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'I'm not sure I’m in love with you anymore'

'I'm not sure I’m in love with you anymore'
He taught me how to love. I taught him how to fight. Now, after cancer, we're trying to make up for lost time. (Susan Tibbles / For The Times)

"I'm not sure I'm in love with you anymore."

That text came at 3:45 a.m. Instantly, I called him. When he answered, I said: "I did it, didn't I? I ruined our relationship. It's all my fault."

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***

I come from a family that never showed me how to love. Our communication was to verbally harass and brutalize and abuse one another by constant fighting and bickering. I finally moved away from all of them, to Los Angeles. It was on a Cinco de Mayo, at the Circle Bar in Santa Monica, when I happened to meet the love of my life. We got to talking and he asked, "What do you want to do with your life?" I said, "All I want to do is be happy." He said he was a screenwriter and had just sold a couple of projects. I told him I didn't believe him and, until he showed me the contracts, I'd considered him just another "writer" in Los Angeles.

He invited me over for dinner a couple days later and showed me the signed contracts. I moved in a week later.

My writer boy, as I like to call him, turned out to be the kindest, most nurturing man in the world. He tolerated my mood swings, my inabilities to communicate, my pouting, flipping out, silent treatments and general insecurities. He rarely fought with me despite my goading him. I downloaded on him constantly. I can't tell you how many times, in the middle of the night, I'd go to bed mad, and then, at 3 a.m., tell him how deeply sorry I was.

But back to that text. He had been out of town when he sent it, but when he returned to Los Angeles and we met face-to-face he told me flat out: "I taught you to love, and you taught me to fight." That hit me at my core and made me feel so ashamed.

I moved to a friend's guest house a few weeks later, started therapy and meds that leveled out my mood swings. My therapist told me that, basically, I suffered from PTSD from my childhood and that I would have to work very hard to overcome this.

During the three years after our breakup, we kept in touch by text, occasional phone calls, and I always told him how sorry I was that I mistreated him. Of course, he had some hand in the failure of our relationship. But, if I had to break it down, I'd say it was 70% my fault, by picking and finding fault in everything he did. His 30% was his stuffing down his emotions and not communicating with me.

Then, I received a text saying he had the C-word, a Stage 2 melanoma that would require some skin grafting and 10 days of walking on eggshells until test results showed us his lymph nodes were clear. Someone else in his life had bailed, unable to handle the situation, which involved regularly treating his wound, as needed, following surgery. I worked a mile away from his place in Santa Monica, so I went to my previous home, every day at lunch, to help change his bandages.

For the last year and a half, we've hung out at each other's places and become BFFs. We're reinventing modern love and trying to figure out where to go next.

I'm happy to report that we're going to therapy, together and separately. I moved back in last weekend, and he's giving me free rein to redecorate his man cave by the beach.

I couldn't love him more deeply.

I took a clapboard, a leftover from the set of one of his movies, and wrote "Take Two" on it. It's the accent piece at the entrance to our home.

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The author is an administrative assistant at a nonprofit organization in Santa Monica. You can find her on Instagram @almaverde22

L.A. Affairs chronicles the current dating scene in and around Los Angeles. If you have comments or a true story to tell, email us at LAAffairs@latimes.com.

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