“You apologized a lot, for all kinds of silly little things, but never about anything real. Never for hurting me.”
by Haven Strange
It’s been too long since I’ve been in your arms. Too long since we fit together like a puzzle. But it hasn’t been long enough for the good to make me smile again. The beauty that surrounds is still blurred from the chronic shade of tears.
I loved you so hard. I rode the sweet wave of your affection and felt like royalty from your attentive gestures. You spoiled me. And I relished in it. I could look around the room and smile inwardly, knowing my man was the very best one, and no woman was cherished as deeply as I was.
When I fell in love with you, it was so natural and right. I couldn’t not fall for you. You told me you couldn’t believe I chose you but, damn, I couldn’t believe you were not taken and held onto tight. I couldn’t believe you, this treasure, this hard working, protective, and virile specimen of a man was mine. I felt the energy of your love in your very touch. Permeating me to my very core. Filling me deep with a satisfying and comforting happiness.
When you asked where my favorite place in the world is, my answer came fast and without thought.
In your arms.
I wasn’t just saying that.
The whole world melted away when I was in your arms. Nothing else mattered.
And the little things. Oh, I loved the little things. The “little things” you did, seemingly instinctually, meant so much. You don’t even know. Sweet little midday texts. The movie that I mentioned in passing. These little things that made me know you thought about me. You listened to me. Especially the things I didn’t even know I needed or wanted. But you did.
I opened all of me to you. I let you in. I trusted you as I have no other. I gave all of me to you, without hesitation. I promised you my all. I gave you my life.
I cared deeply from the very beginning. You meant the world to me. I wanted to take care of you. To hold you so tight all the past pain would melt away. You were my everything. You were my treasure. We joked that Loki, the God of Chaos, finally realized we had each been thru more than enough pain and heartache, and actually felt embarrassed. So he led us to meet as gifts for one another in reparation for his masochistic follies. You truly felt like a gift. The gift I didn’t even know I wanted, but would never do anything to jeopardize.
You were my last first kiss.
It’s so hard to watch. You are a beautiful, generous soul. You have a gift for making people smile and laugh. You have so much to offer. You are so much more. It’s hard being forced to watch you destroy this beautiful life. We had that Once in a Lifetime love. The kind that you believe is fairytales and folklore until you actually have it. The kind you know you’ll never find again.
It’s difficult to not take it personally. After I allowed myself to realize, I believed I could be “enough.” I felt if I loved you harder and supported you and showed you patience, we could overcome any of life’s challenges. I envisioned growing old with you. Your self-esteem was so low that your views of yourself physically hurt me. I brought you up and reminded you daily of how special and worthy and deserving and wonderful you are. I never asked for anything. I forgave you. Over and over. No matter how bad it hurt. I gave you one more chance, again and again. You apologized a lot, for all kinds of silly little things, but never about anything real. Never for hurting me.
I took it personally. I cried more days than not. And I kept allowing this. Any time I shared my feelings or even hinted that I was hurt, it was twisted to where it became me wronging you. You could be mean and hurt my feelings but you switch it around to where you were the one hurt. And I would feel bad. I would apologize. My feelings were never valid. Your overreactions when I had a concern, or wanted something, were more painful than me not getting what I needed, so I learned to shut up real quick.
I let you have all you want. I let you take and take, with only what you decided you thought I wanted in return.
Because of “love”.
I had to become aware and careful of the words I chose and their tense and context. One wrong choice and I would be punished with the silent treatment, followed by hours or days or weeks of consoling you because somehow it always became about you. You never cared that my feelings had been hurt- you twisted it so your feeling were hurt. And spend days bringing you up and caressing your hurt feelings, while I cried alone.
I finally allowed myself to realize it’s not a relationship when it’s only on one persons terms. I was gave and gave and the little I got in return was only what you wanted to give. It had to be your idea, not what I truly wanted. I tried to be patient and supportive and remind myself you were abused before. You were unaware of what a healthy relationship felt like. I would whisper the words “addiction” and “not his fault” and “he doesn’t know better” to my subconscious. But when does it become your fault? When will you know better? I showed you every day… At what point do you stop and realize the pain you cause, and stop looking at yourself and look at me for a change? Wipe away my tears and comfort me?
I’ve never felt more alone. How can you feel alone in a relationship, I kept asking myself? I felt alone because I was alone. Your relationship with drugs left me the third wheel. I lost myself. It was always about you. Always on your terms. I was left sad, confused, and scared.
And all alone.
Physical touch was withheld to manipulate me. Silent treatment when you knew you did something. I asked what I’d done wrong in the relationship. You said absolutely nothing.
So why did you twist everything to make me the one who wronged you?
I came up with a term for myself. “Convenience Whore.” You were charming and loving and affectionate when you wanted something. Then could easily go days without even thinking of me, until you needed something again. It’s a heartbreaking and unhealthy cycle. And each time I would tell myself “one last time and I’m done.” Until the next time I’d say “this is it- last chance.”
Because I loved you more than anything..
I lost my self respect. I threw it out, rather. I knew better. I disregarded my feelings by allowing your Ego to disregard my feelings.
I see now why you did this to me. I was an easy target. I cared for you so much I would have done anything for you. And the addict brain takes all they can get from those closest and dearest to them.
It’s hard not taking it personally. In fact, it’s impossible. You said you’d never lie, cheat, or steal. You promised to always take care of my heart. Your vicious blades cut pieces from me.
It’s difficult loving an addict. Life revolves around lies. Lies and omission is the natural state. About even the most seemingly inconsequential things. Dishonesty and sneaking is ingrained at their very core.
Of course I took it personally. I knew what was going on, I felt it. It stung like hell. Every time. And the lies and omissions were always over things I would never have even gotten angry about. But the chemicals in drugs change the brain’s neuro-connections and pathways. You seem normal to yourself while everyone around you can clearly see the difference. Your excuses were of such poor quality but… love blinds.
I loved you. I still love you. Love is not something that can go away. Not if it’s real. Even knowing that you used me and manipulated me, I still think of you all the time, just as I always have. Even though your Ego twisted everything and disregarded my feelings, I miss you something fierce and would do anything for you to gently and intensely consume my soul with your look. And even though I know you allowed your chemical mistress to push me out and make me the third wheel, I still imagine you sweeping into my heart and making everything right again.
Did I become the third wheel, or was I the mistress the entire time?
I still cherish you. I know you are a treasure, and I even miss lifting your soul up where I always knew it belonged.
You broke me.
But the pieces of my shattered heart will always love you.
Haven Strange is a fiction and nonfiction author and radio personality. She is a survivor of abuse, abduction and attempted murder, and forced homelessness. Her soon to be published memoir delves into these traumatic incidents and the profound effects upon her and her children.
When not weaving words and creating worlds, Haven is a Homeless Advocate, Urban Youth Director, Rescue Home operator, and hosts creative writing workshops for children and teens. An avid traveler with a home base in the Pacific Northwest, on her rare days of relaxation you can find her riding horses and adventuring off the beaten path.