I first met Erin about fifteen years ago through mutual friends. We’d always had a great platonic relationship, but then a few years ago an evening of beers and karaoke ended with our first kiss, and began our tumultuous romance.

We began our romantic relationship very intensely, moving in together within just a couple of months. Thanksgiving of that year, I asked Erin to marry me, and she joyfully agreed. We lived together in relative bliss for a while, planning our wedding and enjoying domesticity.

Unfortunately, after several months of this, things began to change. My mother became very ill, and I began to withdraw from Erin. Perhaps because of this, she fell back in to bad habits of drinking too much, which led to depression and increased frustration on my part. We tried going to couples’ counseling, but even with that we were becoming progressively more miserable. Basically we kept fighting and getting back together, back and forth.

In retrospect, what I did next was unthinkable. One night in July, Erin made dinner as usual and we watched some television. Before we retired, I asked her if she wanted to go see a movie the next day. She replied that she would love to, looking happy and hopeful. We set off the next afternoon, and I informed her I had to stop at her mother’s house to pick something up. This wasn’t unusual — we went over there all the time. When we arrived at her mother’s house, we both went inside, and Erin went to use the bathroom while I ostensibly looked something up in the phone book.

When she came out, I told her it was over, that she couldn’t come back to the house, and I didn’t want to talk about it. I drove away as she stood in the doorway, stunned and frozen. Looking back at that now I can only imagine how heartbroken she was… At the time though I was totally numb to it.

After that day, the only times I saw or spoke to Erin were when she called about her things and came to pick them up. I refused to talk to her otherwise; refused to ever discuss what had happened between us.

Once the dust settled I realized what I had done. It took me a long time to move on and get over her after that, and really I don’t know why I committed such a cowardly act. I regret it to this day. For the longest time I blamed my actions on the effects of my mother’s failing health or Erin’s drinking and depression, but truthfully, I think was just scared and I chose to take it out on her by breaking up. I hope someday she’ll find a way to forgive me.

Mark R. – 34, graphic designer