I was wearing the same shirt he proposed to me in when I opened the door.
"I can't do this anymore." He said.
Everything in the world started spinning. I clutched the golden stair rail.
"Have you talked to your therapist?" I asked as if his statement wasn't founded in sanity.
"Yes." He said shakily as he held back tears. "I can't stay long, Kama. This is the hardest thing I've ever done."
"I know you're struggling to do this right now, but this is hard for me too and I'll need to ask you a few questions. For me." I said surprisingly groundedly.
"I completely understand." He softened as a tear rolled down his face.
We sat in the living room of my parents' house where we'd shared so many lovely memories over the last six years. It was just one of many places we'd spent time together. We'd called a lot of places home: LA, Lake Arrowhead, Puerto Rico and most of the map of the world. We traveled far and wide. We launched businesses together. We learned together. We grew together. We did everything together. Our life was one life.
"Just be honest with me," I said earnestly, "why?"
"I wish I could give you an answer." He said through weeping tears. "I WISH I could give you an answer!" He said beside himself and quite uncharacteristically to his normal steadiness.
We both paused with our hearts beating in our throats and stinging tears blurring our eyes.
"Is it that you love me, but you aren't in love with me?" I asked with courage.
"No, Kama! You're my first true love!" He howled with pain. "There are no words. It's just... a gut feeling... and I can't fight it anymore."
My mind flashed to last December where in unison, we first toyed with the idea of postponing our wedding.
"Why do we feel relieved by that if nothing is wrong with us?" We'd asked.
"Maybe we're just supposed to be... best friends." One of us said, stealing the words from the other's heavy lungs.
We cried into each other's arms until daybreak.
We postponed our wedding after a solid month of personal work on an individual level and a month-long intensive of couples therapy.
"Maybe she can help us figure out what's wrong with us." I said hopefully.
"Maybe she'll see something we don't!" He said.
She, our couples therapist, sat there day after day nearly as dumbfounded as we were.
"You have great communication, so much respect for one another, no egos involved, pure devotion and willingness, a deep emotional connection and so much love," she said through what seemed like a giggle, "I see you being able to overcome any hurdle - even if there was one. Why don't you reach me if you need me?" She suggested.
Confounded, we continued our work and forced her to stay and hold our hands on a weekly basis. We wanted her to decide for us, but that's not how it works.
We had one week before vendors were charging their second payments. He professed his love for me again and again this final week and in dark humor, we laughed often that regardless, a relationship this good deserves a wedding.
Still, I urged us to use every last drop of our time to carefully decide how we wanted to move forward.
On the last day of our deadline to postpone, I journaled freely outside in the shade.
I want to be chosen. I want to be chosen. I want to be chosen. I wrote.
Is it true? I asked myself.
Yes. I replied.
I want to choose him. I wrote.
Is it true? I asked myself.
I stared blankly as my heart beat in my ears. I couldn't breathe. I didn't want to breathe. I didn't want to know the truth.
After a long, hard avoidant pause I decided the only thing I knew was that we'd have to postpone the wedding.
When I told Nick, he cried. We cried. We sat on a seesaw in a park like lost little kids and shared comforting words and intentions. Our hearts were heavy and confused, but we were so supportive of one another. So full of care and integrity. We weren't giving up - we just weren't ready to get married, we decided.
But when I walked into the bathroom that night and closed the door behind me, I fell to my knees and scream-cried into the floor. I slammed my fists into the cement walls hoping I could break this building down with every knuckle-gashing strike so maybe - just maybe - I could feel the way I wanted to feel in this relationship. I would've done anything. I'd done everything... and for that, despite all my abnegation, I was buckling and crestfallen under the weight of the truth.
Six hellish months went by. Not between Nick and I. We never ceased to treat each other like the holy beings we saw each other as. We laughed daily, loved infinitely and supported each other truly. But life dealt us a tough deck of cards: the death of Nick's father, a personal bout of extreme illness, a few family crises and the recovery we were supposed to be doing kept getting put on the back-burner.
When we got back to California, it was like someone had clicked the play button in the story that was our love and future. It has been eight months since we'd clicked pause. What would have been our wedding had already passed.
"I'm better than this." I finally broke. "I can't keep waiting for us to come back to where we left off. What are we doing? Where are we going?"
We sobbed. The feelings in my soul kept creeping up and I knew something had to change, but I didn't want to change. I wanted to fight everything inside of me. But I knew. I'd known for a long time.
In my parents' living room, in the pain of our new reality and after a long, voiceless lull, I finally took a deep breath. A hot tear streamed down my face and onto the same shirt I got engaged in. "I don't know if this makes things better or worse for us, but... I know exactly what you're talking about." I said through a quivering human lip and an exhale of my soul. "I know that gut feeling and I've been fighting it too."
We both wept. We both knew.
"I think you're really brave." I said, breaking through the tears. "I fought and fought that inner voice that told us we shouldn't be together because it just didn't make any human sense. I could've fought that voice for a lifetime, but you were brave enough to listen to it." I couldn't believe the words that came next, but I meant them sincerely: "Thank you."
We wailed in the wake of our truth.
But sweet loves, the all-knowing voice of our souls said, the truth sets you free.
If we truly are both a human and a soul, I believe our humans were happy ever after. What we had was kind, genuine, loving, respectful and deep. But our souls have something else planned for us. We are truth-seekers, depth-finders, and spiritual beings (even if Nick doesn't call himself one). We're far too intuitive and true to force what isn't aligned for our path. We don't know what is, but we trust in the journey - even in the dark. There was nothing wrong with us, which makes for a painful story, but also a true and beautiful one. The cleanest relationship had the cleanest break. One which is laced with so much compassion that my therapist admitted that in her thirty years of practice, she has never seen two people end a romantic relationship with more care. We have no regrets. We couldn't have done anything more. We have accepted this completion with pain, but reverence.
If this were a UFC fight (our fave), God was the ref and Nick and I were the fighters. We were committed. We were in it. We were rearing and ready, but seemingly for no good reason, the ref called the fight.
Why!? I shouted.
Just trust me. The ref said.
We have to trust. The ref said. Nick surrendered with the integrity he's always had.
Screw you, you bitch! I shouted at the ref with the rebellious spirit I've always had.
Just trust me. The ref said.
So eventually, I did. We did. And we do. And we will.
Nick and I hold the vision of friendship. We know it takes time and effort, but for us, it's worth it. We've been each other's biggest fans and deepest confidantes for six beautiful years. The love and gratitude we have for one another is an otherworldly kind of benevolent. It's clean. It's fair. It's true.
Where most people want someone they once loved romantically to suffer, we only want the other to thrive. In fact, it's damn near the most important thing in the world to us because when you truly love someone, you set them free. And we both love each other too much to not be free.