Published on Thought Catalog as I’m Leaving You in the Past, Where You Should Have Been All Along on May 29, 2014.
I haven’t stopped writing about you. But I’ve stopped writing for you. You never read it anyway.
Whenever we would get in an argument, I would write down everything I had to say to you before meeting on my front stoop to ‘talk’ which usually meant ‘you breaking up with me.’
Because if I didn’t write it down — I would lose my words. I would forget everything I wanted to say. I just wanted to explain my side of everything and how I felt. I just wanted you to hear me. Understand me. Love me.
It all started the first time you asked me to be your girlfriend. And then you took it back. How was I ever supposed to be confident about how you felt about me? I thought you were out of my league. Too good for me. Someone that I would be lucky to be with.
I don’t remember the first time you broke up with me.
But I remember the second. And the third.
The second time I was on a train. Coincidentally heading to your hometown, where I was meeting my mom. I called her on the way and couldn’t even talk. I couldn’t even explain to her why I was so upset. It was such a foreign emotion to me that I wasn’t even sure how to handle it. I broke down. What I knew as rational thoughts were being overridden by true, uncontrollable emotion.
I took you back.
The next time I was heading to work. Again, upset on public transportation — good ol’ Philly SEPTA. Could the lowest time of my life be a homeless person asking if I was alright? Definitely not — but it felt like it at the time.
Luckily my boss saw that I was in no shape to handle any type of human interaction and my best friend was done with her shift. We both got out of there with sippy cups full of wine and a blunt without a lighter. We walked down the South Philly streets admiring Christmas lights, unaware of how cold it actually was.
I will never forget that night because, in a way, It was perfect. I might not have been okay, but I knew that I was going to be. I didn’t need you. I was never your priority. I was your convenience. And whenever I was inconvenient, you simply washed your hands of me. This time, I had an escape: a two week foreign correspondent course in Prague and then meeting my friends in Madrid for a week of mischief and amusement.
About a month later, we were back at school, and you got to me. Again, I took you back.
We had so many mutual friends it was impossible not to run into each other. We were all we had. And so of course I went back to you. Even though my friends warned me not to. Even though I knew that I shouldn’t. Even though my parents were hesitant. But you were persistent. But things were good again. But this was love. Or so I kept telling myself.
The fourth time we broke up was at a Hard Rock Cafe on the Atlantic City Boardwalk. I think I surprised you. But were you really that surprised? Maybe I caught you off guard by finally standing up for myself. By finally being a strong individual. By finally knowing what I wanted, and knowing that it wasn’t you. You had stopped being a boyfriend. You had stopped being a friend.
I felt empowered. I lived my summer the way a summer should be. I was a whole new person. I was myself. Not myself with you.
Still, I was disillusioned. I wanted to be friends. I still wanted you in my life. I tried to reconnect. To let you in. To show you that the time we spent together wasn’t a loss. But looking back, I just wanted you to think back fondly on the time we had. It was a selfish thing to do — I wanted you to tell the girls after me that I was brave and adventurous, the person that I am today. Not the girl who you knew; not that insecure and indecisive girl. I wanted you to know me as I am now. The real me. The woman that I grew to be. I wanted to affect you.
But you shot me down. More times than I can count — I reached out and you recoiled. And it’s what it took for me to finally wake up and realize that I was still living my life for you.
If it wasn’t for you, I wouldn’t be who I am today. I wouldn’t be half way across the country doing what I love. I wouldn’t have recognized my full potential and gone after what I want. I wouldn’t have the friends that I do: the ones who know me, love me and encourage me in everything I do. I wouldn’t be doing any of this because I would still be with you.
I tried to be everything for you. And afterwards you said you realized that. But that doesn’t matter to me now. That’s your hindsight kicking in. That’s you being lonely. That’s you grasping for straws that aren’t there anymore.
We haven’t talked in a long time. Until you texted me today. I deleted your number, but I knew exactly who it was. You said that you still think about me every day and that you miss me.
I’d be lying if I said that seeing your number pop up on my screen didn’t feel good. But I don’t miss you. I miss who I thought that you were and what I thought that we had. You no longer have a hold over me. Because you don’t know me. I don’t feel the need to live for you anymore, to impress you, to make you appreciate me. I have become my own person. And even though sometimes I don’t know who exactly that is, I know that it’s not for you to find out. You had your chance.
And if we were sitting on my stoop again, I hope you’d listen. I hope that you’d hear me when I say ‘Thank You’ and ‘Goodbye’ for the last time.