I told him I loved him one last time. I knew I was leaving, and I could feel the love slipping away, but I had to say it one more time. After all, I invested so much into this relationship, so much into the world I was trying to create and so much into a person who did not love me back. Not really sure why I did that to myself. Maybe I thought if I made myself perfect, he would eventually see the light. Perhaps I convinced myself he really did love me, but was afraid to admit it to himself. I have spent some time coming up with so many scenarios, yet the answers still elude me. When I finally opened my mind and my heart, I accepted what was. He loved the way I loved him, and nothing more.

woman in chain bw illustration

When do you leave? Is it when the love is gone, or before? If the love is gone, where the hell does it go? Where does it sleep and breathe? Can something so powerful really vanish into thin air, or is it redirected? You see, I struggle with this everyday. I am not speaking of the love you have for a child, sibling or other family member, which I feel is permanent in all its forms. Although it may change over time and grow into something new, it is constant, it is irreplaceable and for most people, unbreakable. However, the love, or that feeling of being in love is far more difficult to understand.

I see him now and he is just a man who reminds me of wasted time and permanent damage. The love has finally left, being replaced by anger and disappointment. As each day passes, I can feel the anger and disappointment slowly turning to indifference. For some reason, this scares me. Can I really let go of that emotion and still consider myself a loyal person who is capable of loving one person for the rest of my life? Even as the words fly onto the page, I realize the ridiculousness of my statement. This man lied, cheated, manipulated, deceived and tormented me in every way possible, yet I feel guilt for walking away, like I am somehow less of a person because I no longer wanted to just survive, I wanted to live.

He was never going to leave. It was far too easy for him to stay. He gained too much from me, in every possible way. I knew deep in my heart, the madness would continue forever, unless I put a stop to it. It would continue until I decided my own value was higher than this. I had to unchain myself. Why do we as women, feel we have to endure the unthinkable in order to remain “loyal”? This notion has plagued me for years.

Where has everything gone, and will it come back? I fear it is like an alcoholic relapse that could debilitate me at anytime, so I remove myself from the liquor store, running in the opposite direction, refusing to touch it, breath it in or taste it. I was addicted to the pain, the turmoil, and the sadness. Is that just with him, or is it now with every man? I feel it may have tainted my perception of love, and that is what enrages me the most. What is love? I thought I knew.

Even as I hesitate to love someone new, I see the beauty in it. I know deep in my heart it is possible and perhaps the most amazing feeling I could experience. Imagine a man loving me back, the way I love him. I wonder what that feels like. I wonder if I will experience it in my lifetime. I long to run free and to open myself up to someone who understands what it is to love someone more than they love themselves. I long to touch it and breathe it in. For this to happen I know I must do more than unchain myself from the wrong man; I must ultimately unchain myself from the notion that I am not good enough to have this kind of love. Only then will I be free.

Shannon Logsdon

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