Dear Heath Houston,

I’ve been waiting to respond to this until I had the time, because this particular subject takes me to places where I feel things I need solitude from my children to let myself feel. But now, I’m thinking I should have at least chimed in with some words of support yesterday when I first read your heart bleeding out onto the pages and not waited for time. So, I’m very sorry for that.

I wanted to tell you a little bit of my story; not too much because I’ve been trying to write it down here for almost a year and have not yet had the courage to sit down and relive it in its entirety.

In October of 2009 I was separated from my husband, who I believe suffers from narcissistic personality disorder. I’m not a doctor and cannot diagnose him, but I have the psychic scars to prove a good deal.

I became a single mother to my two children (not the hardcore kind; their father is still very involved in their lives so we share that burden, for what it’s worth), and did not date again until July of 2013.

That month, my first love — from 1988, when I was 14 years old — the boy who had in my mind saved me from falling apart under my abusive alcoholic father’s home, contacted me. He was in town and wanted to meet. I knew he was married; we had kept in “Christmas card” touch over the years. I invited his wife to join us. He informed me she hadn’t come with him (he was visiting his folks for the holidays).

We met, I was led to believe he and his wife were amicably separating (they’d only been married a little over a year and only known each other a few months before that, and it just wasn’t working out). He wanted to keep in touch when he went back home.

I trusted him implicitly, because of our history. He claimed that I was who he’d been looking for all of these years. He inundated me with sweet words; poetry; praise. My guard was up, but after a while, he wore it down and I fell head over heels in love with him. I had always loved him, in that childlike way, but now, we were planning a future together. And it seemed like it was meant to be, and I wanted so badly to believe that it was. So, I did.

A few months later, and I won’t go into detail here, he emailed me that he was going to be working things out with his wife (he still claimed that what he was working out was the divorce, and in the end, it was) and that he had to go silent for awhile.

And he was gone. Like he’d never been. Here, I’d finally opened myself up to someone again and had believed all of these sincerely spoken promises and they were, all of them, lies. I learned this later down the road. Everything had been a lie.

He had wanted one thing from me.

He had GOTTEN everything from me. Taken everything from me.

He has never spoken to me about it. I have never had closure. I told my best friend when it happened, “Ah, well. it was just a few months. It should only take a few months to overcome.”

She said, “I’m not so sure about that. I think it’s going to be a lot worse on you than you realize now.”

She was so right. It’s been three years, and he is still almost always the first thing I think about when my eyes open in the morning. The last thing before I fall asleep.

THREE YEARS.

Somewhere along the way, I learned to be more gentle with myself. To let things run their course. To see a future for myself, without him. The pain has softened, and diluted.

It has gotten better.

I left a lot out; a lot that would explain why it hurt so badly. But i don’t know your story well enough to put my stuff on you. You need to come to your own conclusions.

I just want you to know, I know it doesn’t seem like it now, but it gets better.

It gets worse, first. Because of all the questions. All the self-annihilation, and the disbelief. The cognitive dissonance; trying to reconcile this person with the person you poured your soul into. The blame — of you and of her. All of this will make it worse for a while but IT WILL GET BETTER.

And like Tremaine L. Loadholt said (I’m paraphrasing, sorry, Tre), the worse it hurts, the sweeter the rewards you will reap from it.

When I cried on my dear friend Alison’s shoulder just after he disappeared (and I’ve told this before), she said to me,

“What you don’t realize is that one day, you’re going to get to thank him for the gifts that came from this.”

She was right.

One day, you are going to get to thank her for the gifts that came from this.

And I know, you can’t see that today. But just hold on. Put one foot in front of the other. You can do this. You have a tribe here that won’t let you fall, if you let these people hold you up.

I’m so, so, so damned sorry you have to feel this.

xoxo,

Elizabeth.

I still don’t know what I want to be when I grow up, but I know I want it to be spelled right and punctuated correctly. I guess that’s something.

I still don’t know what I want to be when I grow up, but I know I want it to be spelled right and punctuated correctly. I guess that’s something.