It’s August 20th. It’s 2am and Kevin wants me to go to bed but I’m stubborn and say I want to finish assembling an Ikea furniture. He gets mad and falls asleep. Out of the two and a half years that we have been together, he has never been the first one to fall asleep. I’d always beat him to it. He’d run his fingers gently through my hair, kiss my back very softly then he’d get into deep talks with the Sleeping Laura, as he enjoyed calling me. Every morning, he’d faithfully report those funny conversations to me. He used to love the Sleeping Laura because she’d always talk nonsense and grumble whenever the light touching would stop.
That night, he never got to tell me stories. I never got to let him lull me to sleep. Instead, I dig up the ugliest truth and the love I thought I knew vanished in the blink of an eye. I felt helpless. I had just become hopelessly broken. I went out in the middle of the road and wandered barefoot, trying to figure out how to breathe but I physically couldn’t. Every single step was slowly yet sharply killing me. My whole world had collapsed and as hard as I tried to understand it, it made no sense. I spent weeks wondering what went wrong, asking myself why I wasn’t enough. I genuinely felt like I had failed us by not being enough. I couldn’t eat nor sleep, I’d break down in tears every single minute of every day. I was going nowhere.
Our relationship had been withering away because we were growing up to become too different. I wanted to travel the world. He wanted to get a better job and earn more money. We’d despise each other’s aspirations. I’d preach vulnerability and letting our emotions out, but he’d be too scared to allow me in and so he’d withdraw into himself. He suffered from depression so we had decided to battle against it together. As a team, because that’s what we were. He was my panda bear. I was his sand shrimp.
We fought against all odds in the name of Love. Our love was the one thing that made sense. It was an entity I never doubted, and so I wouldn’t let it burn down. I knew just how good he was, and I was bent on proving it to him. I would not give up on us. I’d tell him I loved him everyday. I’d be my silly self and pretend I was a bloodthirsty zombie until he had to start running for his life. I’d catch him up and he’d burst out laughing then he’d look into my eyes, smile and kiss me. All of this felt so incredibly real to me.
Until it wasn’t. And maybe it never was. But it’s been seven weeks now and aside from the messy crying, I’d like to believe I’ve grown just a tiny bit. He may have never loved me. He lied and cheated and he will never be the boy I fell in love with again. Our love has come and gone, and as much as I wanted us to grow old together, it’s time for me to let it go. It’s nowhere near easy. It’s actually the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do. There are days I just want to crawl into my bed and numb the pain until I’m no longer able to feel. Days I wish I had never met him so I never had to watch our love dissolve so abruptly. Days I hate him for giving up on us. Days I love him and would do anything to have us back.
Then there are brighter days where there’s no us anymore and it’s alright. Someone I hold close to my heart once said to me ‘it doesn’t always have to be bad’. I said nothing but felt disowned. I was heartbroken and it had to be bad. It had to be dramatically irreversible. It had always been like this with me. Feeling everything fully. Knowing no balance.
No matter how overwhelming they get sometimes, these emotions are what makes me feel alive. They’re the reason why after backpacking all around Europe, I just booked a ticket to Indonesia. They’re the reason why I’ll be working in an orphanage someday soon in Africa. They’re the reason why I run around barefoot on an Irish island, happily screaming, my feet covered in sheep poop. They’re the reason I throw myself into the ocean all dressed up just so I can swim with seals. They’re the reason I stop on the street to take pictures of a homeless man, before sitting with him and listening to the stories he tells me. They’re the reason I approach strangers and tell them they’re beautiful. They’re the reason I kept on trying to stand up on that bloody surfboard in Portugal.
The waves of unworthiness and grief come crashing over me, and I do sink at times, but I’m going to stand up again. I’m not giving up. I’ll be catching the most beautifully ravaging waves, and it’s all because I’m alive. I’m truly, remarkably, passionately alive. We all are. And we have to believe with all our hearts that we’re going to do wonders. We’re going to take risks. We’re going to chase our dreams. We’re going to make mistakes. Lots of it. We’ll learn from them, then we’ll make some more. We’re going to love madly. We’ll pour our heart and soul into it, because Love is all. We’ll experience everything : the pure utter joy, the heart-wrenching pain, the soothing beams of hope. We’ll seek truth within ourselves and practice gratitude. We’ll cultivate and nurture a deep sense of love for ourselves. We won’t ever stop growing.
(Myself, photographed by the amazingly talented and sweet Whitney Justesen)