These Pieces are Claimed, You're Free Now

“Sorry to wake you or if this is the wrong number because Cori changed hers. I apologize for the long/multiple text.”

The texts came out of order, but that was supposed to be the last sentence that he wrote in a slew of messy feelings and words and apologies and breathing and apologies. It was 5:40 in the morning. My hair was wet from the shower. My left hand trembling as I traced the words with my finger.

 Although it was a text message, I could hear the sincerity in his apology that he might have gotten the wrong number. As I reread the message over and over again, it was like I was standing in front of that seventeen year old boy again. The one who took our friend’s truck to chase after me after I stormed off at a graduation party. We had been fighting because we didn’t know how to say goodbye. We didn’t know how to hold on. We didn’t know how to let go. I was moving, in just a few short weeks.

“I don’t want to lose you,” it was the only time I ever saw a tear in his eye for the near four years we were together.

There was something desperate. Something urgent in him reaching out to me. And I knew this because he was never the type to reach out – especially when it came to me. At fourteen and sixteen years old, we had no right falling in love. There became a point where we didn’t know how to say kind words to one another. We didn’t know how to forgive one another. We didn’t know how to forgive ourselves. We tried to build safety nets within each other only to find out that there is a reason why there are holes in between our fingers, in our noses, through our ears. Because people are not meant to be safety nets. We are faulty. We are supposed to be faulty. Especially when we are sixteen. 

I have always struggled with these unclaimed pieces of myself:

How did I have such hard seasons of depression?
Why do I only invest in love with an expiration date?
Why did I hate myself so much growing up?
Will I ever be a normal person in a relationship? Or will I always find myself in patterns of abuse?

{ **Note: it is extremely important for me to clearly state I was never in a physically abuse relationship. However, mental, emotional and verbal abuse does and can exist in relationships. Especially teenage relationships }

 So much changed in those four years. It is as if someone else was driving my life at that time. When I draw out this timeline of my life I had a childhood, and then I visualize a hazy, dark spot, and suddenly I am in my senior year of high school making plans to leave and rebuild; to leave him behind and rebuild all he broke.  

Never could I have predicted or imagine that on a Monday would all of these sharp, unclaimed pieces of myself that I had been tiptoeing on and around would be swept up and claimed. It was like for those raw moments of him streaming those sentences, he said, “I did this to you. This is not you. This is me, and the side effects of me. This is not you. These are my wounds that I displaced on you. And you have carried them for eight years now. You are free. I am finally allowing you to be free.”

Last summer, we randomly had this opportunity to see each other. I was desperate for any sense of familiarity after living abroad but mostly I needed to know I could survive seeing him after all this time, we did after all live in the same state again. In all of Nicholas Spark-esque kind of ways, the roads were empty. I took a hard right into a parking space and got out of my car. The streets were empty, it was just us and our friends on the streets, as we ran to each other, hugging in the cross walk. The bouncer knew I was two weeks shy of being twenty-one but he passed me through the line. He wasn’t familiar at all, he had changed. He was three years older than the last time I saw him. He carried a deployment to Afghanistan with him. He was almost a stranger. 

However, the feeling of the rules always being broken and bent for us was familiar. The feeling of things always working out, of it being okay. The rest of the night we talked about how things were different and how they were the same.

There were absolutely no regrets on how things ended, but he sounded doubtful when he said, “I know you better than anyone else.” 

After that night, we didn’t talk. Not for almost a year.

The time when he reached out before, I wasn’t ready to talk to him. It had only been two years and I needed more time.

He now, needed more time.

He needed until that Monday morning.

That is the funny thing about forgiving and healing. You never know how long it is going to take. When he had reached out a few years before, I brushed him off by implying that I already forgave him because I knew I wouldn’t receive the apology that would be honest and sincere. For the longest time I believed it. It wasn’t until he apologized when the majority of the state was still asleep that I felt like I could finally lift myself out of this burden. Finally, the prison guard came and tore down the barb wired fence.

He hasn’t had my heart for several years now but he was finally giving it back to me without all of the shards of unclaimed pieces.

I sat with his apology in my phone for the entire day and ended up calling my mom crying, “I hate that he has been carrying this around with him all of these years.” It was out of habit that I found myself defending him and wanting to protect him from all of the hurt that the world cause and that we as humans caused. I just needed him to forgive himself because I already did – and I knew that now. There was a need to jump into my car and chase after him, like he did me that one night in May, and just hold his head up so that he couldn’t not look at my eyes and tell him it was okay. He is okay. It is all okay.

And it is all okay.

We are both finally free of the ghosts that too refuge in our hearts.

No longer did it seem like having to choose between holding on and letting go. Quite possibly we could do both. 

I have always said that our relationship was the first loves of our lives that taught us what love was not. And I stick by that.

There is this overwhelming sense of calm and peace in forgiveness; one less person to wonder if you

can survive if you ever saw them. For me, it came in the form of driving on a sunny day a week later and a song that could easily mirror our current situation coming on the radio. Instead of jumping to change it or cursing his name, I sang along, with a smile. My heart did not pine in pain and I was no longer anxious to know if I could survive this person.

And you begin to breathe again.

It gives you the courage to whisper to your heart, “Lets do this. No more joking around. No more expiration dates. I want to be open to