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I’ve been thinking about the idea of leaving a lot.
Leaving a place, a person, a version of yourself who you were at that time or with that person.
I’ve left and I’ve been left, many times before. Somehow, even when you’re the one doing the leaving, it doesn’t make it any easier.
But I’ve noticed, in myself and in others, when people leave us, we villainize them. We villainize—or we blame ourselves.
He was emotionally unavailable.
She was a narcissist.
They were just using you. You will never be good enough.
He never loved you in the first place.
We tell ourselves these stories because it confirms our particular worldview.
When we do the leaving, we see the human behind our decisions. We see the nights we lay awake wondering if it was the right move. We see the conversations with friends. The guilt. The uncertainty.
We would never want the other person to think it’s because there’s something inherently wrong with them, either. Some things just don’t work out. Not everything is meant to last.
People don’t leave us because they are awful human beings; they leave us because they are human beings dealing with a myriad of emotions.
Maybe their mental health was struggling.
Maybe they have some kind of trauma they haven’t worked through.
Maybe they don’t know how to let someone in, so it’s easier for them to push away.
Maybe we were in the middle of a global pandemic!
Maybe you let your own stuff get in the way, too.
Maybe they got a job across the country, and they’ve been burned before and so they don’t want to do long-distance.
Maybe they didn’t want to leave, but they weren’t getting out of the relationship what they needed.
Maybe they didn’t know who they were anymore, and they needed space to figure that out again.
Maybe there was infidelity and leaving felt like the only option.
Maybe they just don’t love us anymore. Maybe we stopped loving them.
Whatever their reason, they left. And being left doesn’t mean that we are worthless, or unloveable, or that there is something broken that needs to be fixed.
There can be beauty in leaving, too—a new space created for someone or something else to step into that now-emptiness.
I’ve known my fair share of heartbreak. I’ve sat in it, I’ve written about it, and each time, I’ve been able to move on from it.
But what I’m now trying to focus more on is me and what I can control, and less on blaming or labelling the other person.
I wrote this piece after my first real heartbreak, and I wanted to share it while thinking of the idea of leaving and being left:
When You Left.
Missing a person a place a time
a version of yourself that you can’t go back to
There’s a hole where my heart should be and the only thing that can fill it
is drinking five beers with people at a bar I’ve only just met
so I can talk to them about you
because my friends are sick of hearing about it.
I’ve been trying to convince myself for the last few months
that you’re not the person I’m meant to be with
But here I am and here you are still in my head
and I can’t seem to understand why you left
I don’t understand why you left.
Missing a person a place a time
a version of yourself
I look at photos of you and I remember
how real you used to be in my life.
You were smiling at me when those photos were shot
and I was right there with you,
right there I could reach out and touch you.
We were right there together but now
I don’t exist in your world and you don’t—
won’t ever again exist in mine.
I miss the place and the time and that version of me
because it was a time and a place and a version of me that was with you.
A time and place and a version of me I don’t think I’ll ever go back to.
Relephant: People don’t Leave Us, they just Leave.