Throughout my life, I have always found myself to be curious. I’ve made it my business to ask a lot of questions because I am fascinated by the variety of perspectives I receive in response. My favorite thing to ask people is regarding the greatest thing that has ever happened to them. This question, though very broad, has onset a myriad of answers.
So, what is the greatest thing that has ever happened to people? I’ve heard “getting married to the man that I love.” I’ve heard “holding my baby for the first time.” I’ve even heard “going to jail, it helped me clean up my act.” The diversity in peoples responses is unmatched.
The only response I haven’t heard yet was someone saying that getting their heart broken was the greatest thing to ever happen to them… until I said it myself.
My most recent relationship lasted almost five years; and that was my only “real” relationship thus far. I don’t count the puppy love crap that happened in high school because I was just thinking with my d*ck. But this last girl, the one I had an actual long term relationship with, she was something else. For the sake of this article, let’s call her Sarah.
We met by pure chance; I was trying to see someone else, but she was there when a bunch of us were hanging out. I swear on everything that’s holy, the moment I saw her I felt like I needed her. I couldn’t help it.
I’ve always been a 0 or a 100 type of guy. She was simply beautiful; from the way her glasses framed her face, to the cute way she’d look down when she became shy or embarrassed. She had a smile that could melt the coldest of hearts, and she wore a perfume thats scent will forever be engraved in my memory.
We fell in love. There were some red flags. But I was too entranced by her to care. For almost five years I was addicted to our love. She changed me. She made me want to change myself for the better.
When I met Sarah I was in a bad place mentally. I lived on the wrong side of the law and did things I’m not particularly proud of. Let’s just say I didn’t pay taxes on my income, and I didn’t care if I ended up in prison or dead. But, being with her gave me newfound life. I cared about my life. If I ended up somewhere like behind bars or buried six feet under, I’d lose her forever. So, as difficult as it was, I made a conscious choice to give that life up. I found my direction.
In short, she saved my life, and I don’t even know if she even knows how grateful I am.
But, things weren’t always sunshine and rainbows. Between college and the Army, I spent time in Alabama and Vermont, with long months in between seeing her. I can understand now, looking back on things, that as a young woman going through college, a long distance relationship must have been tough for her. It’s crazy. We talked about moving in together, and even getting married at one point, but we were growing in two different directions. In my usual obstinate self, I refused to notice these changes. Her roommates, the goddamn harpies that they were, pressured her throughout our relationship to leave me. I guess they won on, because one day, everything changed.
When things ended, it came as a complete shock to me, but looking back on it now I can see all the warning signs that my paradise was coming to an abrupt end. It was quite anti-climactic, she invited me over to her house during Easter weekend and dropped the hammer on me. There was no fighting or screaming. And for once, I didn’t try to win her back with smooth talking or ridiculous attempts at showing affection. I just walked out. I swear it was one of the worst emotions a guy can feel. Though most men will never admit this.
I was devastated. I would have rather gone back to the one night that I got jumped by three guys than feel as soul sick as I was feeling.
For months, I ebbed between depression and rage or unnaturally ebullient moods as I forced myself into feeling good. I kept busy; I was always going to some party or event or working every spare moment I had. I had to keep myself busy, because, on those long drives home, the silence in my car was deafening.
Even to this day, as matured and happier as I am, sometimes I can catch the scent of the perfume she used to wear while I’m walking in the city, and those memories come back so vividly. I signed up for every conceivable dating and hook -up app, and threw myself shamelessly at women in every possible location.
It took me months to realize that hooking up with random girls wasn’t going to make me feel better. I had hit rock bottom.
I would lay awake at night plagued with the thoughts of “what if I addressed these issues earlier?” or, “could we have made it work?” or, “did she even ever love me?” I tortured myself with the thoughts of her with someone else. It drove me into violent rages, and I felt my old self-threatening to emerge all over again. I spent five years erasing that part of life, and there I was about to lose my mind and fall back into my old ways. But, something happened that stopped me.
I was cleaning up all of Sarah’s belongings from my room when I came across a little black notebook. It was for me. Sarah wrote down quotes from movies and books that she found profound and interesting. She wrote them for me to read during hard times, and in some odd way it was the perfect tool I needed to get me out of my rut. I can comfortably tell you all right now that I opened that little black notebook, and read those quotes and smelled the faint lingering scent of her perfume. I haven’t laughed or cried like that before while reading a book.
Who would have thought that the same woman who would utterly break me would give me the tools to not only put myself back together but to make me a better person?
After Sarah broke my heart, I slowly got my life back together. I’ve become more resilient, and more aware of my relationships between myself and the people that surround me. I can admit, I wasn’t the perfect boyfriend, and there were definitely things about me that Sarah and her friends could never understand, and those were things that I made no attempts explain to them. But, I think the most important thing was that this break-up, didn’t diminish my hopeless romantic attitude. I haven’t become closed off emotionally. If anything, I’m far more receptive than I ever was. Looking back on my short life so far, I can tell that since Sarah came into and left my life, I’ve matured so much.
I grasped that If I could love the wrong person this much already when I find the right one, my life is going to be fireworks.
I’m not saying that I’m ready just to throw in with the next girl I meet because I realized that, right now, I have far too much on my plate. I can’t give enough of my attention to cultivating a relationship and a life with someone else. It wouldn’t be fair to myself or her. But, I’m sure I’ll know when I’m ready. And for that, I thank you, Sarah. You came into my life, saved me, broke me and made me a better man for it. I’ll never forget you and will always cherish the memories we had, even the bad ones. You leaving me was the greatest thing to happen to me so far, and you’ll always be my favorite almost.