DEAR CUPID, my first love was a great love is a lost love. Our anniversary was Valentine’s Day and we decided to go it stealth at first sharing our first kiss with each other in the high school stairwell out of the prying eyes of our entourage. The three + year-long relationship outlasted those of our friends and even the legendary real life, off-screen associations of the time between Adam Brody and Rachel Bilson (Sethummer 4 ever). As per our fellow OC fans and shippers we were always more of a Sandy & Kirsten type of dynamic anyway for those who need to draw a parallel and who have a similar fond memory for the hands-down greatest piece of television pop-culture of the 2000s. We went public about two weeks later to nobody’s surprise and to this day the memories we shared are some of the most intense and happiest of my life.
Although we were young we dealt with things that most people aren’t faced with until much later in life. By this I mean that his mother had passed away three days before his fourteenth birthday, roughly two years before the day him and I would meet, and then in some cruel but interesting twist, a little over two years after that, my mum would follow the same fate. He was so composed about the whole thing. The experience of losing your mother gives you this sageness, or rather this extremely composed nature in the face of immense tragedy, almost a loss of innocence and brutal initiation into reality. I never really did lose my cool too much after it set in that she died, for the first little while at least. I had a mother four years longer than he did so I didn’t really grieve organically. I carried on with school and as my mum and I had been living in an apartment together when she passed I got a part time job to help pay the bills along with a stipend from her estate. I was glad to have someone who understood to the fullest extent what it was like to lose a parent so young, let alone your mother, but looking back now I really don’t know if I am better or worse off in my process of mourning given his influence and not in a bad way, just that maybe… I don’t know… maybe in some ways it was helpful to be so close to someone who had been through it before and maybe in other ways it wasn’t so helpful.
The relationship was at such a tender age for both of us as teenagers going through something so monumental yet at different stages together. I definitely loved him more than a healthy amount and still can’t help but crack a smile when I think of him and his voice and his laugh. Being with him is still the happiest I have ever been in my life, now twenty-eight, and I would absolutely give up feeling that euphoric ever again for the rest of my life to avoid the disappointment and agony that came with feeling things that deeply. (Unless there’s someone out there who wants to prove me wrong. Your move, gentlemen.)
After the initial shock of losing my mum wore off I was having a really hard time adjusting to life without her but trying to carry on as if everything was normal. I reached out to counsellors at my college and asked them for help. I would go to their offices and break down in sobs. Despite the recent loss of my mother and worrisome attitude, my cries for help that something was deeply wrong with me went unheard and it was brushed off as teenage angst and insecurity. Had I gotten the proper help that I needed back then my psychological well-being may not have become so detrimental that it became a public safety and personal health concern and maybe would have prevented itself from becoming a full blown severe mental health disorder down the line and possibly could have helped me avoid what was about to happen next.
He and I had been drifting for a while and when he said he wanted to take some time apart and hang with just the guys I told myself not to worry and definitely not be jealous. We had a healthy balance where we didn’t need to be with each other all the time, we just preferred it that we were and we had absolutely done our own things before. I wanted to believe that we were strong enough that phrasing some time apart in this way didn’t mean an impending doomsday for our relationship. When he came over to break up with me I began to cry uncontrollably and physically tried to keep him in my apartment by blocking the doorway. I grasped his arm and pulled him in with all my trembling body could muster. I didn’t want to believe it was over, and I didn’t until he said the words that broke my heart for what felt like would be forever:
“I don’t love you anymore.”
Hearing those words were one of the probably three biggest shocks of my life and the deepest pain I have ever felt. I may have lost my mother, but at least I knew that wherever she was, even if that be in the great lifeless void, I knew for sure that she still loved me. I still have a hard time believing his words to this day and that it wasn’t some escape strategy. Denial is powerful indeed but for the amount of respect we still have for each other even now ten years later and the level of dignity he treats me with after being an absolute wreck including a somewhat recent conversation in which he brought up just how happy some of those memories are and how he still chooses to focus on the positive that came out of us after it ended so disastrously… I just don’t believe that there’s no love there any more.
I know that I’ll always have the memories and those are mostly more than enough comfort to have even if I never fall in love again. There is a music critic that has started a “resist nostalgia” movement and by movement I mean he wrote it on social media and I at first felt personally attacked and then realized that I have stayed stagnant from holding onto the past so much so to the point of probably slowing down time and evolution. I decided to adopt this lifestyle and become his one-woman army, to a certain point, in my own life and live for the future. I may still have an affinity for the old days before personal computers and smartphones and social media were a thing but adapting, appreciating, looking forward to and helping create a better tomorrow is the only way we’re going to survive and letting go of the belief that what worked before will always is a huge step in the revolution. They say that the most expensive seven words in business are:
“Because that’s how we’ve always done it.”
The best example of this I can think of is old oil and new renewable energy. Sometimes fresh thinking just makes more sense and there are always more sustainable, friendly, and efficient ways to do things or at least that’s probably the one thing I’m optimistic about. I believe likewise love and marriage is similar. There is an evolution and a development and you are literally growing and changing with and separate from the people you surround yourself with. For this reason I would never want to be with him again. Most things aren’t meant to last forever and that’s probably a relief to everyone even that we ourselves aren’t the same for all our living days. Him and I are different people now and I absolutely would have loved to stay with him up to this point and forever after, but not anymore, not given everything that’s happened. It can be heartbreaking when a marriage or even just when two people who really love each other can’t make it work. I’ve largely been part of the belief that because of how fleeting everything is, especially time and moments with the ones we care about, we should hold onto them as much as possible and I can confidently say that this may be one of my unhealthiest habits. People don’t have to be toxic or bad people to be bad for you even if all intentions are honourable and despite the history you have together.
Before he left I raided the medicine cabinet and overdosed on whatever I could find in there. It was not my finest moment. As they say, love will mess you up more than drugs ever will. He called 911 and paramedics carried me struggling to escape down the three flights of stairs from my apartment building to and ambulance and he followed in a police car to the hospital. He sat with me until a family member showed up and we didn’t utter a word to each other that whole few hours or again after until five years later. My family still remembers it as me attempting suicide but it really wasn’t that simple. As true as it was that I actually factually didn’t want to live without him I think I was just reacting albeit irrationally to a huge piece of my world ending. To my credit it has been as life-altering and devastating all these years later as I had imagined it would be in that moment so I guess there’s that.
I was given a prescription for antidepressants against my will. All I really think I needed was to feel and talk, be heard and maybe get a good, long hug. I feel particularly sensitive to anyone who has experienced heartbreak. After all, love and love lost is what most art is made about so remember you are not the first, or last to experience la peine d’amour. That, is the bitter to the sweet of this world and you are lucky to have it, even if just for a moment.