By: Mackenzie M. Hebner
Looking back now, I see where things went wrong. Truthfully, I saw it on that very day. The day my heart, for the first time, understood the definition of brokenness. No, to be honest with you, it was long before that when I first noticed the corruption, but, being thus far so corrupted, I did nothing. I didn’t allow myself to admit it, to accept it, to recognize it, and in turn, all that lack of attention led it to no other choice than to make itself known, loud and clear. I denied something you can never deny. Because no matter how deep within the shadows you try to bury your darkness, somehow, in some way, it always manages to find a way to slip through the cracks, destroying not only you but all you ever dared to love in the light that was never truly yours.
So, before I tell the story of my exposure, I would just like to say one final thing in disclaimer: to the one I lied to for so long, to the one I brought down with me, falling farther and farther only to take you with me as a cushion for my final crash landing, I’m sorry. I’m sorry I made you watch my descent into madness. It’s true, I was mad, and you were not. I was spinning out, and you were building back your command system. I was ripping out your repaired pieces one by one. And all I can say is that I am sorry. That I know it’s too late now, but I finally learned. I know what I did. And here is my honest apology and full confession:
I don’t remember the exact date, but I believe it was somewhere around our second February together. I was on vacation, sitting in this decently cushioned chair by the fireplace in my family’s very nice Airbnb. If I remember correctly it was a biegish color, embroidered with some North Western animal… the chair, not the Airbnb. I was still in my base layers from a long day of outdoor activities, my family on the back deck relaxing. I was curled up in about as close to a ball as one can be without drawing too much attention to their condition. In that moment I was still innocent. Corruption had not yet infiltrated me, though also in this moment, as the words desperately slipped out, the seed was planted. However, in actuality it had been planted months prior, around our first March together I believe, a secret that would take corruption tended to in order to reveal to you. But it was on that February night, a lifetime ago now, that my first toe slipped past the line of entrance to the path of no return. The path that led to the destruction of both me and you. The path where the darkness was the guide and the light my ever fading shadow, so far from reality its connection to me was detaching step by step.
I don’t remember the exact words that were both formed and sent over text that day, but they went a little something like this: “Sometimes I just don’t know how to breathe anymore.” It had been abrupt and unexpected. It had been intense, one of those stops you in your tracks moments. It was a one toe off of the diving board where the water is so far below you you know the impact awaiting will be crushing moment. You know those times where you take a step forward to make a move you are uncertain of and somehow that one step of uncalculated courage propels you in such a way that your body is now full force ahead and you cannot stop the descent or movement of which you have just initiated? This was one of those times. This was the moment I signed our death warrant as I let the words of impending corruption slip from lips of prior purity. In truth, I don’t remember what you said to such unexpected words setting course for unexpected consequences. All I know is what I did that day. A confession of innocence soon to be bred into an arsenal of self desolation.
The true problem, I believe, is that in my confession I held no regard for recovery. You see, the day my world had slipped was the day I said goodbye to the other side, the day I pegged myself as one meant for this way of life. One hand-chosen for suffering. But it wasn’t true, was it? It was what I chose to see, what I chose to believe, but you knew better, and I knew better for you. But as you spilled your secrets and I fought for your future and as I told my truths and you strived for my safety, as if to balance one another out, you found the strength to rise and I found the corruption to fall. You see, my mind was set. I had a goal, one, in truth, I could not put words to in that moment, or perhaps it was another case of refusal to acknowledge the reality right before my eyes, but a goal, that though I thought you held precedence above all, took precedence over even you. Which is why I owe you an apology, because I told you lies. I told you a truth that was not true at all. I made a vow that, in full disclosure, I held more in regards to the now deep-seated ambition for destruction boiling in the back of my mind than to my heart’s cry for you.
It’s true, I loved you, but I loved you too late. There was a goal, a goal on which my corrupted mind became set on not too long after that very night where purity first made a run from my soon to be poisoned lips. In fact, there were many. They were like toxins spilling into my mind as a newfound anchor of reality, a reality that was no more real than the lies I unintentionally fed you, watering the seed, giving it sunlight, tending to it oh so carefully.
