Love that Never Was- Part 3

I have been writing letters to people from my past, trying to gain closure from painful memories. To see the previous entries in the series, click the “love that never was” tag, and it will take you to the other letters. As always, the events are true, but I don’t use people’s names.

I was cleaning my house today and I found the dried red carnation that you got me on my birthday. Do you remember that? The snow was everywhere and it wasn’t even safe to be on the roads, but I begged and pled with my dad to drive meet see you? So we drove almost an hour through the deep snow and got there safely and you were like, “What are you doing here?” You were often cold towards me, but I accepted it just the same because at least you acknowledged me.

Do you realize what I was willing to give you? Could you see all of the love I was trying to offer? Did you know how often I defended your lifestyle to the people around me? Or could you only see my depression?

I can understand that it was hard for you to be near me, and I really do know that people need to look out for themselves. But are you sure that you couldn’t come up with a better reason than “you didn’t get better fast enough” to dump me? Depression had been a part of my life for two decades- why did you think it would be gone in two months? Why did you even date me to begin with? I wasn’t hiding my pain, so you really can’t say that you didn’t know what you were getting in to.

And you know, it’s hard to feel pity for you and the terrible burden of depression that you had to carry, since it was at least twice as heavy for me. At least you even got to have times that weren’t painful. But I’m just lashing out because I’m angry at you. I’m angry that you told your female “friend” everything about our relationship, but didn’t want me to think you were cheating. I’m angry that she knew more about how you were feeling than I did. I’m angry that you brought her to the break up. I’m angry that you didn’t break up with me, because you didn’t have the courage to say the words yourself. I’m angry that over and over and over you kept hiding behind your friends and that you never really stood on your own feet and just talked to me.

I never wanted to date 7 people. Why did you make our relationship into something that involved your whole friend cluster? Why did you bad mouth me to all of them so that the whole group of you dumped me at once, and I couldn’t even see my friend any more? I was going to share our mutual friends you know- hang out at different times, never talk about you at all, and generally do everything that I could to keep things from feeling awkward. But I guess you needed them, so whatever.

Do you want to know what the issue was that led to our breakup- the thing that made me cry on the night that you left me sitting in the hallway while you hung out with your friends for 45 minutes? It was incest. I had met some people my age who had been molested by a relative as young children, who were drowning under insecurity, repressed memories, shattered self esteem, and more. I was strong for their sake, and I needed freedom to weep over how wrong that situation is. 

So here’s your stupid, dead flower- in the trash where it belongs.

Love that Never Was- Part 2

As mentioned two days ago, I have decided to try writing letters that I don’t intend to deliver in order to get some closure from baggage that I’m still carrying around. I don’t use real names, but the events are true, even if they’re vague for anonymity.

Wow, it’s been a while, hasn’t it? I remember your name today, even though I’ve forgotten most of the words of your language. Is that sad? Maybe not. Do you remember me? Is your English any better?

You know, I never told you, but I learned your name because you wore glasses, so I could recognize you. I know that the people in your country don’t all look the same, but isn’t that a problem that we all have? It just takes a while for us to recognize what features are significant in distinguishing one person from another? We all need to learn if it’s hair, skin tone, eye color, nose shape, cheekbones, forehead size, etc. We all look for the features that we are used to, so I looked at hair and eye color. Black hair and brown eyes were everywhere. You were the first one I met with glasses, and the lenses had a little blue brand name on one of the lenses.

I paid attention, but I didn’t understand most of what I saw. I was young. So young. 

Did you know that you were the first guy that I flirted with? It’s true. I was only going to be in your country for a few weeks, so there was no future, and no risk. I felt so free and beautiful. My appearance was pretty exotic, I suppose. Would you believe that I’m actually quite plain here? Would you believe that I gained more weight since you knew me? You were right to worry about my health, but I didn’t listen to you, because in my culture,  it’s not polite to bluntly tell someone they need to lose weight. Also, I was trying to commit suicide in a socially acceptable way, so that people wouldn’t get angry at me. It was complicated. 

In many ways, I was unhealthy.

So, honestly? I liked you. A lot. I was impressed by your faith and your ambition- how you actually wanted to be someone who changed your country for the better, instead of someone who wanted to complain but wouldn’t get involved. You were remarkable. And intense. 

