The Beauty of Lost Love

When it first popped up on my news feed, my heart stopped. I tried my best to make sense of why there were tears falling from my eyes. Why all of a sudden, I was very aware of how I felt about this man. I loved him. And at one time he loved me. And maybe part of him still did. But not the same way. He loved her. He chose her. He was marrying her.

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You may be reading this title and thinking to yourself, “This isn’t the typical post we see from her” and you would be correct. I don’t know that I’ve ever written about anything along these lines before, and I’m not sure that I ever will again. But then again, I’ve written about a lot of things this past year that I never expected to.

This journey of recovery has been a long one. And this is a part of it that I’ve never wanted to accept until now. There are a lot of uncomfortable feelings that accompany this idea of lost love. Some painful. Most beautiful. But nonetheless, they are feelings that I have to accept and come to terms with so that I can move on and be a whole person.

Lost love.

I think we’ve all experienced that at one point or another. But I’m not talking about that high school lost love kind of thing, because we all know that the average high school relationship stays just that, a high school relationship.

I’m talking that real first adult love. Not the “I’m rushing into something because I think this is what I’m supposed to do” kind of love. I’m talking the kind of love that changes you, that scares you. That you dare not even act on because of how terrifying the the very thought of doing so is.

This is the kind of love that distance and time can’t touch. But it’s also the kind of love that eventually, will be set aside in pursuit of someone else. The kind of love that when it’s gone, a piece of you goes with it.

I’ll never forget the first time we met. I was 20 and just coming out of a relationship that I had no business being in. He was a few years older. But there was something undeniable. And it had all the makings to be something beautiful. But with the end of the semester coming upon me and the fact that I wouldn’t be returning in the fall, came the realization that whatever we could have had would disappear.

But it didn’t. It lingered. It stayed with me, with both of us I think, for so long.

But there would be pauses. Months would pass with no words exchanged. But then a simple, “Hi, I miss you” would appear from one of us and we were right back to where we started. Every familiar feeling came rushing back. And it was wonderful. And it was terrifying.

It’s no secret that I’ve never been the greatest at sharing my feelings over the years, and this is something that I’m still working on. But I don’t feel like it was ever a secret to him how I felt.

I remember the first time the ‘m’ word was dropped. You know the one I’m talking about. Marriage. I was 23 and in the middle of a major relapse. We weren’t even officially dating. And it’s not like it was an actual proposal. It wasn’t. It was more of a statement. A “I could see myself marrying you one day when you’re ready” kind of thing. I didn’t know what to do with that. And if I’m being honest, it scared the hell out of me. But I knew that despite the fear I felt from his words, that I felt the same.

But then came another pause. I’m good at those when I get scared. When I don’t know how to handle a situation. I pause. I always pause.

But then the “I miss you” came again from one of us, and with that came the most conversation we had shared in so long. It was exciting. It was new. But still, there was something so familiar about all of it.
Like those were the kinds of conversations we were always supposed to have. The kind that we were always going to have. He never hid how he felt about me. But still, at 25, I had a hard time of owning the feelings that I’d had for the past five years of my life.

I tried. God knows I tried. But I came up short every time. And never once thought about how much that hurt him. Here I was, 165 miles away, madly and completely in love with this man, and I still couldn’t put the simple words together to tell him that. I could bare my soul in a blog about the beauty and the brokenness of recovery and self harm and suicide. But I couldn’t put together anything remotely coherent to tell him how I felt.

We thought about the beauty that we would find if we picked up and just moved to Florida. Joked about the fact that we’d have a host of people that wouldn’t be happy with us if we did that. And promised that Florida would be our place. One day.

And then. That day in September came. I tried my hardest to be happy for him. I read over and over that update on Facebook like it was going to magically change. It didn’t change. And I knew I had to say something. I had to wish him well. Even though the thought of that hurt so deeply. But I did it anyway.

It was a simple “I’m so happy for you Boo!”. That’s all I could muster. The response is what killed me. To keep it simple and to the point, it was a very thankful, and sharp “I couldn’t wait for you any longer”. Those words left me breathless.

And then this side of me that I didn’t even know existed came out. It only lasted a second. But what I saw of it, I didn’t like. I didn’t like it at all. For that brief second, I wondered if it would maybe dissipate. That it wouldn’t be the ‘real deal’. After all, I always thought that was the role I played. And at one time, I did.

