My Fallen Warrior
Written by: Kirsten Eagleson
This isn’t any typical love story because the Warrior and I are not typical people. I was faced with one of the most difficult decisions of my life. To stay and to fight like crazy for my best friend, or to let him go. Both choices hurt. When he is fighting mental illness, there’s no easy answer. At seventeen years old it was all over our heads. I do believe we did our best, but it wasn’t enough.
We had something beautiful once, it pains me to know that all of that is gone. Probably forever this time. Just when I thought I had found my safe haven in his arms, it all came crashing down. For so long he was a good thing for me, but now, I wonder.
I met him in eighth grade technology class but we didn’t talk much and become friends until our freshman gym class. At that point It was half way through our freshman year. I was desperate for new friends. My story isn’t a pretty one. I felt that I would never find anyone who understood me.
On January 20th of 2014 he changed my entire world. It was the beginning of our journey together. I hadn’t wanted to talk to him at first because he was a boy, but I kept feeling like I had to. While we understood each other with an incredibly unique connection, eventually we found that we were not a likely match for each other too. With his Social Anxiety and my high energy that I now know is ADHD, we were two teenagers who didn’t know what we would be in for. However, I didn’t feel like I had to hide my own mental illness. He saw my challenges as beautiful unlike anyone had before.
In February of 2015, I asked him to the Sweethearts Ball. This was the first time either of us had ever been on a date in our lives. This is the point that we realized we loved each other. I can still remember how beautiful his eyes were when they were focused on mine. The way he smiled at me when our eyes met was amazing. I remember how timid he was to dance at first until I took his hand and led him out to the middle of the dance floor. In that moment we were the only two on that dance floor. I took the lead and taught him how to dance that first slow dance. I remember him shaking in my arms, but he smiled with a smile so big you would've thought he just found the happiest moment of his life. I felt like I could do anything with him by my side. There was an energy in the way we sang the lyrics to each other. They were everything we had been afraid to tell each other.
Unfortunately, there was aftermath to the magic we cherished that night. His friend was jealous and sought to break our relationship until it came crashing down. However, his friend had not expected us to turn him into the police for cyberbullying. The Warrior and I made a commitment to each other. We would stand up for each other even in the face of horrible rumors. This was our first walk through a bit of hell together.
The summer of 2015 was hard. We didn’t see each other for an entire month and a half due to our summer trips. The distance put a strain on us. We talked about going on another date. By this point I had been out with a few other people. He told me he felt like I had ignored him a lot that summer but I assured him that I really did want to talk to him. I didn't always have access to the internet and I still had a phone with limited minutes.
We planned our second date together to be a double with the Warriors best friend and his crush. We took a picnic as a group to First Dam at the lake side. We played games together and laughed harder that I’d laughed in awhile. I remember how good it felt to be with the Warrior again after that month and half of trips and separation by miles. Again, I felt like I was home. We took a walk around the lake together just the Warrior and I to enjoy the sunset.
“Would it be weird if I held your hand?” He asked.
“No, why would it be?” I replied.
He reached for my hand and slipped his fingers between mine. I smiled back at him. His fingers sent energy all up my arm that rushed through me. I was finally home, out in nature with the Warrior by my side. I inhaled deeply taking it all in as we stood hand in hand at the far edge of the lake. It was absolutely perfect.
This date was our hope. For a long time we had been afraid to go on another date together because of how painful the rumors were after Sweethearts Ball. We needed to go on that second date, not just for us but to heal. Going on this second date together screamed loud and clear that we wouldn’t let anyone else break us apart.
As the leaves changed and the air turned cold, so did our relationship for a while. The Warrior wanted me close but pushed me away, then wanted me close again. I didn’t understand until the day he told me that he was suicidal.
He was angry that I told his parents how much he needed help. For two months we didn’t speak to each other. Every time I saw him around school I wanted to run up and hug him so hard that I squeezed the frown right out of him. He was the only one that I felt truly understood where I had been. Through it all, we still loved each other. Once love grips your heart it doesn’t let go.
Onward we went, setting new guidelines. We had to communicate with each other, that was for sure. I faced mounting homework and hardly got a chance to sit with our group at lunch. Finally, he started coming with me to the ACT classes because he knew how lonely I was. I had found a place to be tested for my academic challenges and he was the only one I told how afraid I was of those test results.
On February 1st, 2016 I was diagnosed with ADHD and SLD’s. He was the only friend I told about the diagnosis as well. I was so embarrassed and afraid of the diagnosis I kept it on the inside hidden away from my pears as much as I could.
Junior Prom came around and he asked me to prom the same day. I knew that his act of asking me to Prom took every ounce of courage he had. I knew that asking me meant he’d have to fight his Social Anxiety something fierce. Going to Prom with him made me feel like the luckiest girl around. That night was incredible. We took song requests with us on three by five index cards. Being with him again on the dance floor was exhilarating. It was a reminder that he had always been my favorite dance partner.
That night I shared my first kiss with him under the moonlight. It was amazing how that first kiss made me shine and I knew at that moment that we would share more. There is no one else I would rather share that special kiss with. Even now I never have given my lips to another.
I thought that night that we could really be together. The painful truth is that there came a time when we couldn’t hold together anymore. This year everything changed. My Warrior hit a roadblock with his mental illness. I couldn’t see just how big his fight really was. I regret that. It's painful to know that his roadblock is what ultimately shattered us. I have come to realize that he understood me so well because he was on a level high above mine that no one understood.
I never expected to feel like he had betrayed me, for him to push me away so far that it shattered our relationship or for it to hurt so much. I could run, and he would shatter. I could stay and he could shatter. There was no easy answer. I don’t want him to feel like I gave up on him because that isn’t the truth.
He always said “I won't give up on us” like the song I Won’t Give Up On Us by Jason Mraz. We called it our song and it still makes me think of him. Now the song sends chills down my back and tears to my eyes. It is so close to our story that it just reminds me that he did give up when we never intended to end our relationship.
“I won't give up on us, even if the skies get rough. I'm giving you all my love, I'm still looking up
And when you're needing your space, to do some navigating….I'll be here patiently waiting, to see what you find. 'Cause even the stars they burn. Some even fall to the earth .We've got a lot to learn. God knows we're worth it. No, I won't give up”
“I don't wanna be someone who walks away so easily, I'm here to stay and make the difference that I can make. Our differences they do a lot to teach us how to use, The tools and gifts we got yeah, we got a lot at stake. And in the end, you're still my friend at least we did intend, For us to work we didn't break, we didn't burn. We had to learn how to bend without the world caving in
I had to learn what I've got, and what I'm not and who I am”
I Won’t Give Up - Jason Mraz
After he essentially broke up with me he wanted to immediately carry on still being best friends. At the same time he picked apart everything wrong with me. He had never done that before. I walked away knowing that sometimes it is better to walk away for a while rather than to hurt each other more. My intention wasn’t to end it.
I want to be the girl in his arms but i'm not. It was the ultimate betrayal after I had been through so much with him. Knowing that I can't be good enough for the Warrior is knowing that I lost everything! It’s horrible to know that he gave me up for someone else! He was always the one who made me feel accepted but now, he just makes me feel like everything is my fault and I know that it isn’t. We had so much going for us.
I realized that he doesn’t know what he lost with me yet. When this cycle of brutal demons in his head ends he will see what he did to me. When he does come back to his senses, I hope that he can cope with it. My Warrior lost his battle against mental illness. He has fallen to his demons.