Technically you never asked. But I knew you would. I knew that a ring — maybe stupidly big or maybe modest and subtle — was constantly in the back of your mind. I heard you talking to friends, professors, and your parents about it. About me. So even though the words never actually came out of your mouth I know that they lingered in the back of your throat, waiting for a time, for what you would deem the right moment.
Leaving you behind was one of the hardest decisions I have ever made. I feel like a walking cliché every time I say that when your name comes up. I feel like a fraud, like a fabrication of the person you used to kiss on the forehead and say “I love you” to when you thought I was sleeping. But even though I hate myself a little every time I lament how difficult it was, I’m telling the truth.
A life with you was the smart choice. Staying with you and your level-headedness and your ability to always be reasonable would have been a responsible choice for a flighty, impulsive person like me. You gave my existence balance. You gave me balance. I miss that sometimes.
I could see our future, with the lack of dogs because of your allergies, and the stretch marks on my stomach from giving you the kids you were so certain you needed, and I wasn’t sure I wanted it. I could see ourselves in five years so vividly that it was almost like those versions of us already existed and were right there with you, trying to convince me that this was the right choice. And I wanted to want it, I really did. I wanted to like talking about baby names and who would be in our wedding party and where we would move.
But I didn’t.
At 21, I wasn’t built for the relationship that you were trying to claw out of me. I had mistakes to make and experiences to have that didn’t involve a serious relationship. I needed to be selfish. And, obviously, I couldn’t do that with you there trying to hold my hand. I just wanted to be by myself.
You said you would miss me when you left me there on the couch, crying because I knew I was setting myself free at your expense. I think about you and wonder if you do. I know you’re in love again and that makes me happy. Slightly jealous, if we’re being totally transparent, but happy. I want you to have everything you’ve always wanted. But I’d be lying if I said I didn’t even minimally hope you think of me for even a split-second from time to time.
I’m sorry. I’m so, so sorry I couldn’t be the person you needed me to be when we were still a we. I’m sorry that the thought of you wanting to get down on one knee didn’t make me want to stay. I’m sorry I didn’t want my dad to walk me down some proverbial aisle to you while a string quartet played in the background.
I’m sorry I broke your heart.
I see pictures of you smiling with someone else and there’s no longing to touch the dimples I used to know so well, there’s only a residual ache. It’s more of a twinge from not knowing where you’re at and not hearing your voice in almost four years. Shit…has it really been four years? For over 1400 days, all I’ve known of you has come from behind a computer screen. But I hope you’re happy, I hope you know I’m sorry, and I hope you’re well.
I hope that you’re at peace.
Most of all, I hope you’re loved to the capacity that you deserve.
I’m sorry I couldn’t marry you, but by choosing not to I’m very much certain we’re both in better places.
At least I hope so.