It has been almost eight years since we first met, which means that it has been almost eight years since I lost myself.
Eight years is a very long time to be looking in the mirror and not be able to recognise yourself. That’s 96 months of waking up with you inside of my head. And almost 2,920 days spent wondering when will be the day that I am finally free from you.
When will be the day that I wake up, and I see myself without the darkness of your abuse looming over me?
When will be the day that I finally return home to myself?
I often think about who I could have been if I had never met you.
What would my last two years of college have been like without having you there to belittle me?
Would I have more photos from my final semester because I would have spent less time apologising to you, and more time making the most of an experience I will never be able to get back?
Would I have spent more time focusing on creating the life I wanted. rather than trying to fit myself into one I was never meant to be in, in the first place?
I could spend all day dreaming of the life I could be living if I had never met you. Or if I would have left you the first time your true colours showed. But I stayed and I stayed and I stayed, because I wanted so badly for us to work out. I wanted so badly to not be alone.
I was never really the one anyone wanted to be in an actual relationship with before I met you. You wanted me all to yourself, and you promised me forever before I even thought that was what I wanted.
For the first time, in a very long time, someone chose me.
Over and over and over again, you chose me.
When you have spent your entire life waiting for someone to notice you, it is so difficult not to jump into the arms of the first person who showers you with the love you have always been so desperately craving.
I spent so many years wishing to meet someone who wanted to be mine forever; and now I fear that I will spend the rest of my life wondering when this forever you cast on me will finally end.
We have not spoken in five years. Five years is a long time to not be over a relationship, but eight years? Eight years is a very long time to be tormented by one person.
You do not even have to speak to me to cause me pain. You are in my dreams; and you are my nightmares. You are what is holding me back from doing so much more in my life. You are the reason I feel so small.
I have tried to date again. I have had successes and utter failures, but no matter how many other hands I try to hold or mouths I try to kiss, it is always you that I cannot get out of my head. Everything always comes back to you.
You are often the first thing I think of when I wake up in the morning; and the last thing I think of before I fall asleep at night. There are songs I cannot listen to without them reminding me of you. There are places I fear I will never be able to return to; because when I think of them, all I see is you. There are jobs I cannot take and interviews I have had to cancel because they became reminders of the life you tried to create for me. Even every cup of coffee I drink always seems to lead me back to you.
Maybe my own anxiety amplifies these feelings, or maybe they really are just this devastating.
You wreaked havoc on my life, and I am struggling so hard to keep my head above water and not drown in all of the pain you left me in.
I am not one to blame all of my problems on other people. I know that a relationship has two people in it; and I know that I was not always the perfect partner to be with. But what I do know after spending all of these years trying to understand how I could have let this happen to myself is that your abuse was not my fault.
There is nothing that I did to deserve the way you treated me.
No relationship should be kept intact by one person living in a constant state of fear. No one should be walking on eggshells just to try to make it through the day without a fight. And no one should ever be spoken to in the way that you so often chose to speak to me. No one deserves to be abused.
See, I never realised while we were together just how much power you truly had over me and my decisions. I never realised how much I was just a lost puzzle piece that you were so desperately trying to fit into a place that I did not belong. I was convinced that I was in love; and that the life you had to offer me was the life that I wanted, and the life that I deserved.
It was not until I finally broke free of your grasp that I realised how much more there was to life than I had been made to believe. It was like I was opening my eyes for the first time; and I could not believe the richness of the world around me. I could not believe the multitude of paths laid out before me; and how wonderful it felt to choose the ones I wanted without fear of reprimand from you.
It has been five years since I left you, and almost eight years since we first met. I have not found my person yet or even the path that suits me best, but I know that in time, I will find my perfect fit.
What you have taught me is that just because you love someone, does not mean that they are right for you. And just because you love someone does not mean that you should lose yourself to them. Compromise is important and necessary, but losing yourself to try to secure your place in someone else’s world is no way to live your life.
Maybe you have had the last eight years of my life, but that does not mean that you are entitled to any more.
Maybe today is the beginning of my rebirth; of finding the place and the people who feel like home.
Maybe this is day one of finally living my life without you.
You can keep those last eight years, but my forever is mine and mine alone.