I still don’t get it.
I’ve tried to remove myself from everything that happened between us. I’ve tried to force my brain and my heart to believe that this was the right thing to happen – because that’s supposed to make it simpler, or easier, or something, or so I’m being told.
But the thoughts keep swirling, swirling, swirling in my head.
What did I do that stopped being good enough for you?
Why don’t you miss me?
Why did you call me on Valentine’s Day to tell me how proud you were of me, how amazed you were of how well I’m doing and how much I’ve done on my own, only to tell me the next day that my life would be crumbling apart if it weren’t for you being in it?
Why did you call yourself my best friend, family, say that you’d always be there for me no matter what happened…that I could always look to you for help when I had nowhere else to go, that it would always end up okay…
That I could trust you.
…Only to toss me aside, and forget all over again?
You were my best friend. I would’ve traveled to hell and back just to make you smile over the phone or with a puppy picture after a bad day at work. I actually let go for once, and believed I’d always matter to you, and because of that, never in a million years saw this coming.
I hope you know and never forget how completely I loved you. I appreciated your every quality and flaw. I hope you actually read this letter, and I still hope, if days or months or years from now, it’s 3am and you can’t sleep because life is too dark, I hope you call me.
I hate that you were able to do this to me, but I don’t regret a single second that our lives were intertwined. You taught me how to be extroverted and how to see that every person has a story worth listening to, and that other people actually want to know my story too. Thank you for that.
I know you want to explore the world and find your happiness. But I wish you’d wanted me in the passenger seat beside you, like always, instead of feeling you needed to leave me behind as a fixed object in a past life.
In friendship or love, I’ve never had chemistry as instant, amazing, and long-lasting as I had with you. You made me believe that I was worth being loved. I know how scared of your own future you are right now, and I know how desperately driven you are to accomplish something big in your lifetime. I had tried to help you accomplish all you’d wanted, and maybe out of naïve trust thought that my friendship and love could help you find your happiness, no matter where it would be. But I realize your heart craves something bigger.
I know that in some way, you’re going to be a man among the stars, even if you have to charm a million people to get there.
I would’ve supported you through anything. Hell, after the worst of the storm passed, I even supported you through breaking up with me; I know and saw how difficult it was for you. In a perverse way, I’m almost proud of you for leaving me when and in the way that you did the first time. (Almost.) You’d witnessed me nearly dying, stood by me through nervous breakdowns through storms that would have completely broken almost anyone. I know how painful that was for you to watch, and how helpless you must of felt, like watching a car crash in slow motion. You had the courage to jump ship to save yourself and pursue your own happiness – and that somehow saved my life as well.
My 23 years before you, growing up, and after you – after the first time, after nearly dying and having my life completely upended – I’d never been remotely hopeless. My entire life, I’ve been strong, resilient, optimistic. I’d always believed I’d be the one to run back into the burning building to get everyone out safely, if I had to.
Suddenly, I am none of those things and I want none of those things.
I guess this is what they call situational depression. I truly had no idea it was possible for “sad” to hurt so physically, so completely, and so overwhelmingly to the point where it’s difficult to breathe right. It’s not like negativity, its more a detached, meaningless fog, which makes it hard to feel anything about anything. It’s a self-motivational struggle to follow through with my own life-sustaining functions every day like eating and sleeping. I don’t know who I am anymore. But I keep going. Not knowing how long this fog will last or if it might stretch all the way into forever feels strangely hope-like, and that’s something to keep going on. But please don’t worry too much about me, darlin’, I got my Xanax.
None of my other relationships affected me like this. Breaking up with the man I spent four years with in college, by literally walking in on him in bed with his ex, didn’t have nearly as much of an effect on me as realizing that you’re no longer interested in talking to me. You showed me the beauty and fun in the smallest things of life (driving around town grazing for food, checking out a new building or store without any intention of buying anything – just cause), and also spurred on a full-fledged identity and existential crisis that made me the person I became (who is so very different from the girl you met 9 years ago, as much as you still won’t believe).
I can survive not being in a relationship with you, and without your friendship, maybe, but I don’t know how to survive you no longer caring about me a damn or even wanting to talk to me. Conceptually, I’m trying to understand your reasoning, but that’s no help to me when I see anything that reminds me of you, which cues me to once again stare off into space wondering when you stopped loving me, and why I no longer matter to you…why I’m not worth being loved anymore. Wondering at what point I suddenly was no longer of any importance in your life, to the point that practicalities took precedence over me. I don’t want you back, I don’t want to tie you down, but damn, when it hurts like this so bad in the middle of the night, I wish so badly that you’d call me. That you’d check on me and ask how I’m doing. I’m giving you the space you wanted, but every passing day without a text makes me feel more disposable. Which is a shame, since I’m a goddamn catch for a friend or a girlfriend. Please, miss me sometimes. Remember the 99% of the time we spent in each other’s lives that was so good, and not just the 1% that led us here.
Please keep the box and the elephants I made you for your birthday, even though I wrote “Love always, Natty” in the card. I worked on it for a month, and didn’t see this coming. It doesn’t deserve to be tossed in a box under your bed or in your trunk and forgotten just because it reminds you of me, or because you believed (hurtfully, wrongly so) that I made it for the purpose of luring you in to take me back. I wear the necklace you got me in France every day. Maybe one day I’ll move on to new friendships and relationships and put it in a drawer to be lost or forgotten about, because I want to believe some teeny tiny spark in me isn’t ready to give up on life yet. But for right now I can’t even fathom trusting somebody else with whatever is left of my heart, so at least for now, the necklace is comforting.
I hope you find what you’re looking for in life, even if it isn’t with me in it. I’m happy that you don’t know I cry 10x a day now, because it would hurt you and make you so angry and frustrated to know how much I’m hurting, and I don’t want you to hurt. I hope you think I’m happy, because that will make your life so much easier than knowing how bad things really are some days.
I’m not vain or irrational enough to think my story is unique, or that our “breakups” were worse than any other, or that any aspect of our connection in each other’s lives was more true or perfect or special than the billions of other friendships or relationships throughout history, but fuck, it sure felt like it.
Some days, I think I miss you with every molecule of my body. But even more than that, I miss who I was when I was with you. I miss the me before you shattered my remaining naïveté about how the world works. I’m going to keep trying to remember how to care about anything, but I can’t trust people, I can’t trust my own judgment, I can’t trust my own thoughts (mere chemical reactions? A soul?). Life is such a fleeting, fickle, meaningless thing, and yet I wanted to spend it riding shotgun with you.
I’m sure I’m too stubborn to kill myself, but if I step off a curb into an oncoming bike and crack my head open again, I hope you find your little league cap and card in my dresser; I kept them safe for you. I never want my apartment keys back from you.
Please, I beg you, please find your happiness and make this decision worth it. Please, please don’t break anybody else along your journey if you can help it. (You can help it. You’re a good man.) I loved you enough to let you go. I love you enough that I hope you find happiness elsewhere.