An Open Letter to the Man I (Still) Love

Oh, your sweet disposition, and my wide-eyed gaze. We’re singing in the car, getting lost upstate. Autumn leaves falling down like pieces into place, and I can picture it after all these days. – Taylor Swift, All Too Well

NOTE: I get asked (somewhat) frequently about the pieces that I write on love, so I do want to take a moment to clarify something. I have only been in love twice in my life. The first time was more of a high school, we have a lot of history so let’s try and make this thing work kind of love. The second time – the second time, well that love I still feel to this day. The love I feel may be unrequited now, but for nearly three years, it was a love based on an astounding friendship and a true understanding of the other person. Most of what I write when it comes to love, at times, draws from personal experience. But to be completely upfront, most of it is purely to tell a story – AKA it’s fiction. Yes, certain descriptions within a piece may be drawn from my personal life, but the only pieces that are “truly” true are the ones about the person that has stayed in my heart since 2012. This piece is about and for him.

I don’t really know how to start this. I do know I have thought long and hard about whether I would write this, let alone post it on a public space. When I first thought about sharing this, my biggest fear was that I would look like one of those pathetic people who just can’t let go. Then again, I realized this wasn’t actually a fear anyway. Usually the people that can’t let go – myself included – can’t for specific reasons that only they know. So here I am. Not that I can guarantee you’ll see this. And even if you do, I don’t anticipate anything happening because of it. (I’ve learned over the years that getting your hopes up doesn’t really help one way or another).

As stupid as it sounds, I hope your mom reads this. Maybe she’ll mention it to you, maybe she won’t. She probably won’t because she knows you and she knows me, and she probably knows that you and I are at two completely different places in our lives. Either way, I miss her and the rest of your family. The fact that Thanksgiving is coming up only makes it harder.

It’s been over a year and a half since the last time we held hands. It’s not even the handholding that I miss most though. It’s not the interrupted conversation kisses, the lovemaking, or even the Thanksgivings up in Oregon with your family. It’s the fact that I lost my best friend. That’s not me idealizing anything – that’s just the truth. We had built up a level of intimacy that was so intense and so real. Mainly, it was the first (and only) time in my life that I could be my complete self around someone. It was you dealing with my grumpy ass the time you woke me up at 3 a.m. by blasting Nicki Minaj. All of the times we watched way too many horror films. The nights we baked brownies or ordered pizza. The kitchen tiles that held our footprints from the evening we danced around in our underwear.

There’s very few people that realize that I’m still not over you. For the record, I’ve tried to move on. It. Just. Does. Not. Work. So now, it’s just me – focusing on myself. You know the spiel. But I am doing it. I’d hope you’d be proud of me because you always encouraged me to do so.

We were inseparable. And now I think it’s just me trying to find you in all the things you left behind. You’re on the other side of the country, for God’s sake. I’m still here, getting accustomed to enjoying me, myself, and I as company. But that doesn’t mean that I don’t spend certain nights sifting through that old scrapbook I made with memories from our first year together. It doesn’t mean that I didn’t just watch the video you took of us ice skating in San Francisco from a couple of Christmases ago. It doesn’t mean that I don’t keep the letters you wrote, the love notes you used to leave me on your fridge when I would come to your apartment before you got home from work. Here’s the funny part about taking the time to focus on oneself: there’s zero distractions. I mean, zero. Not one, goddamn thing or person to distract me from this raw emotion that I thought I had caged over a year ago. In some ways, it’s the best thing for me – being on my own. And in others, it’s torturous. I know I have to go through this – you, more than anyone, know and understand my past. I put you through hell, and I know you have accepted my apologies. And still, I am so deeply, deeply sorry for all of the ways I hurt you. Even back in April, the last time I saw you, you were so gracious. You let me cry into your suit jacket, and I wish I had told you before you left, that I was still in love with you.

I sometimes – often times – find myself wondering where you are, what you are doing, wanting nothing more than to just sit with you and drink coffee. Tea, actually. Neither of us were ever big coffee people. I wonder, do you still have those Mickey and Minnie tea mugs that I got us?

I know you wanted to try being friends just a few months ago. I know I was the one that said no. In many ways, I think that was the best decision for us. And yet there are moments where I regret that decision. Because it’s the silence that’s slowly killing me. You were such a big part of my life that I think you’ll always somehow be a part of me. Even if I let go completely, there’s no forgetting you.

If there’s one thing I’ve learned out of all of this, it’s that we don’t own love. Love just is. So it’s not about me being possessive, it’s not about me wanting you (although I do), it’s just about putting the truth out there. The truth being, that after all this time, I still love you so. I can accept the fact that you are not in the same place as me. That’s okay. Because all I want is for you to be happy. That selfish part that exists within all of us says, I want to be the one to make you happy, of course. But I’ve been selfish with you enough. I’m okay being in this on my own. The other weekend, when Rachel and I were both watching the Harry Potter movie marathon that was on TV, I was texting her how much I actually relate to Severus Snape. (“After all this time?” “Always.”) And being that Rach was the one that introduced us, she understands a lot. She’s one of the few people that know that I’m struggling. I asked her, why can’t I just let go? Insightfully, she told me, it’s always hard to let go of someone that accepted you and the entirety of yourself, and even being your complete self, you still found someone to be highly compatible with.

Either way, I recognize I am willingly breaking my own heart here. I think it’s the first time since we ended that I’m allowing myself to feel any semblance of us again. It’s the first time I’m actually realizing that I’m not over it. Of course, there’s the hidden parts of me that will hope there’s a time and place for us again, somewhere in this universe. But I know there’s a greater likelihood that it won’t happen. It’s painful. It’s hard as hell. But it’s acceptance. I know what we had is long gone, but it’s not forgotten. And for once, I’m okay with feeling this way. I’m okay with sharing it. I’m okay with you knowing. Or not knowing. I’m okay and at peace with my own emotions, as tumultuous and sad as they get sometimes.

Our love will continue to haunt me. Mostly, that old version of myself will continue to haunt me. Thank you for loving me how you did. Thank you for forgiving me when you did. Thank you for understanding me like you did. I will continue to remember you, and keep you in the corners of my heart. Always.

With love,

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