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When Two People With Mental Illness Fall in Love, but Can’t Stay Together

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I stand quietly outside the coffee shop where I stood with you only five days ago. I look in through the front windows and see a couple about our age standing and conversing. They look at one another with nothing but pure bliss and awe in their eyes.

I can remember the feelings that flooded my body as I stood there with you: hope, excitement, comfort, safety. I remember feeling so incredibly grateful to feel anything at all that evening. I was so used to feeling nothing but numb for the months prior. Looking at your face and recognizing that your smile radiated warmth through my body.

I remember walking outside with you and looking at the street corner as people rushed past. The surroundings were so busy, but I felt so still in that moment. I remember feeling nothing but peace watching you walk ahead of me over the two roads converging. Just like us. Two paths that had met at a distinct point — a point of vulnerability.

In the time leading up to this. We had disclosed our deepest secrets to each other. The pain that we had to overcome to get to enjoy these very moments. The decision we had both made time and time again: This decision was to choose life even when everything else was telling us not to.

We would have many conversations where I would sit there in tears. Telling you about just how delicate and vulnerable I was. The amount of darkness and pain I had been in lately. I warned you time and time again, and yet you said you still wanted me. You chose me.

We would fall for each other so quickly. The comfort and love we would feel embraced in one another’s arms would shelter us from the world and all our fears. We would lay there staring at one another in silence: “I am so thankful you chose life” — the only thing that would be said from either of us in the next allotment of time.

We would encourage one another and continuously build one another up. We would write notes to each other about our hopes and dreams for the future. We would bond over our similar experiences and trauma. We continued to rise from the darkness we had experienced in a world before “us.”

One day fear would catch up with us and everything would unravel. We would quickly recognize the amount of fear that was created around the concept that our bond would only continue to grow, and we would have the power to destroy one another. Our fear of the unknown would destroy everything we had built, and we would agree our mental illness and deep fears would win this battle.

You came to say goodbye. We lay there as we always had, interlaced with one another. Tears would fill our eyes and I would watch as your bottom lip began to quiver. We knew this relationship held too much power and would only continue to gain power. It needed to end now.

You would walk out of my house and every trace of you would vanish from my life as you took those steps away. It was as though we had never existed. Everything was gone and I began to question if my memories were even real, or if everything had been a long-lasting dream.

I no longer have any means to contact you as we made the decision to protect ourselves from any pain. But if I could, I would tell you how thankful I am for the raw emotion and warmth we brought one another, even if just for such a short period of time.

I pray we can take the good away from this situation and continue to feel the softness of one another in the things we do. I pray you know your worth and that you never settle for less. I pray you always choose life.

Unsplash image by Khamkeo Vilaysing

Originally published: February 4, 2022
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