This is a letter I wrote to the girl who my ex-fiancé broke up with me for. They are currently dating. I’ll never send it, but writing it took a weight off my shoulders.
We’ve never met, but I’m sure you know more about me than I would ever like a stranger to know, and unfortunately I know more about you than I ever wanted to know. So since we’ve been forced into a situation of sharing, I’m going to share with you some things you should know. Some of these things you may already know, some you may not, I just want to ensure that it’s all out in the open. You have known Aryeh since what, March or April? I’ve known Aryeh since I was 16, around 9 years. Aryeh’s not a bad person, and this email is not intended to make you believe so…this email is intended to state the facts, you can draw your own conclusions. I’ll do my best to avoid voicing my own opinions, but unfortunately I have quite a few strong ones based on my own personal experiences, experiences that Aryeh created or played an active role in.
Aryeh and I were together for a year before l tried to break up with him for the first time. By this point in our relationship we had shared quite a few firsts together. It was the first time either of us had fallen in love, the first time either of us had had sex, really the first time either of us had been in a real relationship. My sister was getting married in Costa Rica, and we were so looking forward to our first vacation together, even if we did have to share it with all of my sister’s family and friends. Maybe a week, give or take a few days, before the trip I was on his computer. His IM (remember IM, ha!) box was open, and I noticed a conversation he had with another girl (an ex-gf of one of his friends). It’s been years, so I don’t remember the exact wording, but he basically was asking her to email him naked pictures of herself. I was crushed, and to no fault of Aryeh, I’m not quite sure I ever fully recovered from this blow. My lack of confidence in his attraction to me and my trust in his commitment would be a recurring theme in our major arguments until the end. When Aryeh is confronted in a wrong-doing the pattern that follows is always the same: first he’ll either deny committing the act (which happens rarely as he is quite honest) or he’ll deny the wrong in the act. This is typically a 10-15 minute conversation or argument just to get him to admit that that his actions were inappropriate. Next, after he has admitted the wrong, he tries to downplay it…’yes, I see your point, I shouldn’t have done it, but it’s really not that big of a deal’ sort of a conversation takes place. Again, another 10-15 minutes for him to take full ownership of the wrong. Finally, the apology comes. Although I had accepted his apology before we even boarded the plane, his behavior had scared the shit out of me. I tried to end our relationship in Costa Rica, telling him that when we got back, I didn’t think we should be together anymore. He sobbed, he got down on both knees and begged, he even made himself physically ill, dry heaving for half an hour. His desperation convinced me, and we left Costa Rica intact.
I won’t bore you with all of the ups and downs of our relationship…to be honest with you, there weren’t many. There was little turbulence, more of a ‘steady as she goes’ type deal. The fights varied, but those main themes I mentioned before were typically present in them in one way or another. The major fights were always the same: Jamie gets scared, Jamie tries to leave, Aryeh doesn’t let Jamie leave. By the end of our relationship I had tried and failed to end it on at least five different occasions. This is one of the reasons I had such a difficult time letting go. It’s unimaginable that after trying and failing to just give up as many times as I did, each time tying myself tighter to him as he made me promise to love him forever and to never give up on him, that he would just change his mind. By the end these fights were no longer me trying to leave, how could I after promising over and over that I wouldn’t? Instead they had transformed into me telling him that he would one day leave me, that he would find someone he wanted to be with more (talk about a self-fulfilling prophecy!).
These underlying issues that were never really resolved played their part in our downfall. So you may wonder why I was so surprised when it ended. In all honesty, these problems, as serious as they were, played a minimal role in our relationship. I’d say they took up a total of 10% of our time all together, 15% at most. The other 85-90% of it was filled with laughter, genuinely enjoying each other. We welcomed challenges, and embraced good fortune. There are a lot of precious memories that I get the feeling he’d like to forget…perhaps he already has. I won’t, not because I can’t let go, but because I don’t see how anyone can properly move on without them. There were the regular things: baseball games, parties, movies, bars, holidays, birthdays. The sad things: the death of his grandfather, saying goodbye when we had to take trips without each other, talking about how our parents had fucked us up, car accidents (all of them his…make sure you buckle up ; ). The great things: my sisters wedding, the birth of my niece, my sister & brother in-law asking us to be my niece’s guardian, promotions, new jobs, new cars. The best was the irregular things: a trip to New York to catch the final Yankees Red Sox Series at old Yankee Stadium, trips to Georgia, going to see DMB at the last possible minute @ Wrigley, driving to Detroit on a whim to see the Yankees, surprise overnight stays at romantic hotels…and some of my favorites, just getting in our car and driving. Honestly, I don’t regret a second of it…I had a blast.
What I do regret is how it ended. This is where I begin to question his character. Not for ending it, but for the way he chose to end it. By no means was I perfect. My actions were based on raw emotion, very little logic. He may have told you that I attempted to guilt him by telling him I was suicidal. No guilt trip was intended, although I don’t deny the result. Unfortunately, it was not a mere manipulation tactic; on more than one occasion I came very close to doing something very stupid. I was extremely overwhelmed. Devastated as I was by the loss of Aryeh, I found solace in nothing. My thoughts of suicide went from wishful thinking to active planning when I learned that I may have had MS. You know when you go to a movie, and it’s so bad that you get up and leave in the middle of it because you know that it’s not going to get better? That’s what I felt my life had become. And then it wasn’t just Aryeh, a blast from the past plagued me with drama; thoughts of rescue, being swept off my feet, followed by the quick realization that jumping out of one problem and into another only creates more problems (go figure!). God is mysterious…He saved my life with a benign tumor (mysterious MS-like symptoms solved!). Life suddenly becomes worth fighting for when you feel the choice to live it is being taken away. The weeks between finding out I had a tumor and the results of my biopsy were the clearest of my life. I had been praying for a miracle since Aryeh and I broke up; my prayers were most definitely answered.
