1| Past heartbreaks (FIA)
How do you know when it's over? Maybe when you feel more in love with your memories than with the person standing in front of you!
"I can't sit here and do nothing when you're clearly in agony."
I glanced at Sophia as I drank the amber liquid in my hand, relishing the burning sensation that ran down my throat. I couldn't think of anything to say because denying the simple truth wouldn't help. Yes, I was miserable, but time did heal everything, right?
"Give me a few more of these and I'll be just peachy," I said, though my smile didn't quite reach my eyes.
My emotions were muffled by the whiskey, which brought back memories of happier times, and I chose to linger on them rather than think at all.
My mind was flooded with images of Noah. He was my happily ever after, I thought at the time.
Until he wasn't.
He was the guy I was going to marry up until the last weeks of our relationship. But then life got in the way, and those sunny days gradually turned gloomy. There was no warning or alarm; the darkness simply fused itself into the tiniest cracks it could find. As if it were a parasite, it slowly but steadily drained out any ounce of joy it could find.
I could see pity in Sophia's eyes as they softened. This was just what I was hoping to escape when I came across this rundown pub on the outskirts of town, but she found me, as she always did. She must have had a sensor implanted somewhere. At least, that was my explanation.
"Talk to me! How do you feel? The only thing your message said that Noah was gone." She pushed me to talk about my feelings despite the fact that it was the last thing on my mind. Why couldn't I just drink this 10-year-old golden liquid to drown my sorrows?
"Who are you, Jeremy Kyle?"
"You wound me, I'm much prettier." She genuinely made me laugh most of the time.
She was outspoken, self-assured, and knew exactly what she wanted out of life. From the moment she stood up for me in primary school, she became my best friend.
"You know," I couldn't help myself from scoffing, "when the person you'd die for looks at you with clouded eyes, as if you're a stranger... as if you haven't spent the last four years loving him despite his flaws. That's when you know this is it. That's when I realised there was no way to save this relationship. Was it love, at all, Soph?"
"I saw you two together, and while I didn't care for the man, he made you happy. It was, without a doubt, love!"
I was suddenly transported back to the first time we met. We were young and carefree, living with friends in a foreign country. It should've been a red flag then — given the circumstances that led up to that night, where lines were crossed and boundaries were ignored.
We met in a pub, both heavily intoxicated and attracted to each other like magnets. I couldn't help but wonder if it would have been the same if there hadn't been any alcohol involved. What was it that drew us in and made us want to learn more about each other? Was it just him who caught my attention, or was it the alcohol that made the decision for us?
Nonetheless, the night has shaped the course of our lives without our knowledge.
Everything was perfect at the beginning. Everyone must know that feeling when you saw everything with rose-coloured glasses on and I was no exception.
Noah was sweet, attentive, and funny, and he made me feel like I was the only person who could make him happy. For the first time in my life, I felt loved and needed and all because of him. Everything looked prettier with those damned glasses on, and we became inseparable.
Certain undeniable feelings in a relationship were addicting. It was flattering to be someone's centre of the universe, or to have their confidence and reliance placed in you. Knowing you had some control over them was thrilling, and this euphoria was driving you deeper and deeper in, blinding you in the process.
"Did you know he had a problem? I didn't and I lived with the guy, for crying out loud! All the parties and get-togethers we attended were never an indication of an issue. No one from his tight circle of friends warned me about his 'habit' that eventually caused our downfall. It was the norm for them, therefore there was no problem to fix. Who didn't like to have wild parties where the alcohol was flowing freely and the drugs were easy to come by? It was usual for Noah and I was okay with it, or so I thought."
"Don't beat yourself up, Fia! Everything happens for a reason." Sophia's constant optimism usually helped but right now I just wanted to climb under my duvet and stay there for days. No matter where I looked, there always was something reminding me of him. His presence was continuous, he was under my skin and I couldn't get rid of him. The question was, did I want that though? To erase him like a miscalculated mathematical problem?
We had so many things in common. Apart from the parties, we loved nature, especially hiking and finding the hidden streams, rivers, or lakes. There was just something about water that calmed me and I felt my energy replenishing whenever I was near it. He was loving, thoughtful, and accepting. And the voice repeating the same thing on loop in my head was an indication that I found the one, he was the one I waited for.
