As this year comes to an end, I can’t help but reflect on something that happened to me earlier. I was watching what I thought was the first episode of American Horror Story: Coven. When I started watching the second episode, I realized how it felt utterly out of place from where the first one left off. I went back, looked at my Netflix history and figured out that I had actually watched the last episode of the third season and was gearing up for the fourth season, Freakshow.
This mishap is what inspires this entry.
Think about 2016 thus far. Imagine if you could have seen the end before the actual beginning. Would you have continued onward? Would you have made the same choices, mistakes, and actions knowing that it would end up like it did? Would you even go back to the beginning at that point if you had a chance? Live it all over again? Dream? Love? Fight? Laugh? Cry? Work? Play? Indulge?
Whatever it is that you did, what would be different if you had a do-over? What would you change if you found out the ending of your chapter before it actually began? Would you remain the same person you are today, or simply a hybrid? Would you have to experience the same type of situations in order to grow, or would you grow in entirely different ways because of your entirely different situations?
Even if someone told me what would have happened to me this year to make me the person I am today, I wouldn’t have believed them. I would have naively and, more than likely, blissfully carried on as if impenetrable. I would have thrown caution to the wind, did what I wanted to do, and wouldn’t look back. And that’s exactly what I did, only I am looking back.
I don’t regret anything that has happened. This year was wonderful for so many different reasons. I experienced so many “first times,” that I should write a book (and I hope one day, I will). I also hurt this year more than I ever thought I could, more than I ever had before. I have experienced many losses in my life, the worst being the death of my grandfather, Diddy, but nothing could prepare me for the loss of my first love.
I have never been so utterly depressed and felt so alone as I did during that time. So many close friends told me to hang in there, that “time will heal all,” and I kept thinking, “I know what you’re saying. I hear what you are telling me, but I just don’t know if I can believe in that right now.” And then, it happened. Almost like I exorcised myself back into the human being, no, the individual I thought I had lost.
Being hurt like that presents so many options. Could you cry yourself to sleep? Oh, absolutely, but there were more nights when I would lay wide awake than not. Could you become reclusive from your friends and family? Certainly, but I chose to get myself out of the house and build on more solid friendships. Could you allow yourself to believe you were truly dying on the inside? 100% yes, but something that painful doesn’t kill you… it makes you into one tough mother fucker. That’s what I have become.
I’m not sad anymore. I’m not mad anymore. I’m not even numb. This was one of those situations I had to experience in order to come out on top and truly value my worth. I learned that I am so much more than any person’s perception of me. I don’t need to seek someone’s approval when I have my own. I am so unbelievably grateful this happened to me now. It’s given me the boost of confidence I need to no longer cower to a sophomoric level but to rise beyond the fray.
I have so much to offer those who want me in their lives. You learn so much about relationships when you hit rock bottom. You learn who you want to keep around versus those you should keep around. There is quite a difference.
I saw myself in many different stages when this love met its end.
There’s the disbelief stage. How could this happen to us? To me? I was so careful. I loved you so much. I believed in us so much. I fought so hard to make this work. I would have given you the world! But it just doesn’t work out that way. I don’t believe anyone goes into a relationship with someone thinking, “Oh, boy, I can’t wait to learn the lesson from this!” No, you go into it thinking how wonderful a person is; how great they make you feel. When it ends, you start to question yourself/the other person. Could this be real? Is this not a horrible nightmare I’ve yet to wake from?
Then comes the denial. It can’t be happening. Not to me. Not to us. We loved each other so much. You can’t be gone from my life. Please, don’t go! Stay here with me. We can work this out. You convince yourself that you deserve the best; that the best isn’t really gone from your life. I had to remind myself that it wasn’t the best, but still somehow believed that nothing else would ever come close to that special love I had. There’s the hope that everything is still magically going to be wonderful and dandy. I’ll never be loved like that again so we have to work things out. However, if it ended like it did, why would you want to be loved like that? It didn’t work out for a reason.
