To the person I thought you were:
Once in a while, I come across a love note.
A snapshot—fresh blooms in a jar, taken to show off how thoughtful you are. An old movie sparks a memory of us on the couch—you nodding off, and the cozy, sleepy contentedness I felt at your side. I often paid more attention to that than the plot.
Once in a blue moon, your face comes back into focus, and with it, sparks of how it used to be at the beginning—and I savor them.
I recall how it felt to be your girl. You were a catch. You made me feel like a catch. We were going to do great things, have a beautiful, adventurous life together. We spoke of it endlessly, fantasizing like dreamers do.
I didn’t know then the shadows that were lurking. The feelings of betrayal. That I’d lose myself for longer than I care to admit. That the shock waves of our demise would cripple not just us, but everything and everyone around us.
And for a long time, I held onto those shadows.
But not anymore. Now, I hold only my idea of you. The way I thought things were before I knew better. I hold it gently in my cupped hand and blow on it like a tiny flame to keep it alive.
I don’t do this because I’ve forgiven you. (Some days, I have. Some days, I haven’t.)
I don’t do this because I can’t face what we became in the end. I am not rewriting what came to be. I can never forget that. Despite many of my love stories reaching painful ends, ours was the one that eviscerated.
But it’s simply impossible—the notion that it was all some grand lie, that you set out to break me. No, you are human. Me, too. We were brokenly human together.
I hold these memories of who you were to me because I know that version of you existed. I remember it well. I believed in you with my whole being. Time and again, you exposed the beauty that resides within you, like meteors in the night sky, and those things just can’t be faked.
I have not given up on the possibility of feeling a love like that again. Holding that burning ember gives me hope that who I thought you were still exists in this world. Maybe it’ll be someone who hasn’t been so hurt in their lifetime. Someone whose hurt doesn’t draw out my own so that we circle each other, two black holes trying to swallow each other up.
I mean, everyone goes through sh*t. Everyone. But there’s magic when two people can speak of it. Acknowledge it. Try to heal it. Instead of weaponizing it, like we did.
I hold onto my idea of you because I also want you to see, to remember, that my version of you really does exist. And it can still exist. And I hope it lasts with whoever your next great love is.
Finally, I hold onto my idea of you because I know your idea of me exists within me, too. And it reminds me that I have grown. I have healed. And there are and always have been galaxies of goodness residing in me, too. And I know that’s worth something.
To the person I thought you were: Thank you. I wish you well. I wish you peace.