Anyone who has ever been in an on again/off again relationship can tell you how emotionally exhausting it is. You begin by being consumed with this overpowering feeling of love and connection. You've invested time into intertwining your soul with someone else. You've learned every crevice of their mind and body. You know what they're going to say before they even gets the words out.
And then all of a sudden, that same person is walking out of your life as if they were a stranger. It isn’t the ending that’ll exhaust you. Of course, the end of a relationship, whether it's your choice or not, can be incredibly heartbreaking. But with endings, eventually comes closure, and closure is a luxury that not all of us get.
No- the true irreparable damage will be from the whiplash of having what you most desire to abruptly and completely losing it. At first, your partners' return into your life will seem miraculous. It will seem as if all of the stars have suddenly realigned and the fates are once again working in your favor. But to constantly switch back and forth between your sweetest dream and your bleakest nightmare is a kind of torture that I would not wish upon any of you.
And yet, this became my reality. I was at the mercy of the waves of Daniel's depression. When he first broke up with me, I was determined to not fall victim to the demons inside of him. I was determined to find out the truth. I genuinely understood at that time that Daniel's life was in danger.
I could see him constantly torn between both sides of himself. I knew him too well and too intimately to immediately succumb to the façade he so desperately portrayed to the outside world. He began to voice feeling like a burden. He would tell me that he felt unworthy of a life with me. He would explain this overbearing feeling of helplessness that things would never get better.
But when he broke up with me, he swore that wasn't the reason he was ending things. He promised it was about him losing feelings. Each time he said it, it would chip away a piece of my heart. The person I loved most in this world was looking me in the eye and saying it was over. There are only so many times one can contest that.
When that end came, he severed all contact with me. He didn't want to see me. He wasn't answering my messages. I was suddenly and abruptly kicked to the outskirts of his life with no way of knowing how he was doing. I wondered about his mental state. I wondered if he was talking to someone about it. I wondered if there was anything I could possibly do to help him.
The only thing I could think of, was to reach out to his friends. I decided to invite some of them into the rabbit hole I was falling into. I let them know why I was concerned and what he had said that raised alarm bells in my mind. It took me by surprise when they said this was the first they were hearing of this. Daniel hadn't been honest with them about our breakup. He didn't tell them that he mentioned suicide as a reason. He wasn't showing them how deeply he was suffering.
At the time, it felt like maybe the person he wasn't being honest to, was me. Everyone else seemed to believe he was fine. I would see him hanging out with his friends and going out to concerts. I began to entertain the fact that maybe I was the one who was lying to myself. Maybe it was time for me to accept the painful truth that the one I loved most, no longer loved me.
But as I finally seemed to come to terms with this version of the story, Daniel began to slowly weave in and out of my life. He would ask me how my day was. He would want to take the train home together. He would start to resurface as the version of himself that I was familiar with.
As excited as I was to be invited back in, I couldn't silence the voice in my head saying that it wasn't real. My mind had already accepted the fact that he didn't want me. I didn't feel like anything I said would be interesting to him. It felt like he only wanted me half way. We were together without actually being together.
And it messed with my head. Him not knowing what he wanted made it feel like he didn't want me. I used to think that being with someone was a choice; a conscious decision you make. But how does that change when you are at war with the part of yourself that allows you to accept good things in your life? How does that change when it isn't lack of desire for the person but a lack of desire for life that is holding you back?
These are questions I hadn't asked until it was too late. At the time, I did not have the wisdom that comes with retrospect. At the time, I was torn between two versions of the facts. There was still no clarity from him about why we had broken up.
So when I asked Daniel what he wanted and he said "I don't know," I took it the same way as if he had said, "I don't want you."
He was shyly trying to make amends for the pain he had caused me but I struggled to fully let him back in. I questioned why this time would be any different. Whether or not he wanted to confirm if risk of suicide was a factor in our breakup, I at least knew mental health was.
I wanted us to both acknowledge that things needed to change this time. I wanted him to understand that there were options we could look into. We could look into medications or find someone he could talk to. We could try to get him the resources he needed. I told him I didn't feel comfortable rekindling whatever it was we were doing if nothing changed. I needed him to want to help himself so we wouldn't constantly live in this painful swing of back and forth. I told him how much I believed things could be better if we tried to support each other differently.
He said what I was suggesting was reasonable, but he still didn't want to do it. He didn't want to get any help. I still don't know what was really holding him back. I don't know if he thought it was pointless. I don't know if he thought it would be hard. I don't know but he just didn't want it.
So I started to distance myself. I started to think I can't help someone who doesn't want to help himself. Being with him while he was trying to figure out things was breaking my heart. I was constantly tugged between two versions of the truth. I remember thinking the energy he was putting into me would've been better spent on himself. I remember thinking it hurt too much to have him halfway.
I wish someone had told me how hard it would be to not have him at all.
I slowly started to resist the urge to see him. I started to put some distance between us. I couldn't keep playing the, "What are we?" game. I needed more clarity than he was in a position to give me at the time.
I did the one thing that still haunts me to this day. I left him to figure it all out on his own. I thought removing myself from his life would resolve the problem. I thought I was part of the problem. I thought maybe if I stopped condoning his self-destructive behavior then maybe something would change.
Everything before the night it happened feels like it was moving in slow motion; almost like it was trying to warn me of the misfortune that lay ahead. There are things I've learned about helping someone considering suicide that I wish I had known then. I wish I could've been better for him when it still would've made a difference.
Instead, I will end that godforsaken night writing in my journal.
"I really wish I believed in heaven right now."
Always with love,