I must be crazy writing this letter to you now after all of these years. It would have made more sense to have written it sooner, but you see, that wasn’t possible then. Because when you left, it was like my voice left with you. The quiet was deafening and the longing for you was too great to withstand, and even mentioning you in a letter would have broken me into a million pieces all over again.
The truth is, I was so ashamed. I allowed the fall of us to symbolize everything that was wrong with me and to validate all the voices that told me I wasn’t good enough. And when you moved on, I second guessed everything I thought we once had. I replayed our first date over and over again, from the way you brushed against my arm and smiled to the way you playfully ate the sushi off of my plate and the way we walked back to your car together, holding hands like we’d been doing it forever. I felt with certainty that this was different.
But then we broke up, I thought, Was it just me falling in love? Was that even possible? And you said you’d always remember that you loved me and you would never say it wasn’t so. I held on to that like it was some sort of consolation prize to have been loved by you; I carried the shame of having been hurt by you like a symbol of brokenness.
Cause you see, it wasn’t all that simple. You said things during that time when we weren’t together but weren’t yet fully apart—that limbo stage in many break ups, that gray space, the uncertainty, the hoping it could work but knowing with absolute certainty that it won’t but trying anyway space. You said things that hurt that took me this long to begin to shed and remove from my being.
It’s like all along you knew it wasn’t me, yet somehow, even though I felt an underlying current with an enormity too great to face, I just kept going with the idea of us, denying my way through it until I fell on my face, with tears the only thing to break my fall.
I cried a lot those days and that’s not saying much. I grieved with the pain reserved for the dead because when I lost you, I died inside too. I looked for answers where there were none, and I scraped the inside of my mind for clues until every memory was extracted and laid before me like the evidence of a crime scene. But the case was never solved because I thought the only way to solve it was for you to love me.
It took me 10 years, but at least I got here. You see, I reopened the case when I realized it was never gonna go away. I looked really hard again and I realized something.
You can’t hurt someone who isn’t already hurting.
Your words pierced my heart because you said out loud the things I said to myself when nobody was around. You nailed every belief, doubt, and fear I held as true about myself, and when you fed it to me, I devoured it, then mistakenly thought it was your job to heal me. You weren’t the villain or the prick, like my friends tried to say then. They didn’t realize it then and neither did I. It wasn’t because I still loved you but because of what I came later to understand.
You were my mirror, my best emotional reflection into all the areas that needed tenderness and love. I didn’t nurture me after us; I beat myself up until I walked into this new world, a hidden version of myself. And now here I am and it’s been a while and I wonder…
You see, I’m better now. I once gave you all my power and now I’ve taken it back. I’m investing it in ways that uplift me and remind me of my greatness. And when I do think of you, it still hurts a little because I’m reminded of a time where I felt ashamed of feeling pain.
Today I am so grateful for the lessons you have brought into my life unknowingly. I am grateful for the opportunity to love myself unconditionally, regardless of who loves me. And I am so grateful for my tears—they remind me that I am human and capable of the greatest feelings and aspirations out there. And so I wonder, How are you?