To The Girl I Left Because I Was Scared

 Anita Peeples
Anita Peeples

I sometimes get the urge to reach out to you, to tell you that I still think about you all the time.  I don’t though.  I’ve seen the smiling pictures of you and your new man, and I have no interest in complicating anybody else’s life.  The fact that he is even willing to pose for those kinds of pictures with you speaks volumes, I never liked doing that sort of thing.  I’m sure you’re happier now.

The night it all went wrong, you had been out with some friends.  You drank too much and needed a place to crash.  You wanted to stay with me, but I arranged for you to stay with a mutual friend instead. You were justifiably angry with me in the morning, because  you needed taking care of, and I should have been the one taking care of you.  I was ashamed of myself for the same reason.  The only explanation I can offer is that the stress I was under was making me a different person.  I was working full time hours in a restaurant while taking five University courses, a situation you, quite correctly, thought was insane.

When you called me that night, I hadn’t slept properly in days, and I had to be up for work in two hours.   All I could think about was how badly I needed to sleep.  I was overwhelmed with the desire to be rid of this problem so I could get what little sleep I could.  It sickens me now that I put your safety in somebody else’s hands rather than taking responsibility for it myself, but as I said, I wasn’t thinking clearly.

I made the decision to end our relationship in the morning.  Not just because I thought you deserved better the night before, but because I thought you deserved better across the board.  How many times did we make plans to spend time together only to have me fall asleep within minutes of arriving.  I know your libido must have suffered when mine all but disappeared, drowning in a sea of stress hormones.  I know you wanted me to dial back my commitments, and that you worried about the possible health effects of all the stress I was under.  I know you worried about me a great deal.  I didn’t change my schedule at all though.

I remember one night we were out walking alone and I began discussing some internships in different parts of the world that I found interesting and might look into in a year or two.  The more I talked, the more distant and quiet you got until finally you asked “do you factor me in at all when you make plans for the future?”  It was a fair question because no, I didn’t.  I think you deserved better than that.

The reason I’m writing this letter is because of two things you said that didn’t sit well with me.  The first, was one you liked to repeat, that being that you liked me more than I liked you.  That was never the case. I liked you a great deal, though maybe I never did the best job showing it.  I have never dated anyone quite like you, and I think my inexperience showed.  Most people I know are far too hip to ever talk about how they really feel, and most relationships I’m used to are pretty nebulous.

It took being with you for me to realize what a cowardly way that is to live your life.  Being honest about how you feel, and what your needs are, takes guts. 

You weren’t afraid to be vulnerable, you owned it, which meant  I always knew where I stood with you, that was a real gift.  I even loved it when you were critical of me, telling me things like “You need to start spending more time with me.”  You were never too cool to care, and you didn’t give a fuck about whether you came off as needy.  If it seemed like you liked me more than I liked you it was only because you were, and are, more emotionally mature than I am.  I am afraid to be vulnerable.

I did write you that song though.  I’ve been playing guitar  my entire life, and I’ve written hundreds of songs, but I’ve never written a song for a girl before.  It always struck me as about the lamest most cliched thing a person could do.  I did it anyway though, because I thought it might make you happy.  It occurs to me now that the entire point of making music in the first place is to make people happy.  I don’t know how the fuck I missed that.

The second thing you said, was that I only told you I loved you because you said it first.  I’ve already touched on how straightforward you were when you discussed your feelings with me and what your needs were in our relationship.  You seemed to have no fear when it came to telling me what I meant to you, or telling me how I needed to work harder to meet your needs.  I can distinctly remember, though, one time when you were afraid.  You were hiding your face under a pillow in fact, as I attempted to poke, prod, and tickle you into telling me your secret.

I can still remember your giggles, and squeals, and cries of protest. I didn’t let up because I knew what you were too afraid to say, and I wanted you to say it, because I loved you too.  Still do in fact, though that is a subject for a different letter.  One that probably doesn’t ever need to be written.

When I made the unilateral decision to end our relationship it hurt, but it felt like I was doing the right thing.  I thought I’d only end up hurting you worse in the long-run.  I was picturing myself as fucking Humphrey Bogart after he put Ingrid Bergman on the plane at the end of Casablanca.  Heartbroken, but secure in the knowledge that I’d done the right thing.  I was acting like a fucking idiot.  So was Humphrey, come to think of it. Ingrid knew the risks and she wanted to stay anyway, was it really so noble to overrule her and send her away?

You wouldn’t treat someone like that, you wouldn’t make that kind of decision for someone else even if you did think it was the right one.  You’d hash it out, put the work in, make sure the other person had the chance to respond to all the reasons you thought the relationship couldn’t work.  You would’ve handled the entire affair much better than I did, but maybe next time, because of what I learned in the short time I knew you, I’ll do better.  TC mark

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