When I was 18, I met the love of my life. My soul mate, if you’re into that kind of thing. I met him on his 18th birthday, the day before his high school graduation. I had just finished my first year of college and was an absolute disaster of a human. But that didn’t stop me from chasing down this brown-eyed boy from the next town over.
It took me an entire summer and one painful rejection before he finally gave in and decided to love me back.
We both headed to different schools, me at Missouri State in Springfield, and him at the University of Missouri in Columbia, two and half hours away. We were MADLY in love. Like, spewing poems and sonnets in love. I’m fairly confident he thought I pooped rainbows.
And I thrived under his love. He was sweet and kind and had this smokin’ hot cowboy thing going on. He showered me with compliments and praise, I think I was glow in the dark I was so smitten. I had struggled with insecurities for years, but I happily put them aside for this smooth-talking, charming man-of-my-dreams.
After a year of long-distance dating, I decided to transfer to his school. Decided is the wrong word……I mentally and emotionally struggled for weeks, I trudged through disapproval and doubt and fear, before I finally admitted I wanted to uproot my entire life for a boy. I was embarrassed, but it a little shame was worth being closer to his cute face.
Transferring schools two years in sucks by the way. I wasn’t accepted into Mizzou the first time (weird credit transfer problems) and had to take classes over the summer (which I failed and had to drop). I was sad and worn down. I thought it was the stress of the transfer.
I got to Columbia and jumped right into making the most of it. I joined clubs, made friends (lol who am I kidding, friend, singular) and took a bunch of really hard classes. I cried a lot that semester. I worked 30 hours a week at the DMV and fought my hardest to be happy.
But I was a mess. I stopped eating for a few weeks. Then summer rolled around and I basically stopped eating all together. I dropped 20 pounds. I got a second job and was working around 50 hours a week. I was miserable. And our relationship suffered.
I got mean. And so incredibly cold. If I didn’t like where a fight was headed I would just leave. Grab my keys and drive away without a second thought. I started lying about where I was. And this guy, this amazing guy, never once wanted to throw in the towel on me.
I was miserable. And I blamed it on him. Nothing made me happy. Not my job, not my friends, not my faith, nothing. And it was all his fault.
So I broke up with him. I told him it was because he didn’t have his life together. I smothered him with blame and walked out the door.
My last year of college was a blur. I worked even more hours to hide from all my feelings. And it actually worked pretty well. I don’t remember feeling sad, I just didn’t really feel at all. I had suicidal thoughts ever so often, but I thought that was normal. I just kept working and working and working, for what, I really don’t remember.
When I graduated, I filled my life back up with exercise. I put back on all the weight with muscle and tried doing the paleo thing. Then I got further into my faith. Then I got more friends, then I got a dog. Then I dated a few guys then I dated no one.
But after a while, I ran out of ways to feel numb. And the regret from the break up hit me. Over a year later. And I lost it. I cried. I sobbed. And not just because of what I’d lost, but of who I’d become. I was even less happy now. And I knew there was no way I could ever go back and fix that relationship, I had become too shallow of a person.
And then I was hospitalized. For suicidal thoughts. And was diagnosed with major depressive disorder and anxiety.
The minute I got out of that damn hospital I called my sister “Did I break up with him because I was DEPRESSED?!?!”
She quietly responded “Don’t freak out, but probably.”
It’s weird how God works, because the next day I ran into him. And for the first time in two years, he smiled at me.
I took that smile as a sign and I asked him if we could grab lunch, and thankfully he agreed.
During the most awkward lunch of my life, I apologized. I told him I was sorry, sorry for blaming him and for treating him so poorly. I explained my recent discovery and how I think it played a huge role in the demise of our relationship. And praise the lord, he forgave me. We hugged, and went on our way.
And a full year later, we’re married homeowners with two dogs. We love telling our story, we love how it points to redemption and forgiveness. I won’t say dating an ex boyfriend is easy, or that you should jump into a relationship while depressed, or that marrying someone who previously hated you is wise, but man, is it wonderful to bring an old love back to life.
Depression stole years from my life. It stole the man I loved. It stole my joy and my dreams. But I stole them right back. And so can you.