House Beautiful

I Loved. I Lost.

With great love comes the possibility of great loss.  We’ve talked a lot these past few months about hugging your parents, because we’re at the age where they can start to go unexpectedly.  I’ve seen it happen too many times this year to count.  We’ve talked about holding the people you love dear and squeezing them extra tight, because life can change on a dime.  In the blink of an eye.  In a New York minute.

…And has it ever.

I am the girl who waited it out.  I held out through my 20’s and through millions of bridesmaid dresses.  I held out through all the inappropriate “are you a lesbian?” and “when are you going to settle down already?” questions, and smiled, and said, “whenever I find the right person!”  I met dozens of genuinely wonderful dudes, but never really went past a 2nd date because I knew myself well enough to know – in my gut – none of them were right for me.  My New Year’s Resolution one year was even to try to give people a chance…  that didn’t last long.  I always got that feeling I call “the quease” when I was hanging out with the wrong guy – and everyone was the wrong guy.  After awhile, I resolved that maybe not everybody gets to have everything.  I was already so lucky – I had an amazing family, more than my share of amazing friends, and a completely blessed life…  maybe I just didn’t get to have the kind of love I wanted.  That was how I rationalized it.  I was perfectly happy being on my own.

Then – about 2 years ago – I met him.  Our chemistry was instant – we’re talking trumpets, fireworks, and 4th graders playing footsie under the table.  After the longest and best 1st date ever, I felt like I’d known him for 10 years.  After being together 2 weeks, I felt like I’d known him forever, but just hadn’t met him until then.  He felt like home.  He was wonderful, sweet, attentive, brutally upfront and honest about himself and his flaws, and all we did was laugh.  And hold hands.  Everything all of a sudden made sense, and I thought, “No wonder.  THIS is why I waited so long.  Thank God I held out, because in the end I got to find my other half.”

We were each others’ match, and everyone who knew us knew it.  We quickly moved in together.  Did holidays together.  Lived in a house full of love and hilarity.  We were a team.  He kissed me every morning when we woke up, told me he loved me, then went downstairs to make me coffee.  We took walks together.  We danced in the kitchen.  We made idiots of ourselves on every dance floor from New York to Mexico. He always reached for my hand first.  In fact, I would be hard-pressed to find many moments when my hand wasn’t in his.  We supported each other.  We sang each others’ praises.  We rooted for each other.  We traveled together.  People thought we were nuts, and we did not care.  He challenged me, and I challenged him.  He always took my hand and put it over his heart.  He left me sweet notes written on paper towels with Sharpies.

He bear-hugged and totally disarmed my grizzly bear of a Dad the first time they met.  We used to say that we knew we really loved each other because we would gladly wipe each others’ asses.  He liked to have his feet held, which I found totally weird and impossibly endearing.  For 600 nights, I fell asleep next to him, and for 600 mornings, he bear-hugged me in our kitchen. He made me laugh – saying things like, “when you wake up in the morning, you look like the kind of person who sniffs glue” and telling the cable lady that if she took away our Hallmark channel, he’d be sleeping in the street. We rarely fought… but when we did, we were better for it afterward.  We made each other better people.  We threw great parties.  We planned for the future, and we planned to grow old together.

Everyone who knew him pulled me aside and told me they’d never seen him happier… that he was calmer, settled… more patient. Everyone I knew said the same about me.  Sure – we had our share of issues, like anyone else – but it was a happy, happy life.  There was not one single day that I didn’t know how lucky we were, or that I woke up next to this man and took him for granted.  Not one day.  He was far from perfect, but I loved him – good, bad, ugly, baggage, all of it – and every day that we spent together I was filled with joy and gratitude, because I knew that what we had was something next-to-no-one is ever lucky enough to find.  I knew that whatever else happened, I got to come home to him at the end of the day, and that would make everything alright.  He was my family.  This was the person I loved and trusted more than anyone in the entire world.

Hindsight is 20/20, and I know now that there were warning signs, but I didn’t just want see any of them.  I thought I could love him through them.

