. I fell into old habits, but this time I no longer had my family to glue me back together when I exploded. I’ve been told so many times that there never was any glue, that you were never even on my side. I don’t even know what is real anymore. They say you weren’t good to me. For me. You were selfish, etc. But all I can remember are the ways we laughed together. The long nights, long talks, movie marathons, foods made, foods eaten, our first trip to the new Kroger and how we never wanted to leave…don’t they count for something?

I wanted to tell you that ring on your finger is beautiful. True love. I fought down the happiness I felt for you because I was angry that you had your life together while mine seemed to fall apart. Really, I’m excited for your future. I hope I get the honor of watching it unfold in pictures rather than not at all. I couldn’t help but notice the return of the missing puzzle to our family after everything went down. Now the gangs back together, but I’m alone.

Today you floated into Starbucks like the queen you are and found a place in line just a few people behind me. You wore the sweater I loved so much I couldn’t bare to give it away, so I kept it in the family. Your hair has grown out since you chopped it all off. I can’t help but wonder if you’re growing it out for the wedding. I hope you curl it. I always envied the way your hair curled so perfectly. I can imagine your response to this cold front. You probably pranced around the new apartment, celebrating the return of our favorite season by hugging your jeans, sweaters, and boots. I’m sure your order today was off the Fall menu. Something warm. Too often I catch myself saying something you would say, or how you would say it. Doing something you would do. Little things I picked up from you that became a part of me. Even worse, I hear your voice in my head as if you were still there to witness my life and make comments. I wish you knew how much I miss you in those moments. They’re a constant reminder of what’s been lost. I grew to know you too well, and now all I have is the ghost of you.

I tried so hard to assimilate into the family. Everyone seemed to be on the same page, but I struggled to keep up. I adored the effortless dorkiness I surrounded myself with. In the end, my failure to keep up killed me. This seems to be a pattern lately. In my eyes you were always better than me. You were both a threat and an idol. I looked up to you. Hopefully this explains why I am the way I am.

It’s too late to go back now. I’m not even sure this letter is a good idea. But we couldn’t even look at each other, 3 feet away. I feel safer in my isolation. At least here I can’t hurt anyone else. It should stay that way. Consider this my version of Adele’s ‘Hello’. I’m sad. I’ll probably always be sad. But maybe next time we’ll be able to smile at each other from across the coffee shop.

All the best,

Shelby

Breaking a Myth

I wasn’t planning on spending my first week back in town by myself in our rather large apartment. I didn’t want to. When I learned everyone else would go back to their lives after our New Years get-together, I instantly dreaded these two days alone. What is there to do in a tiny ghost town with no friends present to accompany you?

Tonight I stood in front of my mirror and silently praised myself for not breaking down and wallowing in my isolated misery. And then I was struck with a lifetime of memories, voices telling me to be alone with myself, get to know myself, be single, etc. I laughed and thought, what could being single have to do with analyzing your person and learning who you want to be? Why do I need to be single to come to terms with the character I’ve been for 20 years?

I started dating my freshman year of high school and I haven’t really stopped since. I don’t think I’ve gone more than a few months as a single person since I started dating. Most call me ‘boy crazy’, some even went so far as to call my ‘church girl’ nature an act and I was really a whore. I call it trying. I was trying in all the wrong places…but I was trying none the less. Through out this time, I’ve been told the “advice” you read above. Because apparently I have too much on my plate when I try to live life while in a relationship. So why stop at the boyfriend? Why not cut out every single person I have a relationship with so I can focus on the all important ME? As if I haven’t spent 20 years staring at ME in the mirror and witnessing first hand the life of ME?

See, I find it very odd that people who have known me for as little as 2 years to 10 years find it their duty to inform me I don’t know myself. My oldest friend has been in my life for around 17 years and even though she has the most right to give me said advice, she has never taken the chance. I could bring in thousands of bible references and what not, but I’m going to leave this paragraph at the word hypocrisy.

