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Nearly two years have passed since I sat down to write you a letter.
To be quite frank, I’m surprised to find myself scrawling words on my favorite Crane stationary to you for a second time.
In fact, I told myself that if I never laid eyes on you again, it wouldn’t be long enough. And then one afternoon, a very profound realization hit me out of nowhere: you, sadly, are a shining example of yet another significant man in my life who has taken away not only my right to speak but more importantly, my chance to be heard. And because I am a woman of great integrity and strong character, and never one to take the coward’s way out, you deserve to hear this directly from me: I am no longer willing to remain silent, nor am I willing to defend you or protect you at such a great and personal cost. The time came for me to love myself more than I ever loved you; and as you can imagine, I’ve had to dig really deep for that. You already know that I tiptoe through everything: every step is counted, cautious, methodical. It is rare for me to make a snap decision about anything, most often to my own detriment. But whether I want to or not, I have to start crawling through every down-dirty, underhanded thing you’ve ever done to me so that I can heal from the wounds that have been so carelessly inflicted by you, intentionally and unintentionally.
When I think back to the day that I discovered the many things you were dishonest about, all I can remember is how broken you were.
When I close my eyes and get very quiet, I can still see it: you, a distraught man, sitting in my dining room and crying like a baby, after having begged your way back in from the day before. I had every intention of telling you goodbye that afternoon, but when you asked me to go to counseling with you to repair our relationship, I lost every word I had rehearsed on that long drive home from school to see you. I took a leap of faith with you that day and never once have I regretted it. It was hard for me to let my guard down with you but I did it because I knew if I didn’t, we would never grow beyond where we were; and you meant so much to me that I was willing to trudge through whatever I had to in order to fix things between us once and for all.
In the day-in-day-out struggles of this thing called life, we always think we know exactly how our story is going to end.
We work tirelessly at writing every chapter of our lives to our liking. Whether it includes the one where we document the ways in which we’ve gotten our lives together or maybe perhaps the one about moving on from those who aren’t healthy for us. And we are always fairly certain that in the end, the words we have penned to paper won’t ever let us down, even though we know that the best-laid plans always have the potential to collapse in mid-flight.
I honestly believed that I would be writing a very different chapter than I am writing right now.
Simply because I trusted you when you sat with me during our last therapy appointment, holding my hand, telling me that you would never abandon me again. And in case you don’t remember, the exact words you said were “it’s not gonna happen”. For the first time in the 15 months that we had been back in each other’s lives, never from that moment did I imagine that you would gut me and abandon me again less than a week later.
If I had done even half the things to you that you’ve done to me over the years, I don’t think I would be able to live with myself, so how you manage to sleep at night is beyond my level of comprehension. And if you knew the depth of the pain that you have caused me and the mass destruction that you have left upon my heart over time, you would never, ever be able to look me in the face again without aching in shame.
You yourself know how valuable my friendship is and you also know how I respond when someone betrays me.
I’m remembering the day you sat at my table during one of our many lunches saying that you felt bad for not having done enough for me; and at a later time, you also made accusations against my friends whom you were unable to name. I want you to know that I am 1000% confident of the friendships I have and I will defend them to no end. I’m very selective about the people I allow to get close to me and I don’t have people in my life who aren’t trustworthy—you were always the only exception. When push came to shove, you slit my throat to save your own when what you should have done is protected me at all costs because the only person who was guilty of misbehaving in our relationship was you.
Were you betrayed? Unequivocally…but never, ever by me.
You know me well, and if I was ever going to betray you, I would have done it long before March, and on a much grander scale. Deep down, I know you know that; but the fact that you believed that I would dare hurt you so maliciously is devastating to me. You are the last person I would ever want to sting with betrayal and even if I had betrayed you, you know that I would’ve been on my knees in a second begging your forgiveness. Historically, women have always hurt you and taken advantage of you, so it’s second nature for you to think I would be capable of that. I’m not perfect, not by any means—but I do know that the only thing I was ever guilty of was giving you more chances than you earned. You may not agree, but I worked diligently to ensure that you always felt loved and cared for by me, even when you didn’t do the same.
I’ve failed at many things when it comes to you and the relationship we’ve shared.
But I know that I never failed at that. It was never my desire to take care of a man til there was you and it was always my pleasure caring for you in the ways you allowed me to: I relished making lunches for you, listening to you when you needed to vent, and commiserating with you when you were overwhelmed. And in the last letter I wrote you, I told you I would never step away from you again and I didn’t, even though I wanted to many, many times. I meant those words I said to you and happily held up my end of the bargain until you abruptly ended our story based on the hint of an untruth.
Everyone, at one time or another, has betrayed a person they care about in a moment of weakness.
We’ve all made decisions that we later regret and wish that we could take back. Thankfully, that’s where forgiveness and grace come into play because when you love someone so deeply, you take the good as well as the bad; all the while knowing that in every relationship, people hurt each other. Am I pleased that you’ve treated me like something you stepped in? I am not. In fact, you’ve cut me to the bone so many times that I’ve nearly bled to death and only now have I staunched the bleeding. But if I could convey anything to you, it would be this: I miss you every single day. Not a moment passes when I don’t wish things were different between us and that I had fought harder for you even when, under the duress of an ultimatum, you didn’t have the strength within yourself to fight for me. And despite every bit of mean and misery that has passed between us over time, I would still choose you—not because you’ve earned it and certainly not because you deserve it; but because at the end of the day, the love that I have for you is not only vast but genuine and far exceeds any of the hurt, bitterness, and resentment that I feel on the inside.
Being empty of you is one of the hardest things I have ever had to do.
And even though your actions have hurt me deeply, you really are the best surprise I’ve ever gotten. You’ve made me a better woman and you’ve taught more about myself than anyone else ever has. You’ve shown up for me in ways I could have never imagined, the most important being the last time we saw one another. I want you to know that I could’ve never gotten through that day without you. While I am a woman of great strength, I felt mighty small inside on that particular afternoon. When I became overwhelmed, you took my hand and helped me to be brave; when I lost my words, you pointed to them so I could finish my sentence.
You really brought it that day by showing up for me.
And I will be forever grateful to you for that. I was so proud of you. I’m still proud of you, even now. And if there were ever two people on the face of this earth who had what it takes to make it, it was us. We’ve weathered many storms together and yet somehow, always managed to come out on the other side of difficult times with our relationship still intact—tattered, but intact nonetheless. We may not physically be in each other’s lives at the moment, but the invisible knot that still ties us to one another is ever-present and because of that, we will always be unfinished business.
I know we made an agreement long ago that we would never text or write things that were heartfelt.
You set that ground rule because those words are only meant to be spoken aloud to one other and because the written word is so easily and often misinterpreted, I pray every day that the stars will flawlessly line up so that we can sit down and talk face to face. I really did want to say these things to you in person, but I didn’t have the wherewithal to ask you for that so I wrote this letter instead. Until that day comes, just know that I carry you with me everywhere I go and I whisper the word ‘happiness’ every time I think of you. I do, and have, always wanted nothing less than the very best that this mundane world has to offer you. I only hope that while you were adding to my life, I never surreptitiously interrupted anything within yours.