When we first began this courtship, I wasn't looking for anything...certainly not anything serious. A casual conversation, some flirty dinners, maybe a show or two. I was already in a good place, I didn't think I needed much more. But you seduced me like no other, and I fell hard and fast. You were a shiny new toy, like the one you opened Christmas morning, and couldn't wait to play with every morning after that.
That feeling really never changed for me. And after all we've been through together, after all this time, I never saw it ending like this. But it has. You made the choice for me. You've forced me to move on from something I didn't want to move on from.
I loved you in my life...I loved you WITH my life. Despite the cracks in our foundation, I fully believed we could build a structurally sound future together. I knew full on it would take an inordinate amount of work, but I wanted it. However many nails and saws, trips to the hardware store, and blueprint revisions it would take, I was in. You were too. Your goals and dreams became mine. I never talked about it, but even with the doubts, I saw it taking shape. In fact, I incorporated every aspect of my very being into how you would factor in: I changed my values, shifted my focus, and started to erect a vision based on the fragile bones of our humble beginnings.
Oh and what a beautiful, emotionally exciting beginning it was! The highs were unbelievably high -- insurmountable. At times, I had to step back and catch my breath -- Is this really happening? How did I get so lucky?!? I met some of the most wonderful people with you; people I still love with all my heart to this day. I experienced things with you I had only dreamed of. In time, I reconsidered things I was SURE would never even be on my radar. Good God, I loved you. I was high; you were my drug. Like any addict I went back for more, time and again, even when you pushed me away. Some might call it an abusive relationship. I called it worth fighting for.
And the challenges? I embraced and even welcomed them -- they made it all feel worthy. And when the challenges began to feel like personal vendettas, I questioned myself. A good day in my world could never really be celebrated, as it was often met with your world not doing so hot. I didn't want to be selfish, so I would put my fleeting and rare moments of confidence aside, and instead focused on how I could help you succeed. Sometimes my advice was met with gratitude and validation. Other times, with disdain, cynicism, and a "how-dare-you-you-don't-know-what-you're-talking-about" attitude. My intentions were nothing but pure with a focus on the team's success, but I was accused of boundary-stepping and inappropriate conduct.
Yet I pressed on.
I continued to give 110% to the best of my abilities, and was rewarded with 30% less than those below my pay grade. You never saw it, but I sacrificed friendships, time with loved ones, and time for myself to make this work. While I was busy worrying about us, you were busy taking me for granted. But I never considered myself a victim of circumstance -- I was the one who willingly put myself in this position. You couldn't possibly have known what I went through to get there, you never asked. So I wouldn't give up; surely my unrelenting tenacity would one day be compensated. I was following the rules, doing everything you asked, even when it didn't feel right. Your refusal to acknowledge the benefits of my loyalty wasn't going to make me any less loyal. Doing so on my part would require me to shake the magnets of my moral compass, and I wasn't about to violate my own convictions.
When friends and family gave me shit for my sticking around, I balked at their misunderstanding of our goals. Their flawed interpretation of my reality made me want it MORE. I'd show them! And when rejection came again, the public embarrassment of EVERYONE knowing of my failure was internally crippling. Every condolence, while appreciated, chipped away at the core of who I thought I was. It was humiliating. My identity was being stripped away before my eyes, and there was nothing I could do about it. And it hurt to feel you didn't care what you so casually left in the wake.
So many now are attempting to force me into submission with messages of "You're so much better off now, you really dodged a bullet". They "remind" me that I was never fully heard or respected, like I never knew it all along. They tell me I'll sail through this storm, and come out stronger, more empowered, and they assure me that you'll see the fallacy of greener grass. Like my dad used to tell me, "The grass is always greener on the other side, but ya still gotta mow the fucking lawn."
I have missed you every day since you forced my hand. I'm certain I always will. I still feel you like a phantom appendage. Flecks of you will always circulate in my blood, as you were my life force. My own shadow is altered because it now carries the silhouette of you beside me. I'm insanely jealous of those who still have you in their lives. I'll probably always want you to return my adoration, but until then, I'm walking away. I can't say with any honesty that I'm completely closing the book; there's no rule that says you can't re-read your favorite chapter a few times. And you were just that...my favorite.
I'm angry. I'm disappointed. I'm confused. I'm offended. I'm terrified. I'm mourning, but I'm not bitter. I can't be...I love you. It's been 20 years. I'm not over you, radio, but I have to move on. I've met someone new. Surprisingly, they're very similar to you in many ways. They, too, have offered me a shiny new toy, and I'm very attracted. I realize it may lose its luster with time, but now I'm better equipped to know when to hold 'em, when to fold 'em.
Until next time.