1. You made an ocean out of the things you kept from me, I was always fighting against waves from being pulled under, against drowning. I was always coming up for air and trying to make my way to shore. But there’s things I kept from you too. You think you read people so well. That was always your special skill you’d say, and you’d mold it into your favor. I admit, you read me well, you used those things against me and you exploited me, and you did a great fucking job at it. But I kept secrets too, and I’m not talking about the ones you think you know.
2. Not everything you kept from me was necessarily hidden. I made a raft out of the things you thought would always remain your little secrets.
3. About three years in, I started googling the words ‘sociopath’ and ‘psychopath.’ I started researching the difference between them. I read up on narcissists, even made up a chart of the things they all shared in common. I spent about half a day at the library once reading all up on antisocial and narcissistic personality disorders. I tried convincing myself maybe you were just an asshole. Then I (taking up after you) started convincing myself I was crazy.
4. I loved you then, even. Even when you made love to me with the same finesse people use when getting dressed and brushing their teeth. Even when I noticed your eyes were empty, I loved you with an absurd ferocity.
5. I never wanted you getting close to my family, and looking back I don’t think it was due to the strained relationship I have with them, but because in the back of my mind I probably always knew there was something unsafe about you, and that what we had was never going to make it to forever.
6. I thought it was one of the most fucked up of things that the first time you told me you loved came after three long years and only as cauterization to the wound of me finding out about the girl you were screwing while away at grad school. You knew it was all I ever wanted to hear. All it took was a few doses of saccharine on your part to get me to stay.
7. I knew you weren’t being genuine, but I let myself overdose on your words anyway.
8. I constantly compared myself to her.
9. You had made some comments about my weight gain, about my depression, about how both things had turned you off. I did what I swore I’d never do, I tried to change for you. I swallowed my depression for you, when you should have been my person, my support, I was killing myself trying to make it easier for you. I was alone.
10. I practically starved myself and ran myself to exhaustion trying to get the body you said I could have, the kind you were attracted to. Not only did I go on a detox, but I got diet pills, barely ate anything, and ran in the morning and before bed every evening. 38 pounds gone in two and a half months, my curves no longer visible, exhausted and hungry, because I didn’t want to turn you off. Because I didn’t want you to crawl into someone else’s bed again.
11. When I spoke to her, after finding out about you and her, I thought she was kind, I hated myself for hating her when I should have hated you. After all, you hadn’t lied to only me. There’s some words she said to me that up to this day I haven’t forgotten and that I wish I would have listened to, past behavior is indicative of future behavior.
12. Turns out she was right, because only a year later, you did it again. You left Texas to start training in Asia for your position as a consultant with a global markets company, when you started screwing a girl from the New York office.
All summer long.
I had written you nearly 40 “open when” letters for any kind of occasion I could have thought of, open when you feel alone, open when you miss home, open when you feel like a failure, open when you have insomnia, etc. All the while, you fucked her everywhere from Bangalore to Bangkok that summer, all the while checking in with me on the phone and telling me you loved me and couldn’t wait to come home.
I always thought I had a sixth sense about things. Being that, like many men like you, you didn’t have any type of social media, all it took was some looking through your Venmo history to see her name. It was a payment for some room in Goa you had gone away to for a weekend.
I point blank asked you if you were cheating on me. You called me crazy, a fucking psycho, you said. She was only your friend.
Here is something you don’t know: I didn’t find out after you had gotten back, after we had gone a whole month without speaking while you were away because you just couldn’t deal with my irrational behavior. No, I knew before then, before I ever humiliated myself in reaching out to her once you got back. I just wanted to be wrong. I wanted you to be right. I wanted to be crazy. That last day we spoke while you were still overseas, after not having heard from you for three days, I tried getting put through to the hotel room you were stationed in. After failing to get through to you there or on your cell, I called the front desk and asked to be transferred to hers. I heard you in the background when she picked up the phone. I hung up. I wanted to be crazy.
I remembered that sweet southern girl telling me past behavior is indicative of future behavior. I wish I would have listened.
13. Every night for that last month you were overseas and we didn’t speak, I laid in bed tossing and turning, physically in pain from missing you. I could barely eat. I became even thinner than I had the year before.
14. I said I forgave you. We stayed together. But I think I lied. I don’t think I ever did. I think I started to fall out of love with you then.
15. I constantly compared myself to her too.
16. I don’t know when it happened, but I also started to fall out of love with myself.
17. There came a point where I didn’t know who I was anymore. I had always been strong-willed, outspoken, fearless. But I swallowed my thoughts, my feelings and my words for you, I was afraid to make you angry, to cause a problem. You liked me better quiet, so I silenced myself. I used to believe I was beautiful, too, but you took that away from me too.
18. My anxiety and depression were not melodrama, you fucking asshole.
19. When your company sent you to Tennessee for a project, I was still, with zero reason, slowly dying inside trying to make what we had work. I remember visiting you and finding that packet of condoms in your truck’s center console. I wasn’t surprised. I wasn’t as hurt. I think I was slowly becoming numb. You called me crazy again, because only a crazy person would deduce that that open box of condoms was used for cheating when we didn’t use them and when I didn’t live there. You offered some bullshit explanation and said you could give me proof. In an almost robotic state, I told you I believed you.
20. I think it’s true what they say, that thing about accepting the love you think you deserve. I didn’t think much of myself or love myself enough back then.
21. I think part of why I stayed was because I felt less alone letting you do the things you did to me.
22. When we spent a weekend in that cabin in the Smoky Mountains, I was reminded of why I had fallen in love with you in the first place. I so badly wanted to believe you were that person. I didn’t want that weekend to end.
23. I panicked when you told me you were coming back home from your project. I think part of me didn’t want you to because I was slowly starting to face the truth.
24. For the last part of our relationship, I wrote more about him than I did about you.
25. For a long time, all I could think about when you touched me were his hands.
26. You were the only person I had never cheated on with him. I loved him for over a decade, but I still fell in love with you. I separated myself from him while with you, because I was always faithful to you. Until a few weeks before we broke up, that is. I lied about where I was that Christmas night.
27. If you hadn’t chosen my best friend to make a move on, if it had been someone else, I probably would still be with you. In a twisted way, I’m glad you did. It’s what I needed to leave.
28. I hate you for choosing her to do that to. She has always been my sister, my everything. I hate you for doing it when I was only ten feet away, asleep in the other room. How dare you?
29. All I have is what she told me after the fact. What you told me. What she told me a year later. What you said to someone else. No matter what, I would/will always believe her over you, but to this day, I’m not sure I’ll ever know every detail about it.
30. I sometimes feel so alone that I miss you.
31. I could never love you again. But on some days, when I don’t love myself enough, I think I could go back and it would hurt less this time.
32. I still don’t know who you were, who you are. I saw so many sides of you, it took everything in me not to become dizzy and throw up. Maybe throughout all those years I slept next to a stranger.
33. I so badly want to believe that the sweet guy I fell in love with is underneath the shark who bit chunks from my limbs. Because, what would it say about me if he wasn’t?
34. You broke me. You ruined the idea of love for me. And it’s not how you think. I’m not afraid of getting hurt again. I’m afraid of not hurting. I’m afraid you made me so numb that I won’t ever be able to feel something for another person, painful or otherwise.
35. This, in fact, is a short list of things I’ve never told you.