Unsent Letter

Dear Z,

Well, hello there. I doubt you never expected me to write you another letter, did you? I mean, it’s been over four years since we’ve had any contact at all. I’m not sure you even think of me. I don’t know how I feel that. For the most part, I’m fine with it. You’re out of my life, I’ve moved on, and I’m happy to keep it that way. That’s while you’ll never actually “receive” this letter. But that’s okay. I’m not writing it for you. I’m writing it for me. So you’ll forgive me if I picture you on the other end reading this. I know it’ll never happen, but just picturing it makes me feel content.

I’m not sure what kind of letter this is going to be. I’m not entirely sure why I’m even writing it. I just know that even after all of this time, I still think of you every now and then. I even wrote a couple of diary entries about you last Fall. So I figured I’d write you a letter. I don’t know. Maybe this is my goodbye letter. Maybe some part of me hopes that once I write this, I can quit thinking about you from time to time. Though another part of me doubts that’s going to happen.

At any rate, I just wanted to share my thoughts and memories of “our” past with you. Even if I continue to think of you — and it’s not a totally terrible thing to think of you — at least I’ll have gotten a chance to express those thoughts. And I guess that’s all I really feel that I need right now. So anyway, here we go.

We broke up five and a half years ago. No, let’s rephrase that. You dumped me five and a half years ago. I’m not exactly bitter about that, you know. As I say it, I’m not even really angry about it. I just want to state how things went down clearly. Maybe it’s petty of me. I don’t know. It doesn’t matter. But like I said, I’m not angry. In retrospect, I now realize that it was bound to happen.

Oh, don’t get me wrong. I was angry with you once upon a time. But you know that, don’t you? I chewed you out in an email a year after the fact. What can I say? I’m human, and I get angry. I will neither excuse it nor rationalize it. Just don’t expect me to apologize for it, either.

Of course, in fairness, I don’t blame you for everything bad in that mess I thought of as a relationship. (I’m still not sure whether you ever actually considered it one.) I made my share of mistakes. I was less than a model boyfriend. And for that, I’m sorry. But I’ve grown since then.

I suppose most people would say the regretted the relationship and the breakup, considering how messy it was. But I’m not most people. I can only look back, nod, and say what a fool I was. But I also have to look at the path leading on from there and realize that my foolishness earned me wisdom. One of the people on a mailing list I frequent often comments that experience is the thing that you get after you needed it. I’ve always liked that saying since the first time I heard her utter it. I think that’s partly because that’s how I see the nightmare I went through with you.

I learned a lot about myself and relationships from dealing with the emotional rollercoaster dating you put me through. Or perhaps I should say that I discovered the kinds of things that I needed to unlearn because of it. Either way, it works. And it makes a lot of sense.

I’m dating a wonderful guy now. His name is Mike. We’ve been together for three years now. I’ve enjoyed every minute of it, though the relationship hasn’t always been easy. Like I said, I’ve had to unlearn a lot of things. I still have things I need to unlearn, but I’m doing better now. Unlearning is rough business. Especially because things go to hell until you do.

There were little things about Mike that would give me flashbacks to my experience with you. Like the way he’s so tightlipped with his feelings. He doesn’t wear his heart on his shirt sleeve like I do. So there have been times when I would see him not expressing how he felt, and it would terrify me. I’d become frightened that, like you, he would suddenly decide he doesn’t have feelings for me after all. And let’s face it, you did that more than once, despite the obvious truth to the contrary.

But I’m slowly learning something. There’s a huge difference between you and Mike. Mike simply feels uncomfortable expressing his feelings at any great depth. But he acknowledges that he has them. You’d never do that. Hell, half the time, you weren’t willing to admit your feelings to yourself. In a way, I kind of pity you for that. But understanding that has enabled me to start seeing Mike in a different way. I now can rest comfortable on the knowledge that he does have those feelings, regardless of whether he expresses them. Sure, I might have a moment’s insecurity. But I can let it wash over me, and then take a serious look at our relationship. And there comes a point when I can acknowledge that while my insecurity — while very real on an emotional level — is not rational. And I can live with the occasional irrational fear, I think. Especially considering that addressing them in this way seems to make them quite short-lived.

At one point, I think I was mad at you about all this. Or at least I think I thought that I was mad at you about all this. I was mad that I had to unlearn things. I was made that I found myself comparing Mike to you and getting all emotional on him. But in reality, I think was more mad at myself. I was frustrated.

You see, I’m not even sure how much of this was “you” at all. Oh sure, everything I’ve said about you is true. YOu did deny your feelings. You did vascillate on how you saw our relationship. You did put me through an emotional game. But in the end, I played that game. I stuck in there. And to be honest, you only played off of things going on in my own heart. I can’t help but wonder, if it hadn’t been you, would it have been someone else? I think it probably would’ve been.

Like I said, I’ve grown stronger. I’ve grown older. I’ve grown wiser. And I’ve been able to rebuild myself into a better person. And in a sense, this all came from my experiences with you. But don’t pat yourself on the back too much. As I said, I think that if I hadn’t gotten messed up with you, I would’ve experienced much the same with someone else. So I’m taking 95% of the credit for this myself. I’ll leave you 5%, just as a token of my love for you.

Yeah, that’s the strangest part. I still love you. I probably love you more now than I did back when we were together. But it’s a very different kind of love. For starters, it’s not the kind of love that I’d ever build a relationship on. I don’t see you that way at all. Besides, like I said, I’ve been with a man I dearly love in that way for three years.

Instead, it’s the kind of love that one has for past memories. It’s the kind of love that one has for people and experiences that have touched them somehow. Let’s face it, you were a part of my life. In a way, you still are a part of my life. I think you always will be. I’m not sure I’d want you to be an active part of my life, even as a friend. I’m just not sure how I feel about that. But my time with you has shaped what I am now, and that is something I will cherish and honor. After all, it’s a matter of cherishing and honoring myself. And I deserve that. I owe that to myself.

So there you go. Take care of yourself. And I hope that your own experiences have led you out of your own nightmare.

— Jarred.

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