In the blink of an eye, my life has turned upside down.  A switch flipped and everything spiraled out of control, without much of a plausible explanation.  I came home to an empty house, and it feels like someone died in here.  It feels like he was never really here to begin with, and that our life together never really happened.  I’ve heard of this kind of thing happening to people, but I never, ever, in a million years thought it could happen to us.  I’ve heard it said before that sometimes all the love in the world just isn’t enough, but I never really believed that to be true…  I thought it conquered all things.  Now I know that truer words have never been spoken, and that is the one of the cruelest possible realities to be faced with.  I feel like my guts have been wrenched out.  I am shattered.

The wound is still open and raw, and I don’t have all the answers, but I do know this: Whatever happens in the end, I will be fine.  I know it will have been for the best.  It doesn’t mean I won’t wake up every day for the next year or so and still struggle to remember where he went and what happened to our life together, but I know I loved as hard and as balls-to-the-wall as I knew how. I gave someone my entire heart and soul, and I know now that I have more capacity for love than I thought possible, and that I had the capacity to love someone enough to always see the best in them and to always put them first… that’s the way it’s supposed to be, and I’d never done that before.  No one could’ve predicted that anything like this could have happened, and while I want to feel like a fool, I just don’t.  I regret nothing, and in the end, I know I gave it everything I had.  Today I am in hell, and I’m sure I will be for some time.  And I may never understand what happened, but the 600 days we spent together were the best, the brightest and the happiest of my life, and I cannot regret that.  I also have to be so grateful for the amazing kindness I’ve been shown in the wake of this horrific, surreal ordeal:  friends who have force-fed me spaghetti, let me live on their couches, spooned me to sleep, and booked tickets to rush to my side without so much as a second thought.  The best Gus, ever, who knows something’s up and hasn’t eased off my lap in a week.  Parents who have more empathy and insight than I really ever thought possible.  And after all this, I know I’ll be a better human because of all those people. And no matter how things shake out, I know that I deserve to get the kind of love that I gave. They say there’s a silver lining in everything, and I guess that’s mine.

This too shall pass…  right?

Fall 2016:  Hi Guys!  Me again.  The above post was written almost 3 years ago; my decision to put that much raw material out into the world is now – as I look back – questionable, and was no doubt a knee jerk reaction to the most traumatizing thing that had ever happened at that point in my life. I logged onto our blog today to take it down, because I’ve been so far removed from it for such a long time that the feelings I had at the time scarcely even register; almost like being another person on the outside looking in. But… from what I understand, all that hoopla up there helped a lot of folks in one way or another, which was a thread of silver lining in the whole mess. So if there’s a chance it might help anyone else who stumbles upon it, then perhaps it’s best to leave it up. It’s foreign to me now but it is also one of a few experiences in my life that shaped me the most, and for that I am very grateful – no matter how horrifying it was at the time. I remember not being able to see the light at the end of the tunnel, and not understanding why/how any of it was happening… after that post was written, I quit a job I wasn’t happy with, left a place I didn’t love living in, threw Gus in the Uhaul and caution to the wind, and moved to California (where I had always dreamed of living) to pursue a career in Interior Design (which I had always, ALWAYS dreamed of doing). It was the single most invigorating and terrifying thing I have ever done. And it didn’t get better overnight – the sting of that loss stung for a long while – but I swear… one day I woke up living this technicolor, breezy existence in a little beach town, realized I was surrounded by a crop of the most salt-of-the-earth friends, felt sunshine on my face every day, and most days bounce between my favorite hot yoga class, the fish taco stand, and fabric showrooms. Because after a year and a half working for someone else, I started my own company, and I have never been happier. I feel like I’m EXACTLY where I’m supposed to be, and I could’ve never seen it then, but the universe had a bigger plan.

55 Responses to “I Loved. I Lost.”

  • Steph – I wish I could give you a hug right now, but take this e-hug, ok? This is heartbreaking to read and I can definitely relate. Just remember, we are a LOT stronger than we think.
    Take care,

    P.S. It’s 76 degrees in LA. Book a flight and we’ll take care of you out here for a while!

  • Stephanie my heart is breaking for you. Please know I’m sending virtual hugs your way too. Thank you for opening up in an honest way – ups and downs included. Now take your friend’s offer (above) and get out of the freezing cold midwest stat.

