An Open Letter To My Fiancé’s Ex — ‘The One That Got Away’

Flickr / Richard P J Lambert
Flickr / Richard P J Lambert

Dear S,

Even though we’ve never met, I feel like I know you. Despite living at opposite ends of the country, we’re kind of like neighbors. Except, the space we share is in his heart. And here I am, finally doing what you weren’t able to finish. I’m sorry. But I won’t feel right proceeding without letting you know a few things.

I want you to know that I saw it. I saw the way he loved you. The way, because of you, for the first time in his life, he was happy. The way he wouldn’t even look at another girl because he was so captivated by you. I saw the way that even though he was here, back home physically, his mind and heart were back in California with you. I saw the way nothing else mattered to him. I saw that he was living a fairytale with you. I saw the way that although I was his friend, I was a mere part of the scenery. Until you started acting funny.

“She hasn’t talked to me in days,” he told me once. I sensed the anxiety in his voice even though he was trying to hide it. I noted the panic in his eyes that his fairytale might dissipate and he’d be forced to face reality. I was aware of the state of vulnerability you put him in. The power he blindly handed to you. “I’m sure it’s nothing big” I would reassure him. And that’s when he told me.

He told me about your state of rebellion and desperation when you met. The way you were looking for a good guy that you could settle down with, after exhausting yourself with those immensely passionate, turbulent relationships. He told me how every guy thought you were pretty and one even warned him that you’re dangerous. He told me that after feeling empty and worthless, meeting you brought meaning into his life. And that you leaving would ruin him. He told me of your magical nights that made him believe in love. Of your heart to hearts that would immerse him deeper and deeper into your charm. The mountains, the sunrises, the San Francisco view, the CDs you made each other. The way you were just the right amount of broken and needy, and required him to put your life together after the messiest years of your life. “I’m really glad she found you,” the most honest thing I had ever told anyone, “you’re a great guy.” That night I prayed that you would never leave him and that you would always keep him happy.

But what did you do? You left. Why? “I don’t want to hold you down and I don’t want to be held down by you. I think this is best for both of us.” What you really meant is:

I’m not satisfied by you. I don’t want someone who treats me as well as you do. I miss the adrenaline that comes with chaotic relationships. I told you I wanted to marry you, but I want to live a little first. I want to be free and careless without a good guy looking out for me. I always push people away, and even though you promised me that you wouldn’t let me push you away, LOL. I don’t care that I’m your first serious relationship and you’d do literally anything to make me happy. I don’t care that I’m ruining you. I want to Be. So let me.

And so you left me with a very very broken friend. Watching him go through that was the hardest thing I’ve experienced. You were the only person he let in, and now he had no reason to trust anyone. I would try to make him feel better, with ice cream and jokes and running errands for him. I’d find him distractions and tell him about my failed love life. When he threw away your letters I would secretly take them out of the garbage because I knew soon enough he’d want to reread them. Here’s what you don’t know, S. You didn’t just hurt him, you hurt me. And so again I prayed. This time with gasping tears. I prayed you would change your mind. That you would make him happy again.

The next few months weren’t fun. But there was this blossoming beauty. I would get a genuine smile out of him once in a while, and a laugh when I was lucky. We had fun. For the first time, he actually started paying attention to the world outside of you. To our friends. To me.

The rest of that year was filled with him convincing himself that he’s over you. Until one day I really believed he was. He was ready to take on the world. But one part of him was shut off. You had sealed the part of him that knew how to love. But for the time being it didn’t matter. He seemed happy.

Hey S, wanna know a secret? I had a crush on him since before he met you. It was just my luck that when our paths crossed and we became friends, you had him taken. But I was falling deeper and deeper in love with him through it all. And I don’t know if it’s just because he began spending most of his time with me, but he started seeing me differently too. And to my relief, you were apparently out of the picture. And we would flirt and drop hints and play games, but stay best friends through it all. I guess without realizing it, I was tearing away at the seal you so intricately coated onto his heart. And one day it had completely come undone. That was the scariest day of my life.

We had just established our feelings when he started avoiding me. Confused, I chased after him (something you wouldn’t do, not that he’d put you in the position to anyway) demanding answers. “I can’t care about you,” he told me, “I can’t get too attached. You’re going to leave. I’m going to lose you. And I won’t be able to take it.” At that moment I realized just how powerful you are. I realized the consequences of what you had done. And I felt weaker than I had ever felt before. I ensured him he would never lose me; I wouldn’t let him. And here we are years later, and I upheld my promise.

But here’s what you should know S. I think about you more than he does. I know I’m never going to be as pretty or artistic or captivating or complex or deep. I know and it has haunted me through the years. There were so many times I wanted him to be with someone more like you so he could be the kind of happy you made him. There was a period of time when he was trying to recreate in us what he had with you, but it failed because I’m not as articulate or romantic as you. I began to torture myself by reading your blog. Pointing out reasons why you’re so perfect and pleading that you had just stayed with him. But the more I read, the more I understood. You have this fascination with love, not people. You never loved him. You just had this perfect soul mate in your mind, and a void to fill. So you took my friend and sculpted him to fit the form. With your letters of enchantment and flowery words and the way you made him feel like the most important person in the world. The way you made him feel that what you shared with him was the most mystical and exclusive sensation of all. When in reality you do this to all your victims. And you get bored. So you move on to another one hoping they’ll satisfy your fiery desire for passion. And sometimes you get hurt by them because they’re not as naïve as my friend was. I read the poems you wrote about him, too.

I read the first one about how he was foolish to love you so much and your pathetic apology that you’ve forgotten him already. I had always envied you but it wasn’t until that line that I hated you. I read your next poem about your love story with him, how now after being hurt you’re desperate and when you go to him he laughs in your face and declines. About how you turned him cold and incapable of love. And now he’s blinded by reality unaware of your pain and growth, unaware that the girl he knew was an anomaly. And now you’re begging for forgiveness but he’ll never know. And so I showed him your poems. I explained to him the way you feel and this scenario you created in your mind, and he turned his hatred towards you into pity. And I noticed for a second, he was gone…the glaze of his eyes told me everything: he was momentarily back with you. “…should I text her?” he asked me. I had just shrugged. I told him to do whatever felt right.

Overjoyed by his “how are things,” you wrote another poem about him. About you two being foolish in your youth and how he gave you space and let you grow while he did the same. About how you now realize the value of a pure heart like his. About how he was persistent and proved to you the power of love.

Here’s why I’m writing this letter, S. You’re wrong. You’re not half as powerful as you think you are. You did leave him cold and bitter and unloving but only for someone who genuinely cares about him to thaw. He’s not miserable like you expected. He’s not out to hurt other people because of the way you hurt him. He’s in love. He’s getting married. Something he had originally planned on doing with you. He didn’t let you leave so that you both could grow until you’re ready. He let you leave because you he clearly wasn’t enough for you at the time. I told him I hope everything works out wonderfully for you and you become happily married. But he told me he doesn’t think you’re capable of it. He told me you’re obsessed with surface-level love and the intense emotions it entails, but that you wouldn’t be able to understand real love. The kind he shares with me. I want you to know, S, that your actions have consequences. These are lives you’re messing with. And I want you to find love, S. I want you to look at someone like a best friend rather than a fairytale character whose story ends when you close the book. And I want to thank you S. Because without you I don’t know if I would’ve married him.

Love,

Sana. TC mark

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