A year ago today, my boyfriend of two-and-a-half years and I broke up.
I had known for months that things weren't working. But this person had been my best friend, my source of comfort for two-and-a-half years.
When I was diagnosed with a plethora of health problems, he had sat with me entire nights in the emergency room holding my hand while I waited for test results. He had been loving and sweet to me at a time when I truly needed it.
Would anyone else be there for me the way that a boyfriend would?
Still, I saw the break-up coming. He'd blown me off a week before and we hadn't talked since. We didn't even care enough to fight. We both knew it was over.
He called me at around 11 p.m. and I paused my binge-watch of New Girl to answer. We talked for 20 minutes, both expressed how unhappy we'd been and agreed that we'd always known we weren't a forever couple.
We were friendly. I was glad we could end things in a way that respected and honored what we had had together.
I texted a few friends, spoke on the phone to one, then stood in the middle of my kitchen and forced myself to really process the gravity of the situation. I cried, mourning the imminent absence of a person who had been a constant in my life for years, mourning a life that was about to change.
The crying didn't last long, I blew my nose and promptly returned to New Girl.
The next day, and for the next few weeks, I was fine. Better than fine. A huge weight had been lifted off of my shoulders.
I no longer had to worry about anyone but myself. I had the time and impetus to renew friendships I'd let fall to the wayside for various reasons. It was great. I felt free. Until.
Less than a month later, I got a text from a mutual friend asking about this girl who had started showing up in pictures with my ex.
Being a person in her 20s with access to social media, I fell into the trap and Facebook-stalked my ex for the first time since the end.
There they were, multiple pictures dating back to mere days after we had broken up. I clicked on her page and was horrified to learn that they had met WEEKS prior to the break-up.
My ex had been picking up girls before we'd even ended our relationship. He'd cheated on his sickly girlfriend and didn't even have the consideration to hide it from me.
Humiliation is a funny thing, especially with the infiltration of social media into every aspect of our lives. It was humiliating to be forgotten so easily after being with someone for so long and what made it even worse was that it was right out there, presented to all of my friends on a platter: Allie's boyfriend had moved on before they were even broken up.
I was devastated. I didn't want to be, didn't choose to be. I tried to find the sense of freedom and happiness that I'd had before, but I couldn't.
I told myself over and over again that we had been unhappy. That I was better off without him. But the sense of betrayal was almost palpable. He'd shown me such little regard.
When our mutual friend confronted him to let him know how tacky it was for him to be plastering his new relationship all over social media less than a week after our break-up, his response was merely "K."
I had wasted two-and-a-half years of my life with someone who, when it came down to it, was not the person I thought he was.
The signs had always been there. He’d unapologetically arrive two hours late any time I arranged fun plans for us and then when we did go out, he’d complain about the price the entire time. He didn’t get me anything for my 26 birthday and seemed surprised when I was hurt. Right before his 31st birthday, I discovered he didn't brush his teeth every day.
“I only brush them when they feel dirty,” he told me. Barf. This was not the behavior of a mature man.
I knew I had two options to battle the sinking feeling inside: I could give in, drink, cry, hook up. Or I could fight back. I chose the latter.
I used my poor bruised ego as fuel and began to eat right and work out. I stopped drinking. I started writing more.
The best revenge is living well and I wanted to personify that. But I had no desire whatsoever to date. I wanted to focus on me. I wanted to focus on being a better me, the best me. Cheesy. But effective.
After about four months, I felt great. I had gotten into much better shape (mentally and physically), gotten much closer with my wonderful friends, and felt like maaaaybe I could stomach the idea of starting to casually date again.
I have never been someone to jump from relationship to relationship, preferring to have gaps of at least a year in between. But I figured since you gotta go through about 100 bad dates to have one even semi-decent one, why not start the process now?
I joined all the dating apps that had come about during my hiatus from singledom and weeded through the cavalcade of "Nice tits" messages to find the nice guys. And then the unexpected happened.
Four months after my first big break-up, I found the partner of my dreams. From the moment we met, I felt the thing that had been missing throughout my entire relationship with my ex, from every relationship I had ever had before.
That indescribable feeling of complete compatibility, the comfort of having a perfect connection with your perfect person.
When I was walking to my first date with my now boyfriend, I had a mindset I'd never had before. Sure I was nervous, but nowhere near my usual level of pre-date anxiety.
"Who cares if this guy likes me?" I thought. "I need to figure out if I like him." (Spoiler alert: I do.)
I didn’t have to chase him down, we didn’t have to play games. When you find the right person, everything is so easy.
I’ve never loved someone the way I love him: fully, completely, and with my whole heart. When we fight, it’s because we care enough to fight. We make each other laugh to the point of tears. We put each other first whenever possible.
He is truly the cherry on top of the sundae of my life. Hell, he's the whipped cream and hot fudge too. But not the nuts, that’s gross.
In a funny way, I have my ex to thank for leading me down this road. If I hadn't decided to Facebook stalk him, I don't know if I would have been jolted back to reality.
When I realized how much energy I had put into another person only to receive virtually nothing back, it changed me. I felt like I woke up from a deep sleep.
It drove me to become a better person, a person who likes herself and does things to improve her own life rather than just letting it pass by. A person who could be happy being alone, but who is worthy of a truly great partner.
Today, not only am I truly, madly, deeply in love for the first time, I am falling in love with me. So, the next time you are going through a rough patch and you have two choices — to give in or to fight back — I suggest you fight back.
It was a tough road, but if any step of my journey had been different, I wouldn't have wound up where I am today.