Five and a half years ago on a warm, spring night in Tampa, Florida my eyes met those of a stranger. The beautiful, bright, yet deep blue looked beyond my first layers; soul-piercing. We stared at each other, saying nothing, each other’s names unknown; the kiss that followed was natural and uninhibited. Our connection and chemistry was unquestionable and immediate; yet, quickly suspended by circumstance. Distance and time would create a separation that most anyone would deem too much to overcome.
Over the coming years, our friendship blossomed over text. Though thousands of miles apart and with nothing to gain, we remained in contact, getting to know one another with no strings attached. We never seemed to run out of things to talk about. Only a few days of contact in Florida, and we managed to maintain conversation for years without seeing one another in person again. We dreamed of eventually meeting up someday, but it never seemed to be a realistic possibility.
As I got back together with my ex-boyfriend, I abruptly stopped communication with my Florida friend. I did not purposely drop off the face of the planet, although that is basically what happened. For a year and a half he did not know my whereabouts and only speculated as to what had become of me. Oopsies.
After the trauma of the relapse (And sometimes life breaks your heart.), I eventually reestablished contact with my Florida friend. I had greatly missed our conversations. He and I have a unique connection, and at the time I did not know if anything would come of it, but I knew I missed interacting with him, simple as it may have been. I had always been honest with him about everything, and he with me, as we had no reason not to be! We discussed relationships, hook-ups, lifestyle, and pretty much everything else one could think of. This shattered-time-of-my-life was no different. I told him the good, the bad, and the ugly of the situation; bearing my wounded soul to him. He offered his consistent, yet firm and objective support. After having an addict for a boyfriend for a year and a half who would take the path of least resistance even when it meant lying to my face, it was refreshing to have someone be honest with me; even if it was something I did not want to hear.
My Florida friend had always offered support, friendship, advice, and companionship. This seems impossible considering we have never lived in the same place at the same time. Yet, the distance forced us to actually get to know each other. When the only option for communication is talking and you have a connection like ours, you talk.
After moving to Los Angeles, my Florida friend, who now lives abroad, came to visit me. He was the first person to visit me in my new LA life. It felt SO GOOD to have a person around me who I cared so much for, and he reciprocated. Those days were pure bliss and our connection was confirmed more than ever. It was so natural and comfortable to be together; the 5 years apart felt as only moments in time. My heart swelled with affection and I soaked up our time together.
Then he had to leave.
My head spun as the comfort, stability, and warmth from his presence was removed from my physical existence. My mind tried to rationalize this occurrence, my heart tried to deal with the pain. We each had our way of dealing with this difficult separation. Our question had been answered. We now knew that we really had the chance of something amazing together. And we now realized, that in a way, the ignorance was bliss, as our current circumstance would not allow us to be together. He went back to life in the country he lived in, much better at dealing with the emotional toll than I. I cried, and then rationalized, and then cried, and tried to get over it. The few days of bliss in Los Angeles quickly felt like fiction. He carried on in his life, as a healthy independent person would, still in contact with me, but carrying on as a single, young man with a career. I, on the other hand, recently traumatized by betrayal, could not trust, and cycled through disbelief, hope, doubt, faith, until numbness took over… rinse and repeat.
I had no idea where we stood. He was confident in the feelings and intimate moments we shared, trusting and believing in us, while I, independently questioned every piece of our experience, both past and present; my injured psyche unable to fathom pure intentions.
We then took another trip together, this one quieting all of my doubts. When we are together, there is no question in my mind of the true connection we share, it is nothing short of love. And then distance cuts in, separating our bodies, but not our hearts. Prolonged time apart is accompanied by problematic doubt.
They say a woman’s intuition is rarely wrong. Might I add that my intuition has rarely failed me. While my ex was in the midst of relapse, I had asked him directly about various odd happenings. Things had stood out to me, not because they were especially alarming, but just because they were unusual, like spending more time in the bathroom. This is not something a normal person would immediately assume is linked to drug use, but it was unusual and I asked him about it, even barging in on him a few times. As he sat naked on the toilet, I felt like quite the fool. He always had a legitimate response for my questions. A few weeks later, he was fired from his job (which now of course makes sense). Leading up to this day he had told me horror stories of his terrible boss. I have my own experience with horrible boss’ and took this opportunity to be the most supportive, non-judging girlfriend I could be. I remember being so happy to be able to support him as he seemed so put out from this loss. His pride was damaged and I wanted nothing but to lift him up. Time went on and I began having nightmares that he had relapsed. I would wake up out of a dead sleep, sobbing to the point of hyperventilation, waking him up to tell him of the terror of the nightmare. He would reassure me that it wasn’t real and it wasn’t happening, comforting me back to sleep. I had this nightmare three times.
Then the day happened and I was not asleep. I was wide awake and the world felt like it was closing in on me. My worst nightmare was reality and I was devastated. My intuition had been spot on, even to the point that my dreams were warning me of the betrayal and deceit.
Risking trust again is the most difficult thing I have ever done. I feel like I am swimming in a deep sea and I don’t know which way is up. I am terrified of being betrayed again. That pain was worse than any physical injury I’ve ever experienced. My self-preservation instincts are on high alert, on the look out for lies, betrayal and deception. The problem with this overprotective mode of living is my spot-on intuition is now clouded with hyper-paranoia. Cognitively I know that my Florida friend has nothing but the best intentions for me, and for us. And then there are moments that one small miscommunication leads me down a rabbit hole of confusion, suspicion, and questioning of what to believe; desperately trying to determine whether or not this is a valid red flag. This minor miscommunication sets off alarms inside my being, fight or flight kicks into gear; my chest muscles tighten, my gut feels sour, and my heart races. My instinct is to hurry and identify the deceit…. ‘Don’t let this happen again’ my subconscious screams (my pride doesn’t help either). My last relationship exemplified that illogical things that should never happen CAN happen. The person who says they love you more than anything may be lying to your face on a daily basis. You can be living together and think you know everything about one another and find out that you’ve been repeatedly deceived. This sucks big time. Unfortunately, I know I’m not the only one who has had this experience.
And yet, I want to love again. I want to trust again. I believe in good. I believe in honesty. I know that this one experience should not define me. It is maddening to deal with me I’m sure, and it is even more maddening to be inside my own head because I don’t know what to believe! I know that there are good people in the world who understand the true value of honest partnership. I know that there are healthy men who want what I want and bring to the table great attributes that I expect and admire. I want to truly and fully believe that my partner will never hurt me like this. I realize that misunderstandings and mistakes will come about, but anyone with self-discipline, self-control and love for the other would never purposely deceive.
I have come a long way since the moment of realizing my worst fear had come true. I continue to pursue healing, to become even healthier than I was before this experience. Now I desire to get my instincts and panic responses under control.This process is so frustrating as I often take out this insecurity on my love. It is unfair for him to deal with the pain from my past relationship, yet he has continued to be patient with me as I sort through the madness. I am so grateful for his patience and look forward to the day in which these reflexes of distrust will be a distant memory.
“Part of the healing process is sharing with other people who care” – Jerry Cantrell