I didn’t know then, and perhaps I don’t even fully know now, why things had to happen like this. Why I was convinced of the importance of indulging in such sure-fire corruption. Why, night after night, I fed into it. Why backing away from you for just long enough to leave you anxious filled me with adrenaline. Why the closer I got to the point of no return, the closer to my unnamed goals I felt. Why scaring you was the only way I could be satisfied. Why I lied. Why I had to be more than myself. Why I couldn’t let you freely love me. Why there had to be a toll far beyond what you signed on for, beyond what anyone signed on for. I don’t know if it was the broken friendships, the hurt from family, the dissatisfaction with my own expectations, the words I thought kept you coming back. I don’t know what it was that left me starving for every ounce of your selfless and endless compassion, but not knowing wasn’t enough to halt the need to quench my hunger. I didn’t mean to hurt you, I didn’t do it to hurt you, but I knew it would, and somehow that was okay. To this day I’m not sure what came over me, or where the girl you knew came from, or how to erase the infinite damage she imposed. I know the girl you loved, and that’s what hurts the most. That the girl you loved is me, and the girl you ran from is history. But just like all painful moments in the history books, her ramifications ring on. What hurts the most is that you loved me, but then I had to be her. I could have had you, kept you. Our promises could have lasted the test of time. We could have had the future we always wanted. We could have proved all those against us wrong. We could have been beautiful.
To this day, I don’t know why, and it keeps me awake at night. Exposure to corruption my entire childhood had never sunk in. It had been washed away over and over again, and yet when you came around, suddenly it decided to go to seed. Why did it have to be with you? The one I truly wanted to stay. For, after all, I did love you, just too late. Maybe they are right, everyone that says you want what you can’t have. But I know that’s not what came over me. It was when I truly saw the damage I had caused, the pain I had inflicted, the truth of what I had lost, that my eyes finally returned to reality, a little too late. I don’t know what would have happened if we never would have met, if things would be different now, or if I would have simply broken someone else. I don’t know if knowing me was worth it for you, if I really changed you the way you claimed. I don’t know if any good came from us besides knowing now the sheer depth with which I can love someone. I don’t know if things would be better if that day had gone differently all those years ago. I don’t know if you would be where you are now or better or worse and the same for me. I don’t know if you were saved or if somehow I was too. I don’t know if you loved me or if you regret this all as much as I am beginning to. But I know I dragged you down with me and ran you away. I know you were right to leave, wise to leave, brave to walk away. For both our sakes I thank God you did. Because I know that if you hadn’t found the strength to say goodbye, I very well could have destroyed you.
I can’t tell you how many times I look back now, wishing I would have bit my tongue. Wishing I wouldn’t have subjected you to the infiltration of my corruption. I can’t tell you how many times I look back and wish I would have spared you, loved you sooner. I can’t tell you how deeply I wish I could take it all back, and truly save you. But instead, I broke you, drove you out, brought you to a point where it was either you jump with me or you walk away, tears streaming down your face, and hope I find my balance as I look down into the darkness below while the light follows your fading presence. So, once again, I’m sorry.
But now, after so much time has passed, as I find myself realizing the danger still lurks with the possibility of your presence, I know that I can never come back to you, no matter how deeply my healing heart wants me to, no matter destiny’s attempts to bring me back to you. You don’t deserve to fall, and neither do I. I have come far. I have made a new goal, one to rewrite the rules of my world. Creating one where recovery is achievable and backsliding is not optional. Where I fight to heal and hold on tight no matter what. Where a way out is no longer a real option and where it’s always worth it in the end even if your voice forever remains a dull echo in my memory.
Yes, I loved you. And that is exactly why I am stripping my future of you. Because some people have that passion that is so on fire all it knows how to do is burn, and I am afraid that is me and you. So, I want you to know, I will always regret what I did to you, I will always wish I knew why, I will always grow from that moment, and I will always love you. But I have to say
Thank you for staying when you did, and leaving when you needed to.
I found my balance.
I hope you did too.
I did love you.