I will feed myself self love until it dilutes the taste of you from my lips, till my mouth is overflowing, till my heart is flooded, till my mind is exuberant with “I love me” instead of “I love you”. And that is how I will forget you.
Should you know that I will still be entirely yours, no matter where you are, no matter whose heart you carry in your arms. Should you know that I will always love you no matter the weather, no matter the time.
As a kid, I used to think love was when you thought someone was pretty and they let you hold their hand. I would send out the letters to every girl that caught my eye and I would wait anxiously for a reply. I carried that trend into my adult life–pairing myself with any pretty girl that didn’t find me repulsive.
So when you asked me when I knew I loved you. I was tempted to say it was when we held hands for the first time and I felt it in my gut, but it was seven months later, a week after I met your family, that double date with your best friend and her loud boyfriend. During one of his many stories, you reached for my hand under the table and smiled at me because you knew how irritated I was getting. I tried to master a smile back at you but my lips turned to concrete. I felt it like I had never in my life: butterflies.
All my life I’ve been building walls and towers so high you couldn’t see what was behind; my fears and insecurities. Perhaps that’s why I always looked for battles and challenges, even when there wasn’t any. I always looked for ghosts to fight and demons to shoot so I would keep myself busy. Then, you came along and you made it easy for me. You laughed at all my jokes, especially the terrible ones and made me special, safe. I couldn’t fight this and I didn’t want to because it was the best thing to ever happen to me. I knew instantly that you didn’t want to change that part of me which always looked for the hard path but you would encourage it, standing by my side. So that’s what love is, not the absence of a battle, but fighting together.
This is why I left:
I saw a life with you. Not in a romantic way, but the way where when I looked at the future I saw you sitting at my dining table, confessing your worries for the 1,800th time. I saw you meeting the love of my life and introducing me to yours. I saw you loving my kids like they were your own and I saw us loving each other - platonically, simply.
But through our late night conversations about the world and about our futures - mere kids aspiring to be something great in a city that was always so poor - you spoke more about the way my smile lit your world up instead of what you’d do to create your own. You stopped fantasizing about meeting the love of your life and insisted that I was already in it, despite the fact that I said it wasn’t what I wanted. That this wasn’t how it was supposed to be.
I caught the lingering stares and the subtle comments. More than anything, I noticed how we changed; how you tried to force something on me that I didn’t want, and how you kept getting hurt in the process - silently blaming me for not reciprocating feelings that I didn’t harbor in the first place.
Three years later and I feel the hatred steam off of you when you see me on the corner of my block. I ripped you off of me like a dying limb because I knew that if I held on to you, you’d cling for dear life - never looking forward to another version of your own future again. I left because I’d rather hurt you now and have you move on in due time, as opposed to not at all. I didn’t want you meeting the love of my life with a cold smile and tension wrapped around your first handshake. I didn’t want you to go home at night with no one beside you. I didn’t want you to look at my kids and wish they were ours. I didn’t want you to look backwards. I needed you to look forward.
I broke your heart for your own good. But believe me when I say that you broke mine, too.
In Indian Mythology, a powerful and evil demon was given a boon. And his askance, as he considered women feeble, weak creatures was that only a female could kill him. He believed this would guarantee his immortality. Imagine his surprise then, when the Goddess Kali appeared, a necklace of demon heads like his around her neck, her power far overshadowing his, and he no match for her incredible strength, defeating him in record time. What I am trying to tell you is, they have always underestimated us, no matter what form we take. What I am also saying is, we should channel our inner Goddesses and make them rue the day they made that mistake.