Letters To Past Lovers (Series)
Art by Sam Liacos.
Break ups are filled with what ifs and excuses, this and that of why it didn’t work out. The time frame between the actual break up and finally feeling like yourself is messy and overwhelming, especially when you’re the one who feels left behind. Your mind starts going off on it’s own with questions you still want to ask, or did ask but were left unanswered. Not knowing what actually happened or realizing there’s several valid truths (yours and theirs), makes it hurt even more. It’s exhausting, but it’s also in these mind-racing moments that we can find clarity and the strength to breathe and exist on our own again, especially by writing all these thoughts down. The Letters To Past Lovers series is a collection of unsent letters about romance and it’s accompanying heartache, it’s an online Casa di Giulietta where old lovers come to term with the end. –Tania Peralta.
Dear Mr. Timing,
I can’t keep doing this with you anymore. I can’t keep pretending that this was what we both wanted.
When we ended I told everyone it was because of timing. Timing was something tangible enough to blame. I would tell them all the little great moments–The safeness you made me feel, the nights where you put me to bed with warm words of our future and you making me listen to Goodie Mob’s entire discography to understand the teenage version of you. (I get it, you were complicated). I didn’t question how quickly we fell nor how I loved the thought of you telling me how you wanted nothing more than to buy my favorite shampoo for your shower. It was your way of saying I was your girl and I had a place in your space and essentially your life. (That memory haunts me in the earliest of mornings.)
Over time, moments like that started being replaced with texts. You said the right words in those messages to fill the void long enough for me to not notice. When you shut down, you used your words to compensate for detachment. You cared so much about your job but as a result you started to drown in your own personal demons. Work. Family. Balancing us. (Although “balancing us” shouldn’t have been a demon at all.)
Things were coming at you at a million miles per hour and I didn’t know what to do other than just hope to be a speck of comfort for you. I justified that these were things I couldn’t control or feel like I had any place to help in. These were your demons and I knew better than to fan the flames.
I convinced myself that if I stayed as your rock, things would fall into place as destined to. All my guy friends told me to “show him you can handle his shit.” It wasn’t about me, it was about all the things you were going through that were stopping us.
You decided to slowly push me away. With every nudge, I tried catching whatever rays I could that were even a quarter of the light you were to me. I wanted to understand what was going through your mind so badly. Why couldn’t I be your escape? Was I not worth it? You kept apologizing for your lack of presence, emotional and physical. I started to lose count of the times I heard the word,”Sorry.”
I wonder how fucked up you had me. How fucked up I looked to my friends who started to see through the rose-colored shield I had put up. I kept protecting you because I wanted to hold on desperately to something, even if it were text messages. I wasn’t sure if I was bordering sadness or being pathetic. And still, I couldn’t blame you.
When I finally had the courage to end things between us, it dawned on me that it was what you wanted even though my words and actions led us there. It was my birthday and there I was ending things with you so you could re-center, find your own gravity. I protected your feelings over mine. I protected you over me.
We both agreed that maybe if the stars aligned, we would be together. A chapter that would be left purposely unfinished. Somehow that brought me solace, somehow I gave myself that flicker of hope that we would be a “we” again someday.
Months later I reached out because I yearned for you. I missed us and the feeling of safeness that you had given me. I don’t know if it was a moment of weakness as much as a moment of wanting to be wanted by you again. We saw each other and got tangled into our thoughts and touches. Days later we realized this wasn’t okay. You weren’t sure if you could be in a relationship and I knew I wanted more.
I forced myself to see past the spectrum of my feelings geared towards you. I wrote on the wall all the things we messed up on–big shit, little shit and shit that I didn’t even think mattered– like it was some ridiculous math equation. I prided myself on my independence–a promise I kept to myself because I didn’t want to be like my mother, to be second. Second in priorities. Second in feelings.
