Paper Rainbows and a Long Goodbye

H and I knew our relationship would end five years before we let it go. We watched it sputter and backfire for all those years without once acknowledging the truth. We knew we were broken, but we only gave the wreckage the right label a decade after we’d ended it. You’d think five years was opportunity enough to mend a wreck if we wanted it fixed badly enough, but neither of us was willing to go that far. We just wanted to keep the magic for as long as we could, so that’s exactly what we did.

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Sometimes, I wish we’d done the difficult thing and fixed ourselves instead of giving up on our connection. The truth, though, is we weren’t changing our fucked up habits because our relationship’s foundation was brokenness. I enabled his refusal to build a stable, sober life. He enabled my refusal to heal from trauma and my own brand of oblivion.

The sex-fuelled, romance-laden magic between us was as good as heroin. I was his escape and he was mine. If we’d not had our relationship, our toxic way of life would have had real consequences—we would have been lonely, miserable, and in pain, so we built a fake house with plastic trees and a paper rainbow in the garden.

The film, The Long Goodbye, speaks of a “plastic smile people wear when they’re trying not to scream.” That describes H and I perfectly: two grinning idiots trying not to scream because life had ruined us and we weren’t yet willing to stop being victims. I’m quite sure I would never have sought help and worked towards healing if I still had him to enable me.

I’ve no doubt he loved me, but sometimes love is the most damaging thing you can offer.

Some of us need the harsh light of day to make us uncomfortable enough to change, and H and I were made only of starlight. Leaving was the most loving thing he ever did for me. I have real rainbows now.


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