Do you ever look at the people around you and wonder if they have the same intelligent thought processes you do? Do you ever wonder what makes them tick, how they think, their motivations, their opinions? I do. I do all the time. This is only a fraction of the miles of forests that would die if my every day thoughts were put on paper. I’m going to be honest….half the time what comes out of my mouth does not reflect what goes on inside. I’m sure that’s a problem most if not everyone has. I don’t need to be single to reflect on past actions, future actions, and life long dreams. I do that every second of every day. I reflect on that embarrassing moment at the dance hall while I do the dishes, I reminisce on interactions with teachers, family, friends, and strangers before I sleep at night. I study my face and body in my mirror as I wash my hands or after my shower, noting imperfections and loving other features. I know myself better than anyone on this planet. The only one who could know me better than I do is God. My boyfriend of 2 1/2 years is still learning what it means to be me.

It’s funny because dating boys helped me to learn about myself and shape my character into someone I was proud of. They never once held me back from growing, because when they did, I left. I’ve always been flighty, but it’s important to making ME.

I’ve become very independent through many experiences, most of them dating related. I’ve had to face a possible future without my boyfriend and I hate it, not because I need him, but because he has become such an important part of my life and I thoroughly enjoy having him. I could stand without him. I would be a little wobbly at first, but I could. Who wouldn’t be wobbly after such a long relationship? When you have someone beside you and suddenly they’re gone, it’s shattering. If this isn’t an indication of my independence and confidence in my being, then I don’t know what is.

I’m sitting on my couch, eating 3 Musketeers Bites, and watching Scandal, and I can’t help but think this is how you get to know yourself. Not by blocking your heart off to love, but being independent and unafraid to meditate. Later I’m going to call my sweet boyfriend and enjoy having a best friend to love me for me.

 

 

From the Damaged Place

I wish I could shoot daggers at you.

I wish I could glare at you, but all I can do is give you the classic doe eyes, because that’s what I am around you. I wish I wouldn’t freeze up every time you come into sight. I wish I didn’t feel the need to impress you after everything you’ve done to me.

I wish I could stop you and scream at you and punch you and slap you. And cry. I wish I could cry.

For the emotional trauma you put me through. For the ruination of my carefully stacked blessings. For the horrible damage I did, and continue to do, to myself  because of you. For the word poison that continues to ring in my ears to this day. For the way I have to continuously validate myself to myself every. day.

I wish I was worthy. I wish I saw my own worth. I wish you saw my worth. I wish I was important to you. As important to you as you were to me.

I wish more of me hated you. I wish less of me wanted you. I wish I could stop obsessing over something so obviously negative.

I wish I could focus on what’s important, instead of the seconds of awkward passing I work so hard to encounter.

I wish you would just leave already.

I wish I would stop staring out the window, waiting. I’ve always been waiting.

I wish that I had been stronger than you. I wish that I had been better than you. I wish that I could have stopped you.

I wish this post, and the posts waiting to be finished in my draft box, and the many poems didn’t exist. I wish I could speak about it. They’ve all heard enough already. I wish this pain was only mine.

I wish that I could scream that I was abused, because that’s what I feel, but I can’t stand up with the broken women and feel like I belong there. Maybe my abuse was imaginary. Maybe my abuse was internal. Maybe I’m to blame.

I wish I didn’t defend you every time. I wish you knew that I was the only one defending you.

I wish I was fine. I wish I was normal. I wish the year of depression, agony, and insanity belonged to someone other than me. A dream. No, I wish they were a nightmare. At least I would wake up, and someone would love me back to sleep.

What does poisonous even mean…? I thought I was good…

A Million Reasons Why

He holds my tear stained cheeks and tells me I’m worth more than I receive. While I fall apart, he picks up the pieces and glues them together with words of love and adoration, promising me I’m not what they say. He cried with me when I received news that my best friend was in the ICU, even when he barely knew her at that point. When others seek to tear him down he defends them to me so I won’t tarnish their image in my mind.

He gets excited with me over silly things like taking a floral design class. He doesn’t complain when I take his hand in mine in public, because he knows it brings me happiness. He reads and rereads my pieces and tells me I’m his favorite writer. He sends me sunset pictures because he knows how much I adore them. He cares for my friends and family because I care for them. He indulges my Taco Cabana obsession, even though we both know eating 5 tacos is horrible.

