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Over the course of your life you will undoubtedly be blessed to meet a handful of people who will leave a lasting impression upon you. Most of us move about the world shielding our souls with a protective coat of armor. We don’t allow the average passerby or acquaintance to see what’s underneath the surface of our skin. It’s our human nature to be guarded and protective of our well being. This is somewhat unfortunate. For the most meaningful relationships in this life are formed when we allow ourselves to be completely open and vulnerable to another person. When we let down the wall that protects us, we are able to offer so much more. And the other person reciprocates because they sense that we are genuine and of good intentions. It’s a beautiful thing. Once you have connected with someone on that level, you will forever carry their memory and spirit with you. Because they’ve gained access to your world, to the best and worst of you…and they’ve touched your heart.

I had an amazing relationship with my girlfriend from California. We had surpassed even the intimacy that I mentioned above. In fact, it was more of a mutual adoration. And yet shockingly, in the process of my recovery I lost sight of all of that. I got back on my feet and found myself completely wrapped up in being an immature 20 year old, and I sacrificed one of the best things that had ever happened to me.

I won’t lie to you and tell you that the moment she walked out the door I knew that I had made the biggest mistake of my life. I felt shame and sadness, and I was sick over the pain that I had caused her, but I wasn’t immediately aware of the serious consequences of my actions. My mind was ill. I was wrapped up in the fantasy of that summer’s affair. I was embracing my independence and I wasn’t thinking clearly.

My girlfriend had decided that she could not stay with me in the apartment. And while that hurt, I understood her choice to move out. She would end up finding a roommate in an apartment complex only a couple of miles away. I give her enormous credit for her strength. She was not going to leave school, she would continue the semester. That took tremendous courage. I can’t begin to imagine how hard it all must have been for her, particularly because she was so far away from her family.

In the time that I spent alone I quickly began to realize the reality of the situation, and I was completely regretful of my actions. I missed her so much, and I wanted her back in my life more than anything. We would call and talk and we’d see each other on a somewhat regular basis. But it was hard on her, every time. I could see it in her eyes. Many nights she’d stop by and she’d give it her best effort to remain calm and sweet on the surface and then we’d begin conversing and the littlest thing would send her through a whirlwind of emotions. She’d cry hysterically, scream at me, and run out for no real apparent reason. She couldn’t mask the pain that she was feeling inside. I think she truly did want to forgive me and move forward, but her heart just wouldn’t allow her to. And she really did give it every opportunity…

I tried everything that I could to show her I was a changed man and that I had realigned my priorities. I begged and pleaded with her to give us a second chance. I made her all kinds of gifts straight from the heart to show her how much I truly appreciated having her as a part of my life. And I apologized over and over again for my actions and promised her that I would never take her for granted again.

But I had betrayed her trust, and I had broken her heart, and after a couple of months she had settled on the decision that she could not give our relationship another shot. I know she wanted to, but it was far too painful. The memory of my affair that summer would always haunt her. If the day came that she could put the past behind her, perhaps then we’d be able to reconvene. But it wasn’t going to happen any time soon. She was devastated. So just like I had done a year earlier, she decided it was in her best interest to leave North Carolina and head home where she could find the support system and the strength that she needed to get well.

I was shocked. I had convinced myself beyond all doubt that we would find a way to make it through this setback. And now my worst nightmare was becoming a reality. She was leaving. She was not just moving across town, she was moving across the country. I knew what that meant. It would be a far more difficult venture to try to heal our relationship with 3,000 miles separating us. I didn’t want to believe it, but I knew in my heart that I was losing her for good. Was it really possible to say goodbye to someone who had such a profound impact on your life like this? What if I never saw her again?

And then she was gone…out of my life as if she had never been a part of it at all. I was completely devastated and lost. And more than anything, I was disgusted with myself. I fell deep into a pit of sadness and depression. And it wasn’t long before my anxiety began knocking at the door again.

I needed to get my life back in order before it spun completely out of control…

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