I realize it could've been worse, that "it's better to find out now than later on down the road" that things aren't working. I still don't really know why this happened to me and I'm not sure I ever really will either.
The best place to start is a little over a year ago. It was spring and I was deployed. I wasn't sleeping much but did what I could with the free time I had.
One day, a man who I'll call *Michael sent me a friend request on Facebook. I didn’t recognize the picture or the name but noticed we had at least 5 mutual friends.
I eventually got around to messaging him to ask him if we'd met before. He said we hadn't but seemed friendly. I was cautious, having been dumped prior to deploying. I wasn't interested in being swooned, but his charm was undeniably present.
I did my best to be polite during small talk but kept up a wall. He mostly initiated conversations but I would occasionally reach out. We talked about our interests, our exes, and our dreams. He seemed genuine and said he wanted to take me out to dinner when I got back to San Diego.
I half- heartedly agreed, August came, and a week after I got back he picked me up from my house.
We decided on an upscale pizza restaurant that we both liked. Things went smoothly, his demeanor was warm, and he was more handsome in person. I still had a wall up but found it easier to talk to him each time.
We continued to talk and go out until one morning in September after a night of drinking I asked him to be my boyfriend. I figured, "I've been hurt before. What do I have to lose?"
The months sailed by like an effortless dream. He told me he loved me and I fell for him not long after. We developed rituals of cuddling after work, walking his dog together, going to our favorite coffee shop, going to our favorite steakhouse, we even took an amazing road trip up Highway 1 together.
In January, Michael moved in with me. It was a big step but we agreed since my place was bigger and there was more room for the dog. He also wanted to help me save money since I would be relocating to Virginia in the summer for my job. We had already agreed on doing long distance as well. By this point, we had also talked about and even tried to have a kid.
Everything continued to be a fairytale. I started cooking for him, doing his laundry, I cleaned, bought groceries, took care of the dog when he had to work late or leave town. My whole life became about making his happy and easy.
The day came for me to leave on June 1st. It was a sad, hard day. We had spent a good 30 minutes holding each other and crying the night before. We reassured each other, like we had so many times before, that we would indeed be "making it work no matter what."
I promised to let him know I was safe each day. I let him kiss me one last time, watched him walk out of our bedroom one last time, got dressed, packed up a few last things, hugged the dog one last time, and then hit the road.
I barreled through the Southwest with everything I owned in my Civic. I went to meet his Mom when I was in Texas, stayed at 4 star hotels, enjoyed all the amazing Southern cuisine I'd missed so dearly, and even went to St. Louis Cathedral in New Orleans where I said a prayer for us (I never pray).
I was sad about being apart from him but I had faith that we would survive so I continued to enjoy myself.
About a week after I'd moved, I was visiting family in Alabama when he texted me. I had a bad feeling but prodded. He spilled that two days prior he had made out with another girl while at a rave. I was devastated. I hadn't even been gone a week. He told me it was a mistake and that he hoped it would make us stronger. I forgave him and we agreed to work through it.
The next week would be a vicious cycle of me trying to communicate with him and him being busy and wanting to be alone. I tried to respect that but I knew there was more to it.
Finally, on the night of our 9-month anniversary my almost 28-year-old boyfriend dumped me via text from 2,720 miles away. The next day he told me there was someone else. He later confirmed that it was the girl from the rave.
For the first three days I was single, I didn't eat and barely slept.
For weeks, I felt paralyzed by sadness. Even after I'd deleted every picture, every text, every email, every song that reminded me of him, and gotten rid of every gift he'd given me, I still struggled to function.
Being in public was hard. The smallest things were triggers for an anxiety attack and would sneak up on me at the worst times. Seeing anything wedding-related, the mention of Star Wars, the mention of whiskey, anytime a Death Cab for Cutie song came on the radio, the names of certain authors, the whole subculture surrounding EDM made me pull over while I was driving or camp out in the bathroom at work just so I could cry my eyes out.
Through all my sadness, I still tried to rationalize and grasp for a way to fix our relationship.
After all, I still loved him and I wanted to keep up my end of the deal by "making it work no matter what.. He gave me every reason in the book. "I just want to be alone," "I don't know what I want," "I fell out of love with you," "I need to find myself," "She likes all the same shows/video games/etc. as I do," "She's athletic," "She's just filling a gap," but then she wasn't.
In a month, my boyfriend went from wanting to marry and have kids with me to wanting to "take it slow" with an unemployed 19-year-old girl he met at a rave.
I later found out that he'd lied about more than a few things. Some of them related to us, some of them just about him. None of it mattered after it was all said and done.
I had grieved over losing someone who had forgotten about every good thing I did for them, who didn't care that I would wait for him even if it meant more heartbreak.
In a last ditch effort, I stealthily creeped and found the other girl on Facebook. I sent her a message to let her know I still had feelings for and had invested a lot into my relationship with *Michael.
We were civil but I realized that it didn't matter. If someone really wants something they will pursue it, even at the expense of others.
So far, this summer has kicked my ass. I lost someone I didn't think I could ever live without. I learned how to enjoy being alone again, even though I had to force it at first. It forced me to reach out to people I normally wouldn't have and to embrace my silly, crass sense of humor I masked in an effort to be more "ladylike."
I took up painting again, something I hadn't done since high school. I started showing my cleavage when I went out and started to flirt with men and women again. I visited a life coach. I even submitted a few photos for the 'Miss Virginia Beach Pin-up Girl Contest'!
I've been told that you never really get closure when something like this happens. I'm not sure how true that is. Even though I no longer cry myself to sleep, it still feels like a slap in the face.
I've had to accept that it's not my job to save, change, or love people if they don't want those things. If someone has wronged you after you've done everything right, you will always have the satisfaction of knowing you were the bigger person. My only sense of peace, because I genuinely believe it, is that the universe takes care of everything in time.
*Names have been changed for privacy reasons.