But it was the real deal. And now, they’re engaged and planning their wedding. And I watch as every update pops up on my news feed. And I think to myself about how that should be me. That that’s the life I should have had. But it most certainly isn’t.

When it first popped up on my news feed, my heart stopped. I tried my best to make sense of why there were tears falling from my eyes. Why all of a sudden, I was very aware of how I felt about this man. I loved him. And at one time he loved me. And maybe part of him still did. But not the same way. He loved her. He chose her. He was marrying her.

I knew that I had to say something to him. That I had to wish him, and her, well. But I didn’t want to. I didn’t want to at all. But then the words he said to me a few months prior, that he couldn’t wait on me anymore, took away every claim to anger I could have. I congratulated him. I was honestly and genuinely happy for him. He deserved the moon and the stars. He deserved happily ever after. And he found it. And even though it wasn’t with me, I was still happy.

I apologized that I had waited so long to realize what he meant to me. That I never intended for him to feel like he was waiting on me. His response was kind and gentle, like him. And with that, I was forced to start owning these feelings and move on from them.

I didn’t want to at first. In fact, the thought of moving on from him hurt worse than trying to figure out how to own my feelings before he ever moved on. And it scared me on a completely different level than it ever had before. He was moving on. And I was left behind. The love I had for him was still there. But that’s exactly where it would stay. Moving on meant that I had to let go of him. And I didn’t want to. But there was nothing that I could do to change the reality of what had become of us. He moved on.

And with every update. Every plan and every picture, another piece of my heart fractures. It hurts. God does it hurt. But I’m happy for him. And one day this won’t hurt so bad. One day, I’ll be over him. I’ll have to be. But you can’t just stop loving someone. I think I’ll always love him. Even when I move on, there will always be a piece of my heart that will belong to him.

That’s where I’ll store every memory. Every message. Every wishful plan we ever made. The proposal of a proposal. Florida. It will always be there. Always.

That’s the beauty of lost love. It never leaves you. You’ll always carry it with you. But it won’t always be so heavy. But there’s such beauty within that heaviness. And there will be beauty with in the light.

So here’s to what could have been and what will be.
Here’s to love, lost and otherwise.
Here’s to us.
Here’s to them.

Here’s to moving on.

The Story Continues

Today I am in awe. As I keep refreshing my Twitter feed and try to keep up with the notifications from our Facebook page, I am simply blown away. Two years ago today, a simple idea was born. It was born out of love and out of honor.

Today it has become a movement.

Project Semicolon is celebrating it’s second anniversary today. Two years of stories being continued. Two years of hope and redemption being on display. Two years of victory.

I am so honored to be a part of so many wonderful stories. Stories that at one point, weren’t sure if they would continue or not. But they have.

Thank you to the incredible people that have made this movement what it is. You guys really are the bees knees.

I encourage you today, whether you are someone that currently struggles with these issues, struggled in the past with them, or maybe you have a loved one that has, draw a semicolon on your wrist and share it with us using #ProjectSemicolon

You are why we exist. We are honored to be a part of your continuing story. And until people realize that putting a period in their story isn’t the only option, we will continue to fight for those semicolons.

Thanks for a great two years. I look forward to the many more to come.

An Open Letter to Summer 2013

You may be wondering why I’m writing an open letter to a summer long past. Why this summer that’s a distant memory for most people, is still so fresh for me.

The answer is simple. That’s the summer that I learned to trust people again and learned that being honest about my struggles to the people God placed in my life.

Summer 2013, thank you for your endless memories and lessons that you taught me. You showed me that there was an incredible amount of strength that lays within me. You showed me that being honest about the days of struggle is okay.

You blessed me with the most incredible friends and experiences, all of which will stay with me forever.

You taught me that struggling just meant that progress was being made and that failure is not final. You showed me the voice that I had that was just waiting to be released.

But most importantly, you taught me that people truly need other people and that keeping people at an arms length isn’t how to live life.

You showed me grace. You showed me mercy. You showed me victory. You showed me setbacks. You showed me renewal. You showed me life change.

I’m thankful for the memories that you left with me those few months you were here. You were one for the record books and one that won’t soon be forgotten. Thank you.

Until next time,
Brandi