An Open Letter To The Man I Used To Love

woman staring out window in black and white
God & Man

I still think about you. At odd moments in my day, too. When I should be working. When I’m putting on my lipstick. When I’m pouring myself a cup of coffee. Always when I’m drinking coffee.

I still love you, I think. But that sharp, stabbing pain has faded into a dull ache. People told me it would, given time. But I don’t think it’s time that heals; healing has nothing to do with the amount of days that have passed and everything to do with cleaning out the wound itself. And I’m trying. I’m trying to face that wound.

I used to wake up crying in the middle of the night. I would be dreaming about you and even in my dreams, I would see you walking away and I thought it was so unfair that my subconscious never gave me the happy ending reality also denied me.

There are times when I still want to pick up my phone and send you a message. I want to tell you about the ridiculous thing my coworker said or talk to you about this new restaurant I tried. When I was accepted into my graduate program, I wanted to tell you. I wanted you to know. I wanted you to care.

I still miss you. There are a thousand little things that play in my mind when I think about you. Three years of little moments. The sound of your voice and your laughter.

And then there are the uninvited memories that appear anyway: When you told me about her. When you faded away. When you walked right past me as if I was no better than a stranger on the street.

The memories of you looking at the flawed parts of myself I had to offer and telling me how disdainful they were. And yet I loved you anyway.

One year later and I’m still lamenting over the fact that you’re gone. I suppose I should thank you for the poetry and prose you inspired but I cannot bring myself to do that: to be grateful for the way my heart shattered and the broken pieces that became ink on a page.

What’s made this so much worse is trying to explain my heartache to others, others who are quick to respond with “he was never really yours.” Even if they don’t say it, I can see it in their eyes. I can feel it in their lack of compassion. To them, and probably to you, too, I am the delusional girl who made us out to be more than we ever were.

Perhaps they’re right. Perhaps I have twisted those memories into more in some desperate attempt to hold on to whatever it was that we had.

But no amount of twisting or retelling changes the fact that I was in love with you. Wholly and completely in love with you.

You were my almost. I was your afterthought.

I suppose, if I had handled things differently, we could have remained friends. But that would have been like inviting poison into my body. I could not have lived with the constant reminder that you never chose me, that I was never the one you wanted.

I had to burn that bridge. I had to leave myself with no way to ever cross over into that territory again.

But our minds are powerful and mine still conjures your image, your voice, more often than it should. Although recently you’ve become blurry around the edges. The image of you is not as strong as it once was, the thoughts arriving less frequently.

Maybe one day you’ll disappear. Maybe one day I won’t think about you anymore.

But I will hold onto the lesson you taught me.

I fell apart when you didn’t choose me, and it was there, at the bottom of that pit, that I began to choose myself.

I took the parts of myself you looked down upon and deemed as unworthy, and I drew them out into the light and whispered thoughts of love to them. I gave them air. I let them breathe. I held them with reverence and grace.

I looked at myself as a whole being, and I wondered aloud at how beautiful, how loveable, how worthy I am. And now I tell myself each day, just in case I start to forget.

I choose myself each day.

I still love you. But I am learning to love myself more. TC mark

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