I’ve never been here before

You keep reminding me that I’ve been here before. Like some sort of Captain of the Relationships, it’s my job to guide you through this. To tell you what and what not to do along the way, to give you the next steps.

The truth is, I’m just as lost as you.

Yes, I’ve been in long term relationships. I’ve been in love before. I’ve even considered a future with another person, however short term or ridiculous that future might have been. But I still haven’t been here.

Being here with you is new to me. Here means something different this time. You’re different from what I’m used to.

With you I feel free, and I’ve never quite felt that way with another person the way I do with you. There’s always been this burden or barrier in other relationships. But with you I don’t have to keep you a secret or keep any from you. I can see you every single day if I really wanted to. I can say anything, do anything.

Maybe it’s because I feel so free or maybe just because of you, but I’m happier with you than I’ve ever been. I’ve been happy before, don’t get me wrong, but never this consistently or for this long. There’s no shadows with you; everything lives under the sun. There’s nothing to hide from or be afraid of, since you probably already know all the worst things about me. I can just be impossibly happy – free from worry or doubt.

Being so happy is strange for me. It makes me do things I’ve never done before – like when I told you I loved you. I’ve never said ‘I love you’ to anyone first; I always waited for the other person to say it. Or they said ‘I love you’ and I said it back without knowing if I meant it or not. With you, I thought about it for weeks (maybe months) before I said it. I almost slipped so many times. I only wish I had said it a little closer to sober, but who knows if I ever would have said it without liquid courage.

Despite all of this, it still feels easy. Like we barely have to try. We misstep sometimes but we just correct each other and move on like we’ve been doing it forever. We handle deep dark secrets and deal-breakers as they come up, without making a big deal about it. Who says every important conversation has to start with “we need to talk”? We just drunkenly blurt out what needs to be said and the important things are heard and remembered the next morning. We tell each other what we need, in a language that would be considered blunt and rude and obscene by anyone else. But I’ve finally found someone who understands my tendency to be too reserved and too harsh at the same time and it just works for us. I don’t think I’ve ever once truly offended you and I don’t think I’ve been able to say that about anyone else.

I guess I don’t know where I was trying to go with this. I just wanted you to know that this is new for me, too. But I’m not scared anymore. I’m ready for whatever the next steps are, even if those steps are still unknown.

It’s been a year.

Even before Timehop reminded me, I knew today was the day. Even in it’s last days, March has never been kind to me.

A year ago today, I drove an hour to get dumped. Apparently around 10am it happened, and by noon I was already back in my college apartment planning a party for that evening. I drank tequila. I went to a bar I’d never been to. I danced. Some of my friends who live far away showed up for the occasion, proving they were still there for me, even if he wasn’t. Not that they had to prove anything, but it truly meant everything to me that they were there. I needed them that day, and they had my back. He never did shit like that for me.

I couldn’t even remember the last time I had been truly broken up with. He would occasionally break up with me for a week or so, but this was nothing like that. So the last time I was dumped would have been in high school, I guess. But I was usually the one to end relationships… so maybe eighth grade was the last time. Almost a decade ago.

I still don’t really know if I got my heart broken that day, though. Of course, I’m older now, but this didn’t feel like when my heart was broken the few times in high school. It hurt, of course, and I cried whenever I would try to talk about him, or think about him, or have to break the news to someone else… but after a few days of that, I just felt free. The anxiety I’d had for weeks or months that I thought was about graduation and job searching, was really about him. That relationship should have ended years ago.

It felt like I got divorced. It felt like I wasted the best four years of my life on someone who didn’t want to share anything with me, let alone give up anything for me. I missed legendary weekends with my  friends, because of him. It meant my dad was right, again. That this boy wasn’t willing to sacrifice anything for me, and yet I was always bending over backwards for him.

I judged the shit out of other people’s relationships. I thought I had the healthiest, most functional relationship, and thus the right to judge. We never fought, we had fun together, we liked the same shows. We had some hobbies in common, but also had our own interests. I thought those were all good things, that we didn’t need anything else, that he would eventually stop smoking. But it wasn’t that we didn’t fight because there was nothing to fight about – instead it was because we stopped communicating a long time ago. Those couples who always fought, at least they were telling each other how they felt. The ones who spent every waking moment together were obnoxious, but at least they knew each other.

I had plenty of things that were his, but none of them with any sentimental value. Always practical things – an old TV, some sweatpants I’d never seen him wear, a fucking wireless router. The normal things a girlfriend would have, things I always wanted, he barely let me touch. His college hoodie, mostly. I did have jewelry from him, I guess, but the chain to the necklace he gave me broke, and he never bothered to find me another one even though he promised he would.

I told him I didn’t want any of my stuff back. I still don’t know what he did with it. Maybe he threw everything away. Maybe, since he never cleans, those few possessions of mine are still there. I wonder what he thinks when he stumbles upon them while he’s looking for something else. I wonder how he told his parents. I wonder if they still ask about me the way my aunt or my grandparents will occasionally ask about him.

Months later, I was still breaking the news to people. Half a year later, I will have a bad day and be insanely mad at him, and myself, for putting me where I am now. About 10 months later, I was headed back home, driving the same roads I’d driven with him so many times. The weather had finally broken, I was driving with my windows down, and “Breakin’” by the All-American Rejects came on my iPod and it about killed me. I put the song on repeat and belted it all the way home.

All your tears
Couldnt match the bitter taste of all these wasted years

You take take
Everything that wasnt even yours
Wait wait
You dont got a hold of me anymore

And that’s the truth. He doesn’t get to me anymore, I’ve lost all romantic feelings for him months (maybe even years) ago. But it’s all those wasted years that still have the tightest hold on me. It’s the feelings I have about myself that still get to me. It’s the anger; the hot, burning kind of anger I thought I left behind with teenage angst, that gets to me.

So, it’s been a year. One hell of a year. I learned a lot. And I could have spent this weekend feeling bad about it, but I decided to be fearless instead. (More on that tomorrow…)