  • just like you, this post is honest, and real and beautiful. thank you so much for sharing. we are ALL blessed to have you in our lives. and I feel very very sorry for anyone who doesnt. so there.

  • Stephanie,

    I know we don’t know each other that well and I never met Matt but this just BROKE my heart. I’ve felt that gut wrenching heartache before and it’s the worst pain imaginable. But you definitely said it best – you loved with everything you had and know what it means to do so! Your time will come and it will be huge! Come on out to CA – I’d LOVE to see you and Karrie, I can take you to all my favorite showrooms and we can chat design.

    Talk soon – for now hang in there, surround yourself with girlfriends and fam to make you laugh and let you cry – hope your heart begins to heal soon and it will.

    Lots if love and big fat hug!

  • Steph,

    I am SO sorry for this horrible loss, I saw so much love and happiness in the photos and stories you shared over the past two years.

    The pain is real and at times unbearable. Hang in there, it will get a little bit easier every day.

    As someone told me when I was going through a very ugly divorce, “Tell yourself the truth and put one foot in front of the other.” That phrase helped me greatly during a very difficult time. You know you loved with your entire being, no regrets for not trying all that you could. Take each day as it comes, just keep moving forward.

    Thinking of you . . .


  • I know it hurts now but trust me it will pass. I lost the love of my life once and it took about 2 years to get over but now it’s like I never even knew him. There is someone better for you out there. One day you WILL meet someone who loves you like you deserve to be loved and treats you the way you should be treated and puts YOU first. I wanted to die when it happened to me but if it didn’t happen I wouldn’t be where I am today which is way better than where I was then. Time heals all wounds. It will take awhile though.

  • So sorry to hear this, Stephanie. You two did seem right for each other. Sometimes things just don’t work out and we don’t know why but they’re usually for the best. Things will look better as each day passes. Keep your chin up and a smile on your face. You will be in our thoughts and prayers. Love you.

    • Thanks so much Aunt Betty, I really appreciate that. Things are getting a little clearer and easier each day… I’m sure they’ll get worse again, but it’ll be ok in the end. Love you

  • Oh, Stephanie–it may sound trite and cliche, but I will have you in my prayers for as long as you need them. You are a beautiful, kind, fun, classy, elegant lady–oh, almost forgot SMART– and the world is a better place for what you bring to it. What you have written here is brave, honest, real, and straight from your gut. I agree with Melissa ( and I assume she is the one who is the sister of our mutual friend). Nuts to anyone who doesn’t cherish or appreciate you.

  • Oh girl!!!!! Stephie let me start by saying you are the bomb diggety girlfriend!! I mean that! I have told Doug before that “he”…meaning “that guy” is the luckiest dude on earth…to have YOU! You are an awesome and inspiring individual who deserves the moon. I actually applaud you for waiting, for not compromising!!! All I can say is that you never know…you still don’t know. Just pray my dear friend and God will hear your prayers…He will heal your hurting heart and He know who is perfectly right for you! I am SOOO sorry and I know it is hurt like no other:( I wish I was close by to eat cookie dough and curl up in the couch with you!!! Many Hugs!!! Nikki

  • I don’t know you but love covet living and all your posts. You are truly a special woman and this post just proves it. You will find your great love because you know you can love with all your heart and soul. Thank you for sharing and I hope you know how truly extraordinary you are.

  • Steph, reading this post brought tears to my eyes. This was so heartfelt and beautifully written and I applaud you for being so open and honest. My heart breaks for you but I know you’ll come out better in the end. You’re such a strong, talented, beautiful girl. There is no advice for a broken heart because they all heal differently. “Someday you’re gonna look back on this moment of your life as such a sweet time of grieving. You’ll see that you were in mourning and your heart was broken, but your life was changing…” -Elizabeth Gilbert

    Hugs to you!

  • Totally feeling for you sister! Sending you lots of hugs and love!

