I did love you. I want you to know that. You were the first person I loved after I got sober, and it felt like fate. I knew you weren’t a panther, but you were a dragon, a wolf, something strange and dark that I wanted to know better. I always did like those kinds of things, and the stranger and darker, the better. Give me Halloween—tricks not treats, stories that drip blood, monsters under the bed that howl and bite at my toes, original fairy tales with sinister endings. I guess I was drawn to that. Or I thought I was. I thought you were some shadowed place I could make my home in.
You were the right person for me at that time in my life. And I guess it went further than it should have. I needed your steadiness, your grounded feet, your thick oak limbs pulling me to earth when all I wanted to do was fly away. I needed you.
And then I changed. Or maybe we both changed. That love that once grounded me now kept me chained. Those limbs that pulled me back to earth made me shatter my wings from trying to pull away, the bits of gossamer and butterfly-like material shredding into bits as I tried and tried and tried to fly. I felt like a faerie princess held captive in the dragon’s lair, unable to open my mouth and sing myself free. I always told you I couldn’t be caged, not for long.
There were nights in the bed where I’d stare at the wall and try not to cry. Sometimes the tears came anyway. This was not the life I was meant to be living, a housewife with prim skirts and red lips. I should have said goodbye, but I was terribly afraid, and I guess I was comfortable in the routine we’d built. I thought I had to change. You should never have to change.
We fell out of love. I know it happens, but no one says how much it hurts. It’s not the visceral pain of a gaping wound, a knife in the dark. It’s more a dull throbbing that never seems to fade and makes everything gray. I don’t even know you now. I used to know the exact way you breathed in your sleep, the way you rolled up the toothpaste (and got irritated when I didn’t), the face you made when you were playing video games and couldn’t be distracted, the way you cooked ramen (with vegetables and cheese). I knew everything about you, and now I know nothing.
I hope you are happy. I hope you meet someone that brings you joy. I hope that you bought a new bed to go with your new house, that you’ve exorcised all the ghosts of us and of me. I don’t want you to remember me and to sit in bitterness and stew. But that’s not you, anyway. It never was. I was always the one that held on to the fraying cords of something broken, not you.
I forgive you, and I hope you forgive me. I loved you, and I won’t apologize for that. I fell out of love with you, and I’m sorry I did, but I’m not sorry I walked away instead of continuing to be in a relationship that didn’t bring either of us joy anymore.
I hope you fall in love again, the way I have. And maybe this time, neither of us will fall out of it.