I ran from her.
I ran from what hurt me so.
But not at first.
At first, I ground myself into a shape I no longer recognised, preferring to create an alien version of myself over losing what I had fallen so hard for. But I had to run eventually. Because as much as I was willing to give everything I am, everything I hold dear in the name of my true love, I couldn’t die.
So I ran.
And then I cried, and I tried. Tried so goddamn hard to move on. To listen to those around me who watched me spin endlessly deeper into an abyss. I went through the motions of other relationships. I was numb. I tried to force love.
But it wasn’t her.
And so it wasn’t love.
When it was quiet, even whilst with another, I would caress her in my mind. Run my fingers through her hair and stroke the small of her back. I would imagine words I never heard.
“You’re a good man.”
“All of me loves all of you.”
Still, I ran. And when I couldn’t run physically, I ran in my mind. Consumed what made me forget how wrong it felt to not be with her. Drank. Drank more.
There were pockets of peace, sometimes days of them. I would forget or I would convince myself that the things that hurt were reasons enough to stay away. That I was doing the “right thing.” That there was hope for that same feeling of her, but with another.
But, as I always do—because it feels unbearable to not—I went back. I gave in to the desire to be around her. I put myself where I knew she’d be, just to catch a glimpse of her.
And then there was magic.
Not simple magic, it never is. Magic that emerges from confusion, and lies, and mess, and the results of humans being, well, human. But it was certainly magic.
It was like coming home.
And like fire through summer woods, the raging love I had fought to vanquish came roaring back.
Unbridled hope painted colours in my future.
Being with her was like breathing out.
And then, in a heartbeat, as it always had, everything changed. And I realised that I am not enough. There are other things, things that break my now full and throbbing heart, that are more attractive to her soul than me.
And so, with each word, every effort to push me away, a hole widened in my heart. Flowing through scar tissue upon scar tissue, it burned as it covered my hands, my eyes.
And the colourful future faded as I pleaded for it to stay. Colours dissolved into monochrome, and the reality of my ignorance and naivety laid itself heavy across my chest.
Had I not run, would this not have happened? Could I have held on a little longer, given a little more, loved a little harder?
I tried to make her see my bleeding heart and how it was her hands that had my blood on them. I tried to be happy for her. To tell her I loved her. To look as though I was enough of a man to take and treasure what she could offer, and to let her go again for the sake of her truth, and to not want more.
I shouted. I tried to make her see the results of her hands, to see my heart, to believe my love.
I pretended to be strong.
But I was lying. And eventually, when quiet and alone again, I broke. And tears mixed with the blood still pumping from my heart. They flowed, unstoppable. And I gave in. Not seeing the irony of having to plead with someone to choose me, I begged. And I meant it. Anything—I’d do anything.
But whilst I found courage, and hope, and wondrous happiness in admitting that, despite everything, nothing is more true or important than my love for her, she found fear, and imprisonment, and accountability, and the weight of the care of another heart.
My freedom is her prison. And her freedom is my nightmare.
And so, I have to begin running again soon. But not yet. There is still enough of a fire not doused by blood or tears that believes there’s a way. That clings to the inexplicable smile I had.
And so I wait, praying that I am not insane, and still believing in the power of the truth.
Author: Andy Charrington
Image: Ludmila Vilarinhos/Flickr
Editor: Catherine Monkman