Then you begin to bargain. What can I do? I’ll do anything. Tell me what you need. I’ll be what you need and more. No, you won’t. And you shouldn’t. You shouldn’t have to change a single thing about who you are to please somebody else. Be exactly who you are and change when you see value in it; not when someone doesn’t value you for your many qualities present day. See them for who they are to you. How much of your influence could change them for the better? Not very much, I’m sure. And sadly, when the name-calling becomes common place amongst conversations, that says more about the person than it does about you. We all project what we see, good and bad. In moments of anger, a person’s insecurities come to the forefront when they are unable to rationally speak with the objective to solution. Both parties say things they don’t mean, but there has to be some underlying truth with the words exchanged.
Then you feel guilty which relents back to the “happier days.” This side of yourself feels intense pain even when you feel justified. It is a part that keeps you from moving onward because you’re anchoring yourself to what was (which was more than likely fabricated in your mind to begin with), not what is. This was, for me, the hardest side of myself because I care so much. Sometimes, I care too much. I would look back at pictures and think, I miss him so much. What have I done? Why did I act that way? Did I abandon this relationship? How could I? It’s all my fault. But then, it takes two to tango. Amy Lee once sang, “How could I have burned paradise? How could I? You were never mine.” No one is yours, and you are nobody’s. You make choices based on what is presented to you at the time. Quit blaming yourself.
The anger stage was the easiest to push through for me. I kept telling myself, “don’t hate things. Don’t hate people or even just one person, but be mad if it makes it easier to move on,” and it did. I hate him! I will never love him again. How dare he? Who does he think he is? I will never allow anyone to do to me what he has done. I was furious. I never wanted to speak on the subject again. I wanted to erase all ties between those memories and present day. Then I found an outlet in my writing and in conversation, and it was easier to let the anger outward instead of bottling it inside. It felt good releasing these demons in those ways.
There’s the depressed stage where you’re haunted by memories, sounds, pictures, phone numbers or even their name. If my phone hadn’t completely crapped out on me have to be replaced, I would have held on to so much more during that time which would have prevented me from moving forward. It took me disappearing from the many forms of contact and challenging myself not to seek what was happening elsewhere for me to realize something. “I am stronger and, more importantly, better for walking away. Take this time for yourself, Mathieu.” He may not miss me, but one day, he will. He’ll see me in his dreams. He’ll think of me in passing. He may even reach out, but by that time, it will be too late. I’m already gone. You’ve lost me. So please, don’t come back for me. Don’t come back at all.
Finally, there is acceptance. It’s really over. What we had was never eternal. You and I shared moments, some of which were wonderful. I wouldn’t change a thing. I see now, though, that we just aren’t good for each other. We were not meant to share forever. It’s best this way. I just want peace. That’s precisely where I’m at. I just want peace. I don’t dream about all the fights or losing him anymore. We already experienced that in real time. I find time spent where I’m lost in the thoughts of what is happening rather than what happened. You have finally dealt with things. There is nothing left to say. Nothing left to do but carry yourself to the finish line. What’s waiting there are a lot of people who love you and support you and were there all along. These are the people you should keep in your life.
And you will find love again. I have found love again. I found love within myself. I am worthy of love. I have so much of it to give someone else, and to whomever that may be, whenever that may be, will he be lucky to have found me. I, too, will be lucky to have found him. Together, we’ll share memories, have ups and downs, laugh, go places, cook for each other… you name it. But overall, my hope is that we will live in the present, be honest with each other, communicate often, and remember that everything we have is temporary. In an instant, everything can vanish. I learned that the hard way this year. The end of my first love. Vanished. (But for the better.)
I thought I would lose who I was during this process. On the flip side, I learned a side of myself only gained from experiencing this pain. I know who I am now. I know who I want to keep around. I know what I will and will not accept. And more importantly, I know how to love myself again and give that to others in a way that is intrinsically mine alone.
You were my lesson I had to learn. I was your fortress you had to burn.