I’ve sat down to write this post many, many times. Each time it wasn’t me, it wasn’t my voice and it wasn’t the tone I wanted to portray when I publicly wrote about this. I needed to write this at a time when I’ve been far enough removed both physically and emotionally from that situation in order to tell it truthfully as I saw it to the best of my ability. I’ve gotten A LOT of questions about this, which is understandable when you live your life on the internet. I went from posting engagement stories and photos of Ryan and I to absolutely nothing. I can see how that comes off as odd if you’re someone looking in from the outside, so here’s the story, here’s my truth.
First things first – I didn’t want to be engaged. I thought I did. After much exploration and honesty with myself, I now know that I didn’t. I convinced myself I did because I thought I knew what love was (I didn’t) and I thought I was doing what I was supposed to be doing with my life. We were not compatible as a partnership or a couple in the long run. Seeing each other for a few weeks constantly and then being apart for a few weeks (he in Orlando, me in Baltimore) never gave us the time needed to really understand how our flaws and talents were and were not compatible. I did tell Ryan I wouldn’t move to Florida unless we were engaged, at the time I couldn’t see myself moving so far away from everything and everyone I loved for something that might or might not have a future. But guess what I learned? A ring doesn’t determine that either, surprise. There were A LOT of red flags in that relationship that I swept under the rug, that I put off as not being so bad.
I should have paid more attention.
I tried to relocate several times to Orlando, but work was just not in the cards for me there. A blessing in disguise. Ryan called me a liar on that but I did try. I had several interviews and sent out countless applications – some for jobs I didn’t even really want. Photography and journalism isn’t much in demand in Orlando, the Disney consumer cesspool capital of America. Also, Orlando personally didn’t cut it for me creatively speaking. It wasn’t what I wanted and it never was no matter how hard I tried to assimilate myself or lie to myself about it otherwise.
5/10/18 – Ryan proposed to me at the BWI airport in front of a bunch of strangers – my goddamn nightmare. Three days later I found out about the mass in my dad’s brain, the cancer. Life works in funny ways you know. I went from being happy to absolutely miserable. I was supposed to go to Florida for an entire month to job search in Tampa, a city Ryan agreed to move to and later retracted, but that was off the table. My dad didn’t have anyone but me and I had to stay in Baltimore to take care of him.
The entire summer was madness. I spent hours every day on the phone with doctors and insurance people and advocates trying to get my dad into treatment. Ryan tried to help but you can’t really do much when you’re 1000+ miles away. All I wanted to do was sleep, not hear about the millions of things I should *also* be doing. As if taking care of my dad, handling doctors appointments, paying everyone’s bills, having four hour phone conversations with everyone who could possibly help my dad and fighting with insurance wasn’t enough to make me want to throw myself into traffic. His way of helping was telling me what to do in a situation that he never experienced.
If you read Part 1 of this depressing as fuck series, you’ll know that my dad died two months later and I ended the engagement two days before his services. I’m sure you want to know the trigger, the tipping point…..
8/9/18 – After my dad died it took Ryan almost two weeks to come to Maryland to see me. Part of that was because he had a boss who wouldn’t allow it. When he got into my car he slumped in the front seat and got on his phone. Communication had been rough and we had been fighting a lot, mainly because of the insane amount of stress I was under. I didn’t want to talk and when I did I was just so tired and so angry. I felt alone all the time. We drove in silence to my house, I took a call from my friend Aaron who was worried about me. He showed me more love and kindness than Ryan did in that entire airport pick up.
We met up with my friend, I told him about how I might take a teaching job this fall. I knew I was going to be responsible for my dad’s house during probate. He didn’t have life insurance or a will, so we had to go the long route. The mortgage still had to be paid and the house is worth more than triple what he paid for it. I’d be an idiot to let it foreclose. Ryan got upset at the possibility of me staying in Baltimore for an undetermined amount of time. Understandable, yet I had no option. The rest of the day was tense.
Later that night we were talking and it escalated. He asked me that if my mom died, would I move into her house too? I felt like I moved in slow motion. No one who loves someone to the degree that they would marry them would say that. My dad had just died and the last thing I wanted to think about is my mom dying too. The answer was, yes, yes I would move into her house because I would be the guardian of my younger siblings. I got the ring box, put the ring back into the box and gave it to him. His mom came to get him. I spent the night alone and the next two days alone.
8/11/18- Ryan did come to my dad’s services a few days later. He stayed the whole time. He left after it was over and didn’t come to the celebration of my dad’s life with friends and family. He got into his parent’s borrowed car and left for Florida that night, canceling his flight for that following Monday. That was the last time I saw him.
8/19/18 – In the weeks that followed things weren’t settled. We were still together, not engaged. I ended the relationship officially on this day. A few days later I went to LA for some downtime with my best friend. When I was out there I saw Ryan had been hanging out with a girl he worked with while we were together, someone he posted videos about on his social media. She’s eight years younger than him and he is now dating her, a fact that I called out and he argued with me tooth and nail about. They later posted a video of them singing a song together Ryan wrote about me, True Colors. A song about how awful of a person I was. Weird and cringe in its own right but even worse when it’s done by someone who didn’t even know me or the tragedy I had just been through. At the end of the day though, I’m sure their song “singing” isn’t much different than me blogging about my experiences.
We tried momentarily to be peaceful and to explore a friendship at the later part of November/early December. I gave him advice on dating someone so young and my thoughts on that and opinions. They had a lot of red flags too, of which I’ll keep private since this is about me and my experiences and not his new relationship. He’d call me 3x a day to just talk up until February, most of the time I just listened. My life was kept mostly private from him. At the end of January/beginning of February I realized that it was a toxic friendship, just like it was a toxic relationship. I hated when he called me and it would put me in a bad mood. I didn’t need to answer ever again. I explained that I had no hard feelings and that I just wanted to leave it in the past where it should be left. He said he understood and that was that.
I’ll spare the stories of the nasty emails (yes emails because he was blocked on everything else), friends getting involved and rumors flying around because that doesn’t matter now. ALL of it got me to where I am now. It was unsettling how quickly I got over the love part of the relationship. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t bitter about the way he treated me during a time in my life when I needed someone, anyone to stand by me. But looking at it with clear eyes I am SO THANKFUL that it’s over. I’m sure he is too. We both get to live in the cities we want to live in, date the people we actually want to be with, and work the jobs that we love.
Ending my engagement was terrifying. I had my life planned out and then it was yanked out from under me. I felt terrified but, also, I felt so free. I felt that I had been honest with myself for the first time in a long, long time. The moment I gave that ring back I felt sadness but also like I finally let out a breath I had been holding for so, so long. I could be apologetically me again and I could focus on healing and crafting my life the way I wanted, not trying so hard to fit into someone else’s life. If you’re in this situation and feel the way I felt, GET OUT. It might hurt and cause issues for a little bit but I PROMISE it’s better than the alternative.
Today I’m with someone that I actually DO love. I know I do because I just know, it was never a question. Someone that doesn’t make me feel guilty for feeling things the way I feel them. Someone who will sit and talk with me when something comes up, someone who cares enough about me as a person to know that love is about trust and communication, not just tallying up the nice things you do for someone. Someone who effortlessly has fit with me since day one. G, I love ya. Thank you, thank you, thank you. There will be more on this, but he deserves his own post and story at a later date.