Do you remember holding our hands up to one another through the airport glass? Did you know that as my plane took off, I mouthed the words “I love you” out the window? It was a perfect moment, like a dream. It felt like a movie. But you haven’t shown up randomly in a coffee shop or book store, we haven’t recognized each other, and our romance hasn’t been absurdly successful. Because this isn’t a movie, and because strangers do not end up living convoluted, destiny-laced lives. Nope. I’m just gone. You go on. I go on.

I don’t know anything about you really. Language barriers really prevent friendship from forming. How can trust or common ground form when we can only talk about a handful of topics? Who are your parents? Do you have siblings? How do you treat people around you? Are you kind or cruel? Do you have a short temper?

Were you only looking for an excuse to immigrate here when you asked me to be your girlfriend via email? Everyone told me that you were, but it didn’t feel true to me, not at the time. But who was I to judge you really? I was just a stranger from a shared dream.

Why did you remember me for so long? Why did you enjoy the day that we caught a salamander together? Two adults, scurrying around the room like children, chasing that little amphibian until we caught it finally, then laughing at the squirming tail in our hands after the little guy had skittered away? Why did that afternoon keep me in your mind? Why did you tell me you couldn’t find a girl like me in your country? Why would you say this stuff?

Am I a bad person for acting like people in my culture do? Is something wrong with me for reaching out to you with only shallow interest, rather than with earnestness? I didn’t know that your people don’t flirt. I thought my culture was universal. I was so young.

I’m sorry. You life would have been much easier if I had never entered it, or if I hadn’t chosen that trip to be my flirting debut. If I hadn’t felt free and beautiful, and if I hadn’t treated that trip like an adventure. But I was so young! I was caught in that stage of legal adulthood and mental idiocy! I’m sorry.

Please forgive me. Please forget me. It’s for the best.

Love that Never Was- Part 1

I was thinking about holding onto scraps again, and I realized that there are several interactions with people that I regret, which would be ok if I didn’t get hung up in them for a few weeks at a time. So in an effort to release the baggage and get some closure, I am going to try writing letters that I will never deliver to people with whom I need closure. These  are fake names and so on, for privacy.

Well, this is awkward, but I guess I should just start, huh? Things never really were weird between us, and we used to be able to talk about even really intense stuff. I just… you were pretty great, you know?

We were good friends and we laughed a lot. It all worked so naturally. I still remember the conversation that ended everything. You asked me if I knew any girls who liked you, and I paused forever, and said no. I paused because I didn’t know if I should say that I did or not. I had thought about dating you, I’ll admit, but you had never said anything that made it seem mutual! So then, when we were sitting in the hallway, and you asked me if anyone had a crush on you, rather than if I had a crush on you, it just didn’t seem worthwhile to take that risk of saying yes.

I know that you visited my family and met my parents. I know that meeting a girl’s parents can be significant progress towards being more than friends, but I also brought my best friend home the break before that! You were another close friend, and I put you in the same category as her, because I had no reason to think of you as anything else. It didn’t mean anything, even though they liked you and everything went smoothly.

I can see it now- the subtle things that I didn’t understand at the time- why you avoided certain topics with me, why you let me take your Star Wars cardboard cutout, why you regularly made time to fight the Borg with me in the Star Trek arcade game, why you were there for me when I needed someone to process my diagnosis with. Why we didn’t really talk much after that conversation in the hallway, when I said no. It looks like you cared for me, and sometimes, that makes it awkward, because we haven’t spoken in years, we both married other people, and I still have that paper cube from your dad’s office. (I’m using it for grocery lists.)

I don’t really know what to say to you, even now, because we have nothing. We are nothing. And it’s your fault. You never took the risk of telling me how you felt or explicitly labeling the times that we hung out as dates. You were a friend, I interacted with you like a friend, I wondered if we could have been more, but you never gave me the slightest sign that you were ever interested in me as anything else. You’re a good guy who finished last because he never actually signed up for the race- just ran along behind people who were actually competing for a prize.

So, I’m not going to feel guilty about not recognizing your subtle mind games any more, ok? If it had really mattered to you, if you had really cared, you could have said something. It’s not my fault that I did not see something you were trying to hide. So, congrats on your success. You fooled me, and I never suspected that you wanted anything more from me than what you had, so I ultimately discarded my budding feelings for you since they were pointless.

I’m sorry for yelling. I just hate that a single conversation can still bother me now. It’s been years. I just… I needed to say that. And you know what? It’s ok that we never dated each other. It’s ok that we never escaped the Borg either. Some things just aren’t meant to be. So take care, friend. I hope you’re living free too, not haunted by memories of me.