I lit some incense last night, and I thought of you. I remembered how, in our early days, we would go shopping for incense and candles together. At the time, it did not seem like anything interesting or special. It was just something we had in common. How many times did we snuggle on the couch with a movie or music playing, and some amazing smell filling our noses? I don’t know when we stopped buying incense together. I don’t know when we stopped lighting good smells together, but it does seem to me that just as smoke drifts away, so did we drift away from each other.
I remember thinking there could never be a time I could love anyone more than you. I’ve never blamed you; I’ve never blamed me. It would seem we were a candle untended. The flame once flickered warmly and beautifully, and as time marched on and we grew ignorant, our flame choked, sputtered, and died. That calm peaceful feeling I had in your arms was replaced with anger and dread. I did not want to be near you anymore. While I do still love you, it’s different. My love for you is like scorch marks inside a candle jar now. The flame was there, and you can see the marks, but it doesn’t burn. It just exists; a remnant of a fire long gone. My love for you is a permanent reminder to never take life for granted.
As I think of you, I don’t even wish things could have been different anymore. I’ve analyzed every angle and possibility of where I went wrong and where you went wrong, and I come to the same conclusion. I did not love you as you are. I loved you as I wished you would be. All of the candles, incense, and quiet moments cannot change the fact that I lied to myself and said it was unconditional love. I think the same holds true for you. When I love you comes with a tacit asterisk, no amount of words will change reality. It is a shame it took so long to realize that neither of our words matched our actions. I’m happier not with you, and that truth made me sad. I never thought there would be a time where my arms would be my sole comfort, and I would prefer them to yours.
I can’t say that continuing to buy incense together would have changed things. I wonder, though, if we had paid more attention, we would have noticed that we both let everything that was special and ours fall away. Maybe we could have noticed the best parts of each other were being destroyed by the other one. Maybe the end would not have been such a shocking relief. Maybe the end would have come sooner. It has taken so long to become grateful for the end, because the end had terrified me. As our flames died, inevitable became a common thought, though I fought to make it false. You were to be my always, and now you are my before.
Being with you was like starting a bonfire with damp wood, and my soul suffered for it. I don’t blame you; I don’t blame me. I can’t, nor would I want to, change our path. I am grateful we finally accepted that we came to a fork. I went the road less traveled, and you did not seem to want to go anywhere. I thrive on growth and change, and you seem to want to sink your roots deep into the earth and remain. Now that I have accepted the end, and shed the burden of our past, I feel passion and life burn through me where once a sputtering spark coughed and choked under the lies of conditional love. My self-imposed prison of being yours has turned into an ocean of possibility. Thank you for trying to love me, and thank you for being the mistake that taught me to love myself enough to walk away when you are being choked.
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