To say the words “I deserved better” felt new to my lips. It was as if for one second I was undeserving of that statement because I hadn’t acknowledged myself until that moment. I was second to whatever you were going through, an emotional cum rag for you to go to when things were either really good or really bad. I deserved better. I deserved to be first.
It wasn’t timing that broke us apart, it was you.
I have to say, I thought this area of abstractness you left me in was new to me, but it isn’t. On some level, I’ve been here before. Writers tend to live in the abstract for it defines the very essence of who we are (truth seekers) and what we strive to bring to the world through our voices (clarity). This is simply a new color of the same abstractness; the difference being that I have yet to become accustomed to this hue and truth be told, I’m really not feeling the cold colors of unrequited love that are splattered around this room.
The other truth that I’ve briefly shared with you before is that this hurts–missing you. It fucking sucks. It sort of feels like I’m being punished for a crime that I have been guilty of since the day we met–being myself (and for that I am 1000% guilty). Perhaps, the real crime is that who I am is not enough for you. And therein lays another crime–you not expressing that to me when you had more than enough chances to do so.
Right after you wantonly dropped what we had, I referred back to that text exchange we shared a week prior where I offered to walk away from our “thing” if you were feeling too scattered. We even talked about it face to face because the texts were getting messy like the edges of saran wrap. And you squashed it, only to rub my face in it a week later. I don’t think you know how much that hurts–to feel safe and secure in your feelings for someone, to have them acknowledge those feelings, eradicating any doubt, only to turn around and have them take it back or walk away so haphazardly.
You words of intention, commitment, and desire were valuable; they left the purse of your lips only to be deposited in my memory’s vault, in hopes that they would continue to endear me. I stored them and held them close because my heart was building upon them with the notion that you needed time. I wanted you to have that time. No, I needed you to have that time.
When one is left in the dark they rely on the light of their own thoughts to help guide them through the mire of emotional leftovers.
Those words, your words, were a currency to me in which you chose to deflate based on a future you believed lacked sound analysis. Or so I think…or so I thought. Who am I to ponder? When one is left in the dark they rely on the light of their own thoughts to help guide them through the mire of emotional leftovers.
I recalled you telling me that during your trip to Coachella a close friend of yours took you to task and called you a dick for leading me on, citing that you knew all along you were going to break my heart. You said that you didn’t know it would come to this. You recanted that anecdote as if it was a badge of honor for admitting that someone else called you out on your messy dealings with my heart. Honestly, you could have kept that to yourself. Depending on the weather and the day of the week, I could agree with your friend. As the adage goes, “hurt people, hurt people.” As each day passes I have found myself agreeing with your friend more and more. The day and climate have become arbitrary. A former lover wounded you and I caught the brunt of your pain. You even walked away from our situation just as easily as he left you. Irony can be one timely son of a bitch.
‘Hurt people, hurt people.’ A former lover wounded you and I caught the brunt of your pain.
In one of our post break-up talks you mentioned this “uphill struggle to not communicate” with me. Why a struggle? I didn’t wrong you in any way. You said that we could be friends and despite the cold bowl of “It’s Not You, It’s me” soup you served me, I felt like I could handle that. I deeply questioned if I could, then decided that I could. I valued your presence in my life. My heart was opening day-by-day to you without reservation.
I don’t get how we can go from 100 to 0 that quickly, as if what we developed never mattered to you at all.
Prior to your teary-eyed season finale in that bar on the Bowery, in which my unguarded feelings were part of the season ending punchline, your communication was eh at best. So naturally, I call bullshit on your struggle to not communicate with me. Your denial of me has been perplexing to say the least but it seems to come with relative ease for you. We couldn’t chat once in a blue? Check in on a friend? What does acting like we didn’t share an intimacy that extended beyond the bedroom get you or me? For you, it means time away from a man who sought your friendship, your heart, your smile, your trust, sensitivity, and compassion. Perhaps it even allowed you to make room for a new person to exist in your life. For me, a cold bowl of emotional confusion sprinkled with spiced flakes of doubt. If I’m such a great guy then why be so distant? Why act like I handed you the cold soup when you were expecting something much more comforting? You say that we can be friends, but I’m the only one who has ever reached out to say hello. I don’t get how we can go from 100 to 0 that quickly, as if what we developed never mattered to you at all.