    • Steph, sending lots and lots of HUGS. Nothing I can say to make it any better…I know, I’ve been there several times. Heartache is the WORST. Hang in there, it will get better and you’ll be wiser and stronger for it. Focus on all the good things in your life, take it one day at a time and move forward. The BEST is yet to come. Just think, if I’d never gotten divorced, I’d never had the chance to date the one legged nudist, howdy doody and the one eyed cyclop or the chance to run that straw up my nose on my blind date! Just joking. The rainbow does come after the storm. Love ya.

      • OMG, that is the funniest thing I’ve ever read. I just cackled and coughed on the person next to me on the plane. Love you Aunt Lou, and I know you’re right 🙂 Thank you so much. Please hug Ugly for me.

    • Thanks so much honey. HI5 long distance!

  • I am so sorry Stephanie. This article is amazing and it comes from the heart. I wish I could say I don’t know what you are feeling but I do know and there are no real words to help. I am thinking about you though and can promise it will get better.

  • Beautiful and heartbreaking. I truly believe the best is yet to come for you.

  • That was so hard to read. It broke my heart for you. You are so smart, funny and not to mention GORGEOUS – you have everything going for you!! There are so many doors waiting for you…it takes time but everything will be alright 🙂

  • It’s always darkest before the dawn. You are an intelligent, strong and beautiful young woman. Better days are ahead. – TW

  • love all of these comments which show how much love and support you have girl. I don’t worry about you…I worry about anyone who loses this in their life.

  • Tough read! I appreciate the fact that your willing to put it all out there for everyone. Really…. there’s a lot of good that comes from baring your soul to others. Understanding oneself and how to love another is the HARDEST lesson on the planet and many never learn it. Jeremy and I were married as 21 year old babies and we have hacked out in 11 years what most people take 30 years to accomplish. It’s hard for everyone I don’t care how perfect any looks on the outside… it’s never that easy. I’m now thankful for our struggles, but making a relationship work…and surviving the pain that inevitably comes with loving another human…is that hardest work I’ve ever done in my life. My heart goes out to ya Stephanie!!

  • Read this yesterday. Prayed. Read again today.
    What a craptastic time. Like everyone else, I wish better for you. But it made me think about a conversation p-coat and I were having about our boys. We were debating whether, as parents, we would want/aim to keep our boys from harm and hurt or whether it’s better for them to take their knockings while they are safe, loved, and cared for in our home. We felt that while neither is ideal, the latter is better for them in the long run.
    As I re-read your brave words today, with the kind, sweet, understanding, loving, supporting, (etc) notes from your friends and loved ones, I felt that the latter applied to us as adults as well. You are safe. You are loved. You are cared for.
    There’s so much more to come and I believe that we are always being honed by the knowing and loving hands of our maker. Being on the potter’s wheel means trial and, most of the time, heartache, but it also means we are being formed into something new.
    As your story presses forward, be proud that only because you gave your whole heart could it be broken…and then, even when it was broken, you were courageous and honest.

    Much love to you!


  • Steph, you are strong. You are brave. You are courageous. You are beautiful. You are full of sunshine.

    I read your post on Saturday and I re-read it again today. I couldn’t say nothing in response to something so beautiful and heartbreaking and honest.

    Beautiful because you are still able to express so much love for someone who broke your heart and also express love for the support network getting you through this.

    Heartbreaking for obvious reasons.

    Honest is what you are. I’m not sure how long ago this happened, but your strength to be honest and open about Matt leaving, will see you soar in good time.

    I know I can’t offer any words to give you comfort or relief, but I do offer my love, goodwill and prayers. I wish you all the love and happiness you deserve darling girl.

    B xx

  • I had friends who brought me Ensure, because I wouldn’t eat… I bought a house and totally renovated it… that was good therapy. When I couldn’t sleep I would stay up all night and install a ceiling fan. Or tile something… I was glad that the house was well insulated, so people couldn’t hear me sobbing… And as it turns out, I am happier than I have ever been…I am loved more…I KNOW who my true friends are (like the girl that brought me the Ensure)… and I know what is really important… Turns out, I missed the dog more than I missed the man. I am glad you have Gus. Love all around you. NMB

    • Ha. Thanks so much, Natty. The way it happened is grotesque and I’m sure it’ll get easier with time; it’s just hard to imagine now, and it’s hard to imagine how long that will take. Love you 🙂

