A Love Letter to People Who Don't Love Me [Anymore]
One of the very first things people will say to you when tragedy strikes is, "I'll always be here for you." They'll say it so instinctively, almost like a reflex, maybe not fully understanding the gravity of what they had just promised. I remember thinking "always" is a long time to commit to. I remember being reassured just as vividly as I remember us slowly retreating to a life where we no longer knew each other.
And maybe I was naive and idealistic to take that at face value. And maybe "always" meant something different to you than it did to me. But there was a time where we knew the darkest corners of each other's minds. A time where my phone would buzz, and I just knew it was you. A time where you would drive by my house just to give me a hug.
So how do we go from that to strangers that quietly spectate on each other's lives through a phone screen? How could we have fallen so far from grace that reconciliation isn't possible?
I wake up and I know when it's your birthday. I look at the date and I know when it's the anniversary of when your family member died and that today will be hard for you. I spot your new tattoo in your pictures and I know what it means and why you got it. Even if you pretend not to know me, I'll always know you.
I read once that our bodies hold onto trauma in the metaphorical parts that represent their pain. Whenever I start to spiral, I immediately feel pain in my throat for all the words that were left unsaid. I choked back too many words that I almost drowned in them. So, I never do that anymore. I don't hold onto pride or self-preservation or any other trivial thing that used to matter. I always say how I feel and let the chips fall where they may.
So I sent the risky text messages. And I made the bold speeches in the locker room, not caring who heard or how hard my heart was pounding. I mailed the handwritten letters apologizing and trying to make peace. I did all the grand gestures and extended an olive branch because I thought maybe you felt the same way and were just too afraid to make the first move.
All I ever got back was silence. It took me a long time to understand that not getting a message, is also a message.
I left my heart on the table and none of you took it. I watched you all walk straight out of my life and the worst part is that you made it look so easy. You never looked back, you never caved. Not even once. I waited for a "happy birthday" message that never crossed your mind. I waited for an "I'm proud of you," message that never came. I waited for an "I miss you," that I guess you never felt. Your silence made me feel so forgettable.
I know the facts about people who are bonded by tragedy. I know that a lot of times people separate to leave the past in the past. I know statistically the odds weren't in our favor, but I guess I just thought we were different. I thought you loved me the way that I loved you. I know all your favorite songs. I know the pain in your heart. I know your worst fears and all your pipe dreams.
One of the worst tragedies in this life is to grieve someone whose still alive.
I have to admit that I'm guilty of breaking my own heart. I let my mind declare war against me. I speculate on the narrative you must have of me in your mind, but the truth is, I'll never get to know. Maybe you hate me. Maybe I never even cross your mind. Maybe you care about me, but just can't show it. I've asked for closure from people who are determined never to give it to me.
And maybe it would be easier if I was the type of person to hate people who've hurt me. But I'm not. I'm the kind of person that sees you fully. I see your childhood wounds and how your pain is making you act a certain way. I see that maybe I'm a walking reminder of a time in your life that you're trying to heal from. I see that maybe all we ever had in common was pain.
Even though it's not my choice to love you from afar, I still send you positive energy. I still hear songs and wonder if you like them. I still hear news and wonder what you think about it. I still cheer you on and pray for your happiness, even if I'll never know if you do the same for me.
Always with love,