You didn’t have to push me out and act like we never existed. You didn’t have to ignore me because you never loved me the way that I loved you.
Yes, we do have our friends to confide in and the minutia of our daily endeavors to provide an escape. But we also have each other in this; the only two people with all 20 of our toes on the ground that matter. It feels like you’re doing the non-speaking thing out of pride, to prove a point. Kind of like you’re stalling, hoping that one day I’ll be over you or become involved with someone else so that the residual guilt you carry will shed itself that much easier. Sadly, it doesn’t work like that. You didn’t have to push me out and act like I or we never existed. You didn’t have to ignore me because you never loved me the way that I loved you. “Hurt people, hurt people.” This is a truth about you that I am slowly processing to this day.
That night of your birthday when I called you I wanted you to hear exactly what I had to say. Through this pain that has been washing over me I still miss you immensely and I offer my unwavering support to you from afar. It’s hard to convey these feelings when the other person doesn’t really show any interest. I can arrive at a destination of understanding regarding your actions to then check-in but it doesn’t mean that I have to like the decor of the surroundings. The hue of this place doesn’t suit me. It leads me to question you and myself, really wondering why you did this if I measured up to all of these wonderful attributes that you value in a man. You chose the position of saying, “It’s me, not you.” I’ve taken the position as the rebound that floated and remained at the top of your pool of your then current options.
I’ve taken the position as the rebound that floated and remained at the top of your pool of your then current options.
Calling you on the night of your birthday was very impulsive, yes. What I did that night was the culmination frustration and hope that I couldn’t downplay any longer. Missing you has not been fun. It hurts. That night was 100% of me reaching for 100% of you in that exact moment. All that I am right now is a humbled man feeling for you, reaching for your warmth in these moments in a room shaded by a brand new hue, left holding a bowl of your finest gazpacho.
Listen to me carefully, David. I’m only going to say this once. This is the story of how you carelessly handled my heart, but never touched it. This is how I came to realize I shouldn’t be swallowing your cum at these hours of the night. That I shouldn’t be tainting the softness and angel-like beauty that are my lips with your false intentions and misguided excuses for why you couldn’t hold my hands in public. This is the story of how I came to love myself more than the empty comfort your body provided me with twice a week, at 3 in the morning, if I was lucky.
When I saw you for the first time I was floating. When I stared into your eyes, my cheeks burned. I had to look away. Your eyes were too beautiful for me to stare into. Something about your smile was too charming. And when you touched me, it felt like home. When you, even after long hard days at work made it back into my bedroom, I felt important. With all the other bedrooms you could be in, you chose mine. How considerate of you. How sweet of you to be so exhausted and still make time to listen to my praises for you at 4 in the morning. I was so lucky to have someone like you. There was so much beauty in our relationship. There was so much care, so much love, so much gratitude.
But winter came along and everything got colder. I stopped being sweet. I stopped waiting up for you. When I spoke, it was hard and empty. When I touched you, I didn’t care. When you laid in my bed, you took up way too much space. I was confused. Where did it all go?
It was all an illusion, David. It was all a big misunderstanding. Your eyes were not beautiful, David. I am beautiful–So beautiful that even the empty darkness in your eyes brightened when they stared at me. My smile is so charming that yours mimicked its radiance when in my presence. It was my skin. My touch. My everything that was beautiful, hopeful, considerate, and caring. It was me. It was all me. I was the love. I was the beauty I saw in your eyes. I was the home I felt when you touched me. It was me.
Thank God it was me, because when you left all I had was me. All that was left was me. And I loved it.
See you never,