  • Your honest blog about your loss tugged at my heart. I waited even longer than you to marry, and also dealt with people who thought I was Lebanese as the reason for my singledom. It’s not that you saw warning signs and were blind to the flashing; I think we see them and chalk them up to not everyone’s perfect. I will love you past them, which becomes a part-time job instead of a healthy partnership. It’s exhausting and YOU end up last on the list (talking from experience here). Life and love are all about taking chances. You are beautiful. You are accomplished. You seem to surround yourself with many loving people. And your soul shines through, even on these pages. That light will pull the right person into your life and your heart when you need him most. Of this I am certain. Until then, pamper to the nines. Because it’s all about you. xo

    • JB from Jersey! You are so right about what we do… reasoning that not everyone’s perfect. We do. I did. He’s not, and no one ever will be, but I will NE-VER be sorry for how wholeheartedly I loved that kid, and how much I put into my relationship… even at my detriment. Just a good lesson learned. Started the pampering today with a massage, then a margarita and a nap at the pool. Good for the soul. And, you are a good soul – thank you for your VERY kind and heartfelt comments. Much love to you! xx, Steph

  • To clarify my earlier post: Yes, love is about putting the him first because love is selfless. It’s when that posturing leaves nothing for you that it becomes debilitating. Your stomach feels hollow from the loss. And, a dozen years from now, you will still feel a little pinch when you think of him. But please believe me when I tell you, and as trite as it sounds, one day you will feel whole again.

  • That boy must be outside his mind. Sadly by the time he wakes up, you will already be long gone. Thanks for sharing something so honest, Miss Steph… it helps a lot of folks. This was done so gracefully when I’m certain you were wronged far worse than you led on, but held back all the dirty laundry to spare his reputation. Further proof that you truly did love him and always put him first, even now. Class act. He was so lucky to have you for as long as he did!

  • I see this is a really old post, maybe you’re not even seeing these comments. I just went through something similar. For the second time. The second time was just as painful, but one thing helped that I didn’t have the first time: insight. Having just finished a grad degree in psychology, I know a lot now about attachment styles. If your guy had an avoidant attachment style, it would explain the unexplainable. I knew a girl in college who went through this and was so devastated and so unsure of her ability to understand the world that she never recovered, and thirty years later, is still in a facility. This lovely, smart, girl. The first time this happened to me, a man kept begging me to marry him. I kept saying no. Then I said yes, finally. He turned to ice. Announced THE NEXT WEEK that he was moving out of state. Yeah. Soooo confused. This time, a guy tells me he loves me body and soul, we are out house hunting together, and boom, after that he never calls again. I had to write him a long letter to get a short text – a text! – a month later that “he just didn’t want to continue.” Whatever reason he gives, it’s probably bogus. It’s not you, it’s him and his avoidant attachment style. It just activated later than some.

    • Hi Karen: Thank you so much for your kind comments and insight 🙂 Yes – this was almost 2 years ago, and it did shake me to my %$#&ing core, but it also molded my life in an enormously positive way: it prompted a move to California and a shift to the career I had always wanted but for whatever reason had been too hesitant to pursue until then.

      We did reconcile after that post was written for almost another year; only for the exact same thing to happen again – though this time he was far more cavalier and apathetic, which I didn’t know was possible… and in the wake of months of groveling. The flip is bizarre to witness, but the avoidance you’re describing is spot-on. And you’re right – like you, thankfully I had enough insight the 2nd time to see it for what it was and know that whatever was so troubling for him on the inside had nothing to do with me and was also nothing I could ever fix. I have no regrets about the second time around; I thought everyone deserved a second chance, and I never would’ve known for sure had I not given it to him. Ahem – now I know 🙂 I try to never think about it but when I do it still tugs at me for the reason you alluded to – because it’s almost impossible to understand how those (two people) can exist inside one person. And when someone has that kind of duality, it almost feels like a death when they make the switch, because you realize the person you loved and the good part of them never really existed to begin with.

      I’m so sorry for what happened to your friend. And to you. Keeping you both in my thoughts 🙂 Thanks again so much for your kind words and insight! And for reading our little stream-of-consciousness blog.

      Much love,

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