One thing led to another and before I could blink we got engaged. We were planning the future together. It seemed that my life was finally on a path that led to my ultimate goal - marry the man of my dreams and be happy. Pathetic, right? If I knew then that nothing was forever and everything had an expiration date I would've done things differently, perhaps.
After four years of bliss, reality came crashing down. All those "fun" times being drunk and intoxicated caught up with us. I noticed every time we were at a party or were meeting friends for one reason or another. I finally noticed how he became this other person, a person I never met before and truthfully, didn't want to know. He became this annoying, unbearable, and maddening individual, and it made me realize that what I thought were random times to get high, in reality, they turned into more frequent tripping. The more he got to that state of ecstasy the more he chased after it. He needed it more and more and that was when it became a problem. Not only mine but his too. Yet he didn't see it like that.
It led to fights and turned the love I felt once into resentment. Just one look at my fiancé made me regret I didn't put my foot down sooner. So I asked him to choose. I told him I would stay if he gave it up. I would be with him through thick and thin, I would be the support he needed. I was more than ready to stay and fight for all we had before if he would be willing to put effort into his recovery.
I snickered to myself, lost in the reminder of those events, making Sophia reach out to hold onto my hands around my glass. Her eyes held understanding and she quietly encouraged me to talk it out.
"I gave him an ultimatum to choose between his addiction and me... I just... I didn't expect his response would be a resolute no. He said he was ready to give up alcohol. The drugs, however, helped him relax and escape and he needed it. The typical addict's response, I know, should've rung a bell. They tied their lifeline to artificial substances and it was a very hard habit to break, indeed.
Despite all my threats, I stayed because if I left now who was going to take care of him? Who would help him? My guilt left no space for anything else, kicking my white knight complex into gear. I stayed even though I was dying inside. I needed a daily dose of pain to exist, to feel, and to be what Noah needed me to be."
"Yeah, you do have a white knight complex, but Fia, listen to me there is just so much you could've done. If he didn't want to get help, you wouldn't have been able to drag him anywhere. Stop scrutinizing yourself." Sophia nodded to the barman for another round with a wink, wrapping him around her little finger just with a look. She had this effect everywhere she went.
"Do you want to hear the best part?" I paused for a second to gather my thoughts and get myself ready for her scolding. "Noah started to act weirder and weirder, and at the time I just put it down to his addiction. But after a while his behaviour scared me, it felt like dealing with a 5-year-old child. I had to be careful around him about the way I talked because his next episode could be within reach."
"What are you saying, Fia?"
"I called the emergency services and explained his strange way of acting like someone with schizophrenia would. I was terrified of this whole situation but as it turned out that phone call has started a road of recovery. After a long day in the hospital, we were told Noah has bipolar disorder. He was given medication and specific instructions, which included- no drug use."
"When did this happen?"
"A couple of weeks ago, maybe. I've lost my sense of time after that."
"Clearly, because you forgot to mention all this to your best friend! How am I supposed to look after you?"
"Why would you be looking after me? I'm an adult and I can take care of myself just fine." Her eyes widened a bit as if she was not supposed to mention any of this to me. I just hoped she didn't start to behave strangely towards me! Had enough of strangeness to last me a lifetime!
I wasn't going to analyze the next couple of weeks following the diagnosis to her but it eventually led us to separation. I was in touch with his closest family and it was decided that he would be better going back home. That same week his sister showed up, packing his whole life up and that was the last time I saw him.
I felt empty and alone. No amount of friends could replace the void he left behind. I needed to move on with my life, and that didn't involve many resolutions looking forward but one: No relationships!
I wanted to enjoy my life not waiting for someone to make me happy. I needed to be the person who impacted my own life. I needed to be my own person first, and that involved me enjoying every little thing I have been given.
"On happier notes, Maya is coming in a week or so." My sister decided it would be fun to move in with me for a while, and I couldn't agree more.
"Finally! She took her sweet time! I will have help to point out the things the rest of the world is too polite to mention to you." Her smile reminded me of the grinch getting ready to steal Christmas.
"Oh, Sophia, I love you!"
We both burst into laughter that immediately healed a tiny piece of my soul. I couldn't live my life to please others anymore and I decided to live it to the fullest without having any regrets.
And life was getting better, for the first time in the last year.
But it never prepared me for HIM.
Who do you think HE is?
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