He pushes my comfort zone and waits to catch me if I fail. Every failure is given a dismissive wave and I’m given loving encouragement to press on. When I fall into horrible cases of writers block, he inspires me to keep writing. He tells me often how proud he is that I’m chasing my dreams, even when it means swimming against the current. He inspires me every day to write, do well in school, and be the best person I can be. His smile, His face, His voice is enough to give me strength when it all seems hopeless.

He’s a special work of art. He’s someone I could never truly figure out, even if I spent my whole life trying. He’s smart beyond belief. He sees more than I could fathom. He aches to study and learn and explore, just as I do. He has such a compassion for humanity and helping others.

They ask me why I stay and I just smile, because I know there isn’t another man on Earth I could be more proud to call mine.

My Fool Proof Guide to Making a Long Distance Relationship Work

I lied. It’s not fool proof. The truth is, Long Distance is poison in every way. Distance does not make the heart grow fonder! This I know to be an absolute truth. And this is the very reason I cry every day. At some point each day, it hits me again that I will be leaving my love behind on Saturday for another year. My first year in college was such a disaster for our relationship that even with the firm foundation built by this summer, I’m terrified of what this year might bring. So this is my coping mechanism; a lesson for all those newbies and oldies out there going through long distance.

  1. Talk every day. EVERY. DAY. Tell them about your life, the little things that go on, your favorite parts of the day, share pictures, send videos, maybe even write letters. Who doesn’t like snail mail?
  • Why is this important? Because, the more you allow them into your life and they allow you into theirs, the better. They may not know your friends or co-workers personally, but your transparency and constant contact will make it almost feel like they’re with you. Remember, your communication is your lifeline. It is the most important aspect of your relationship.

2. Practice empathy. Those times he/she starts snapping, or crying on the phone over little things…don’t let it get to you. They’re tired, they probably miss you a lot, their life is taking a toll on them, whatever the reason, just remember to keep calm.

  • We’ve all seen those movies where the guy or girl has to leave their friends to go calm down their crazy significant other. This is one of those moments, except you don’t have an audience groaning because the perfect match has been in front of you waiting the entire time. I don’t know the kind of relationship you’re in, but most of the time if you’re willing to go into a long distance relationship, you’re either inexperienced or in it for the long run. The perfect person is sitting there on the phone, unconsciously causing drama, and all you need to do is remember the love you share and the real reason behind petty arguments.

3. Try to plan visits as often as possible. If you’re in college, going home once a month might be a good option. You can always meet in the middle somewhere. If your interest isn’t at home, maybe rotate who visits who. This works whether they’re in your hometown or not.

  • Face-time is a close second to Communication. Time spent together is the best rejuvenation you can receive. It helps work out the knots and wrinkles and re-fortify the relationship for another round of long distance. Skyping or facetiming is slightly better than a simple call or text, but touching and seeing each other in person is the best solution.

4. You will probably get closer to people around you, because you see them every day and they are more involved in your life. Just remember, as much as you communicate and see your significant other, a small feeling of distance is normal.

  • The more you feel your relationship is crumbling, the more it will. This is where all other guide points come into play. Don’t hide feelings from your other half. Be honest, and try to work through any distance you may see cropping up. Understand your partner like you did before the separation.

5. Don’t be afraid to lean on each other! You’re in this together, and like I said before, communication is key. It’s better to go to your other half than your best friend with your relationship problems.

  • With your best friend, all you’re doing is venting and clouding your mind with someone else’s opinion. With your partner, you’re actually putting problems out there to solve. Most of the time, your partner is your best friend above anyone else. But we all have that one girl friend or guy friend we go to for advice and venting, right? When you’re in long distance (or really any situation for that matter…) it’s best to keep the dirty details private.

Above all, keep in mind that long distance will strain your relationship no matter what you do. It’s not going to be a walk in the park, but don’t let that scare you away. One day it will end and you’ll be back with your significant other. Hopefully you won’t have to be separated again, but in case you do, you’ll know how to make it work. It’s only a waiting game. Waiting to see, waiting to talk, waiting for the time to pass. The beginning will be more difficult than the end, but eventually you’ll find your routines and figure out how to blend. Best of luck to you and your relationship!