The following is an unsent letter I wrote to an ex friend a while back. It’s messy and a touch melodramatic, but so am I. (Enneagram type fours, am I right?) I went back and forth a lot about whether or not to post it, but I finally decided that I should in the name of closure, and because I think that it is a pain most of us have felt. I hope that you don’t see yourself and your own experiences in this post, but if you do, you’re certainly not alone.
Have you ever experienced the pain of loving someone who stopped loving you back? I think that you have, because I remember sitting with you through the worst of it. It is such a devastating ache to care deeply for someone, to assume that it is mutual — because it has always been mutual and I’m still the same me that I have always been — only to discover that it isn’t true and hasn’t been for a while. There is no hurt like finding out I have been breaking my own heart for a painful but worthy love only to realize that I’ve been causing myself anguish over an empty shell. That thing that I longed to retain, I have already lost. The person I so deeply cared for has already forgotten me and I am left with broken fragments of nothingness scattered all around me where you used to stand.
“We drifted apart naturally and it was no one’s fault” you said.
Did we? But did we? Because I have felt for months that I was rowing upstream, feeding myself comforting lies to excuse your behavior because I longed to feel the acceptance that you used to always show me. I have been clinging to old memories of your love and telling myself that’s how it still is, even though everyone else could already see that it wasn’t. I would tell myself that you were just going through a phase, but as it turns out, I was the phase that you were going through and you have already moved on. I kept telling myself that our bond was stronger than that, but apparently I was the weak link in our broken chain and now I no longer own an arctic wolf.
The silence has been a chasm, but I thought that perhaps you just had nothing to say back at the moment so I continued to shout into the wind indefinitely, hoping to reach you. I would text you and get a one word reply or watch the conversation die whenever you held it. I would invite you to things that you lamely excused yourself from. I carved time out to visit you and you would comply when convenient — or maybe you would just run errands instead. But I ignored all of it, waiting for you to tell me what was going through your mind the way that you always used to. Then whispers began to get back to me — people whispered, instagram whipsered, and your silence whispered loudest of all: I realized that you have never stopped speaking, you only stopped speaking to me. Your life has continued forward — filled with a happy frenzy that you no longer felt I deserved to be privy to in the way that I once was.
Oh, it hurt. I cannot even say how it hurt. I wrote and burned 11 letters, each too mean and emotional. I cried, I lectured myself on overreacting, and then I cried again. I will always support your decisions and love you the best that I can, but when did you decide that I should no longer know what those decisions were and why? When did I stop being worth an explanation? I guess you decided that the day that you stopped loving me. When was that exactly? Six months ago? A year? The last time I confronted you because you would not speak to me about the things I did that hurt you? I don’t know when it was, but to me it is fresh, so the pain still holds all the malicious brightness and vigor of youth.
Finally, unable to hold back my sadness, I said, “you’re hurting me, talk to me, friends talk.”
You said, “I don’t owe you an explanation. You’re being selfish.”
You said to someone else that you like me, “less and less every day.” I felt the weight of every single day slam into me when I heard that.
I sparked with wounded anger. I said, “Then I guess we aren’t friends like I thought we were. I’ll not impose any longer where I’m not wanted.”
You said (again, always, to someone else) that you won’t respond to me because you have seen my “true colors” and they are mean.
You’re right, my truest colors are in fact the meanest colors you could imagine. I fill up with a hateful, poisonous rage. I am plagued with an all-consuming anger that looks for chinks in my enemy’s armor so that I can craft the deadliest words and take them down swiftly. I am ugly in my weakness, snarling and snapping and I go for the throat in a flash of blinding, white, werewolf-ian fury. You can guess at my ugliest true colors, but you have never seen them.
I told someone once — in a sigh of exasperation after you overreacted when you should have apologized — that you like to play the part of the victim when we argue. It has always irritated me because I have never yet made a victim of you. You would know it if I had because you — in all of your self-loathing fragility — would not be able to stand back up again if I let my anger loose against you.
I come from a tribe of hotheaded people who wield their anger like daggers, stabbing swiftly and deeply with teeth bared in a snarl of hatred. But the anger always fades as shame and apologies bubble to the surface of our lips. The eruption of swiftly flowing magma soon turns cold and new life is able to grow in the ashes. We are a proud and angry people, quick to look for fights that we won’t quit until we win. We are not a grudge holding people, but we are also not people who are often forgiven by those outside of our own. Our rock-hard Scottish heads crash against the spongy skulls of nicer, weaker people; once the stinging fades, we are left to wipe up the bloody remains of those who didn’t have the strength to recover.
But you have not seen that. Never once have you seen me at my ugliest — my most explosive, sharpest, lowest, meanest, truest point of color. Because I am afraid to hurt your gentle spirit and because I love you. I have shielded you from the damage I’ve always known I could do. Despite what you may think, I do not delight in the hideous flaws of me and mine. But as much as I don’t like it, even if I bite my tongue until it bleeds and never say another cruel word as long as I live, my clan rage is a part of who I am. It is woven into me and I will not lie and say that it is not there.
And yet, even despite my attempts at tempered words, you cry defeat and run in retreat. You wave your paper cut and claim that it’s fatal in a pout of petty anger and I am left standing alone inside a conversation that you declared a battlefield. I stand here, holding my own bleeding heart and wondering if it was the ragged, oozing hole in my chest that frightened you away, or the guilt you feel for being the one who put it there. You ran when you should have said, “I’m sorry.” You blustered and accused when you should have said, “I didn’t mean to cause you harm.” You never looked back when all I wanted you to say is, “I still love you.”
And now, just like that, you are nothing. You choose to be nothing to me. After years of sweet laughter and confiding our hearts in one another, my life is filled with the physical evidence of you. But where it once filled me with soft smiles and warm memories, I am left with only the icy ghost of a love I no longer possess. You won’t respond to me. What I meant to be a dialogue you made a wall. What I had hoped would prove that my feelings were hurt over nothing, showed me the nothing that is already surrounding me as I grasped blindly for the love of a sister that I no longer have.
Until next time,