By Emily Lingenfelser
In choosing you, I stopped choosing myself.
I chose you.
Every single moment for six hundred and thirty-three days, I chose to love you. To believe you. To forgive you. To embrace you.
I chose to stand by you even when times got tough and nearly unbearable. Even when I had lost nearly everything and knew I probably should stop, I kept choosing you.
Maybe I thought that you would change, that things would get better. Maybe I just had nobody else and incredibly low self-esteem. Something that you constantly reminded me of. Maybe I just wanted you to f*cking choose me back. Just one time. Once.
If I walked away, I had nothing except wasted time and a broken heart. This had to be worth it, I thought to myself. You had to be worth it. I saw something that nobody else saw. I knew you. Right?
But I ignored everything. I dismissed red flags and deal-breakers and all the standards I had made for myself. I found myself making up excuses for you, being too understanding. Caving and bending and breaking every step of the way.
In choosing you, I begin to stop choosing me. I stopped choosing the things that I loved, the people that I loved. Choosing you was all-consuming. It took everything inside me to do it. To continue to love you and stick around every single day, I lost myself.
And then I started to believe that I didn't have a choice anymore. Loving you was the only thing I had, and I couldn't give that up, too.
So, I stayed. I stayed much longer than I should and much longer than I wanted. I ignoredfamily and friends telling me to leave, to get out, to choose myself. How could I do that to you? I thought that I was helping you, fixing you. This was my only purpose in the world: choosing you.
You had slowly convinced me that I deserved it all. I deserved you and the pain and the choice of choosing somebody who never chooses you back. Nobody would ever choose me, you said. I was lucky.
But today is the day that I stop choosing you.
I deleted all the pictures of you from my Facebook. The happy times that never seemed to last. I watched as our smiling faces disappeared, and I cried at how it was possible to both love and hate somebody.
There were so many good memories mixed in with the bad. There was so much longing and desire still left, but also so much pain. Unbearable amounts of pain.
I never wanted to stop choosing you. Even as I type these words, my heart aches. For you. For us. For you to just finally choose me back. And I wonder how long it will feel like this. I imagine time will dull the discomfort, make life a little more tolerable.
Every day that I stop choosing you, I will start choosing me. I will choose my children and my photography and my books and my writing. I will choose to remember what I love about myself and perhaps begin to fall in love with life again.
Every moment that I don't choose you, I will get stronger. Happier. Wiser. I will realize that I made the right choice, and I will continue to make it until I find somebody new to choose. Somebody to love me the way that I deserve. The way that I have always deserved but never really knew.
The day I stopped choosing you will, one day, be a distant memory. But for now, for the moment, it will be a sad, emotional day that I wish wasn't happening.
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