A few years ago, I met a man who ended up changing my life in ways I never could have imagined. The more time we spent together, the more I got hooked, all without even realizing it. It was as if one day I woke up and my physical body craved the mere presence of his. Just his company sent me into happiness-overload.
He was the only man, who I saw romantically, who created a desire within myself for self-improvement. His love for what he did made me want to better myself. I wanted to be impressive. For myself. And for him. I remember wanting so badly to be amazing in all facets so he would fall head-over-heels for me.
Fueled by that desire, I packed up my belongings and moved out of my parent's home. I wanted to show him that I was an independent woman who could support herself. I wanted to show him how sexy I was by being able to hold my own. While unloading supplies in my new kitchen, I fantasized about the meals I would cook him, despite the fact that I abhorred cooking. I even went so far as to purchase the most adorable apron I could find. I left specifically chosen nooks in my home empty, leaving those spaces reserved for him to one day add his own touches. I wanted him to make my home just as much his as it was mine. Everything I did, I did for him.
And things were great while they lasted. I loved him. My only fault was not telling him. I was the most selfless of lovers, but I loved in an inauthentic way; never opening up meant I never had to let myself become vulnerable. We never talked about our feelings or what intentions we had for one another. I enjoyed his company so much and I didn't want to rock the boat by looking too interested or too available. I didn't want him to feel as if the chase was over. So instead I played it cool, even a little cold, so that I wouldn't blow my cover. So that he wouldn't know just how exquisite I thought he was.
One week before my birthday, we got into an argument. We had been dating each other for over a year and I was bothered about not having an official title. I brought the concern up while we were being playful, laying in bed, and his reaction was not what I had expected. With eyes rolled and evidently annoyed, he shut down my proposal. “I hate titles Jessica. I don't see anyone but you. I'm a good guy. I don't do anything. Titles complicate things.” His adamance for not being boyfriend and girlfriend confused me. Shouldn't he want to call me his girlfriend? Isn't he proud of me? Am I wasting my time? Am I getting played by the man I love? I should have confronted him and asked these questions, but I was afraid of them being true so I suppressed my feelings of disappointment and betrayal and remained silent. He assured me I'd feel better after dinner. At the restaurant, we ordered for one because I didn't have an appetite. On our way back to the car, he stopped me in my tracks and hugged me long and hard, but I was already detached by then and his touch left me devoid of feelings.
The painful truth was that I wanted to be with him, but his intention was to remain casual. I felt like nothing more than a glorified booty call. While he slept that night, I laid wide-eyed, knowing I had to take some type of action. I got dressed and left his house without saying goodbye or kissing his forehead as I always did before leaving. My disappointment had turned into anger and I didn’t know how to handle the situation other than in a passive-aggressive way. On my way home, I remember feeling as if I hated him. Before falling asleep, I was relieved to be in my own bed and glad to be away from him. I slept peacefully, feeling triumphant even.
And the next morning, he never came after me. He never did. Not one call. Not even a birthday wish. He quickly moved on and I made the decision that I was not going to let that kill me despite the deep pain I felt. I was to move on with my life and hoped that one day I would be able to look back at my time with him as a period of growth instead of one of regret.
I suddenly found myself home alone. I no longer had him around to share my dinners and nights with. The home I had built for him - for us - was now just mine. And instead of a home, it felt more like a parasite, sucking the life out of me. I thought that he would be the great love of my life, but my bare walls reminded me that I was wrong. Every day I woke to him not by my side, I’d cry. I’d cry that loud, ugly-faced cry. I was worried for myself and prayed that the day I was able to find peace would come quickly. Shortly after, the tears would dry, I would get out of bed and carry on with my day.
Concerned about my wellbeing, my dearest of friends forced me to go with her to yoga, in the hopes I’d find solace in the practice, or that it would take my mind off of my heartbreak. One day at the end of a rather emotional yoga class, while laying in savasana, my teacher instructed that everyone rest their palms up for receiving. She asked that we imagine that our palms were cups being filled with grace sprinkling down from all around us and then said, "Whatever the present is, accept it as if you had chosen it." I nearly cried out loud with desperation. How was I to believe that all the pain I was enduring from his absence was what I wanted? How was I to believe that this was happening for me and not to me? How was I going to end up a stronger person? Impossible, I initially thought.
And then a switched turned on: this heartbreak wasn’t going anywhere. I could either sulk in sadness or I could accept it and trust that things will work out - that things will be better. I had never been a keen believer in the idea of fate, but suddenly I found myself hoping that maybe this was all supposed to happen. Maybe there was a reason for everything.
I’m always amazed by the ways in which the body can heal. Whether it be a deep gash or burn or tear, the body, given enough time, heals itself. I believe that goes for our minds as well. And in order for my emotional health to improve, I began to take care of it. I had been trying so hard to win the affection of another, I had ignored myself. I didn’t even know myself.
It took me going through that very low low to realize that I needed to care for myself. So with the same adoration and attention I had given him, I began to bestow care upon myself. And the first step was to make my home mine. I got rid of my old bedding and went on a home goods shopping spree. I added my own decor and made my space lively. I added more books to my shelves. Fresh flowers. Candles. I filled in the empty spaces I had left for him. That apron, tag still attached, is collecting dust who knows where. I still don’t cook. I upgraded my sound system and sometimes, at night, I turn up the music and have a dance party of my own. And that makes me happy. I’ve finally welcomed myself home with very loving arms.