The Day I Stopped Choosing You

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The Day I Stopped Choosing To Love You

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 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.

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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 ignored family 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.

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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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Emily Lingenfelser is a 20-something mom who writes and captures moments to make sense of this messy world. She's a teen mom, cancer survivor, and all-around badass who pretends to know what she's doing.

This article was originally published at Reprinted with permission from the author.