The points of my desperation during the break up stemmed from my complete confusion of Aryeh’s sudden lack of care for me. I was desperate and drowning, the more I tried to reach out for him to help, the farther away he ran. It didn’t make any sense to me, he was my best friend, and in my greatest need, not only did he refuse to lend me his hand, he threw me rocks. He told me I was unattractive; overweight and unfortunately small boobs. He refused to give me answers, and was regularly frustrated at my questions; how dare I ask why it was over, he wasn’t in love and that was that. He made it clear that any friendship was to be on his terms; which were that I ask nothing of him, but that I be there to support him in his new life if he ever required the support, which he doubted that he would. He tested me at this by engaging me in long conversations about you; how he felt about you, how fickle you felt about him, your reasons not to be with him, etc. Any question asked was perceived as a criticism, and any criticism dealt was perceived as a direct indicatoion that I was undeserving of his friendship, and that he was only offering it (with his limited terms) because in his words ‘he knew I needed him’. He was confused by my confusion. In all reality he was crystal clear. I wasn’t confused in what he was saying, I was confused about everything that led up to it. The eight years of our friendship, the six years of our relationship, the four years of our engagement. The week before he ended it he told me he would never let me go. Days before he ended it we had sex. Hours before he ended it he reached out to hold me in our bed. I was epically confused, despite his clarity in words.
Everything turned into such a mess. I didn’t become angry until I began being harassed. I sincerely hope that some of the things I was told about you are not true. I sincerely hope that you had nothing to do with it any of it. I don’t know you from Eve, so I can’t say one way or another, and at this point I really don’t care. I feel very badly for anyone who goes out of their way to do the things that were done; purposely trying to hurt someone else is a scream from someone who is hurting. I suppose that’s why there were times where I couldn’t control my emotions, and I said some very nasty things to Aryeh. I’m sorry I chose to egg on the waitstaff at Champ’s. I should have just left, but my waitress’ distress for me and my situation was comforting. Her words about you were cruel, and I shouldn’t have repeated them. From where I was sitting, I couldn’t actually see you, but I’m sure her words had less to do with what you actually looked like, and more to do for her sympathy for me. Im actually not entirely sure what you look like. My only image of you is a blurry face seen through several shades of anger and dissapointment at a movie theatre, and I’d very much prefer that the image not become clearer.
There is one thing that sticks out the most in my head from our break up. As he was delivering the first, but final blow, he said “I’m sorry I’m not the man I said I was.”. That was where my heart broke, more for him than for me. That man was loyal, compassionate, forgiving, and loving. I’m well aware that his words were not meant in general of his life, but specific to me. I know he meant that he didn’t want to be those things for me. I hope that he can be those things for someone, without giving up when things become mundane. I hope that someone can be those things for him. Of course, I don’t know the intimate details of your relationship, I can only make assumptions. I assume that your relationship has little hope for success, based on how it began. I assume that he is trying to be someone he isn’t, and that you are assisting by trying to turn him into someone you want him to be. I recognize my assumptions for what they are, short-sided opinions…I know I’m only feeling the trunk of the elephant. I hope that regardless of whether or not my opinions turn out to be right or wrong, that both of you are happy, and end up happy.
Surprisingly, I don’t hate Aryeh. Aryeh will always be family to me, regardless of what I am to him. My only anger that I still harbor towards him is for his mistreatment of my family. My three year old niece cried for her Uncle Aryeh the weekend they came in for his graduation party. When her Uncle Teddy came to visit them in Georgia, she cried. She had misunderstood and thought that her Uncle Aryeh was coming…she loves him very much. My only solace in her pain is that she is three, and her memory will hopefully take care of this loss for her. Aryeh broke up with me a week before my mother’s birthday. I asked him if he would still call her to wish her a happy birthday, he said he would. I made the mistake of telling my mother this; she was devastated when the call never came. I spent two hours on the phone with my 61 year old mother the day after her birthday trying to console her as she cried for the loss of a son whom she loved dearly. My entire family loves Aryeh, they are angry with him for what he’s done to me, and I am angry with him for what he did to them.
I say this with 100% sincereity and no bitterness despite the way it will sound. Protect your family. Understand that Aryeh feels no obligation towards family. He never felt the security or protection that most children feel from family, and therefore lacks the sense and ability to reciprocate that loving obligation to protect and secure anyone whom he might call his family. He understands the concept, and plays the role very well…but when it comes down to what he wants, he’ll give it all up without blinking because he’s never felt it.
This is my only request of you, and you are in no way obligated to fulfill it. Recognize his sacrifice, even if he does not. Recognize that Aryeh comes to you with nothing, a clean slate; not because he had been patiently waiting for you to manifest into his life so that he could begin living, but because he gave up most of what he had in his life for you. He may minimize this, saying that he didn’t want any of it anyway; I assure you that this is not true. I’ll concede that he may have wanted you more, but that in no way diminishes his want for the things he sacrificed. A father that may very well disown him because of the religious choices he’s made for you and as a consequence of this – a brother who thinks the world of Aryeh, friends that he’s had for close to ten years and despite sporatic communication would have been there for him at his request at the drop of a hat, a family that has loved him and made him feel important, dogs that he cherished and would have died for, the first place he lived that really felt like his home, and someone who truly loved him and would have stuck it out with him until the end. Recognize this sacrifice, do no chastise it, or take it for granted, even if he does. Do everything you can to give him more back in return, as much as your heart can trust to give.
You both deserve happiness…everyone does. I hope that you can find it without hurting each other the way him and I hurt each other.