Incomplete jigsaw

To my friend of many years,

I’ve found myself in this position so many times, it’s laughable. I can hand this letter over to many people in my lifetime, and it would be relevant to them all.

You will never get this letter, or even have an opportunity to look through it. You see (you don’t, I know), I once made the mistake of taking the time to explain how I felt in person. I was grossly misunderstood, and deeply hurt the other person as well as myself. The incident broke my trust in the inherent good in people, and it hasn’t come back since.

I sound bitter. I am bitter. There’s a dark, sticky mass in my memories that I manage to keep down, but it rises to my throat from time to time, and leaves an acrid taste in the back of my mouth. At times like this, I can’t look at you and smile. I can’t pretend that your actions didn’t hurt me, nor can I pretend that the only reason they don’t hurt anymore is because I trained myself to not care.

I tried to not care. As far as I know, I’m still trying. I pretend that your absence hasn’t left a gaping hole in my heart, and sometimes I manage to convince myself. Times like this, when I’m not occupied or tired, is when I can’t pretend anymore. So here I am, writing a letter that I’ll never send.

You hurt me. I’ve hurt you, too. No matter what happened, I always tried to be there for you. But the day I needed you the most, you walked away, because helping me at my lowest was going to keep you away from the life you wanted to live. So you left, to have enjoy your life. And I was left alone, terrified, in the worst situation possible.

When you came back, I had to smile at you. I had to laugh, like nothing had gone wrong, because, the truth was, you were the only one that I had. You had others. At that time, I had only you.

Maybe that’s why I expected so much from you. I wanted you to be the one. For the longest time, I thought we were soul mates. We spent every moment together, we hung out together, we did everything together. We were so close that people thought we were siblings. I thought that’s how we were, too.

But you walking away changed it for me. Changed me, for me.

Eventually, we did talk about it. You turned it around, and made it seem like it was my fault for needing you, for being in situations where I was helpless, for expecting you to come running whenever I needed you. I needed to get over it. I shouldn’t have been so needy. I was the one at fault, and if our relationship went down the drain, it was my fault because I couldn’t get over it.

I couldn’t ever trust you again. I eventually forgave you. But I couldn’t trust you. Again, and again, you chose other things, other people in your life over helping me out. Every time you came back, I smiled like nothing had gone wrong.

I couldn’t get over it. I don’t think I ever did.

I used to think that forgiveness didn’t really depend on the other person – it was something that came from within oneself. It was a quality that one possessed, independent of another’s action. And I was right about that. Forgiveness is an act done by someone for their benefit.

I also came to realise, however, that forgiving someone who never apologised in the first place says a lot about the other person, too.

I couldn’t trust you again. I tried. I tried really hard to get myself to go back to how I was before. I still loved you and cared for you. I would still give you anything you asked for. But I couldn’t ask for the same.

I watched you grow closer to other people, as close as we had been. Partially, it was my fault – I was so scared of being hurt again that I couldn’t let you get close to me. I couldn’t let anyone get close to me, and I watched my forever people get further away from me, and closer to each other. The walls I put up circled them in, and kept me out.

Outwardly, though, we were fine. Everything was alright. I managed to be the ostrich with the paper bag on my head for long enough. For the record, I tried hard enough. I could probably dismantle the Great Wall in my lifetime, but I couldn’t get you to give me the time of day.

What hurt, eventually, is that you didn’t care enough, and that I cared too much.

You hurt me, but it didn’t matter to you anymore. I know how you are when something matters to you. What we share right now doesn’t. And if I’m going to be filled with insecurity whenever you go without talking to me for a while, this friendship isn’t going to last for a long time, either.

I’m probably in the wrong, too. It takes two hands to clap. And, for however I’ve wronged or hurt you, I’m really sorry.

At this point, though, I don’t have the energy to unravel this tangled thread, to see where it all started to go wrong. Even if I did, it isn’t an exercise I can do alone – you need to want to do it as much as I do. But if you caring about me isn’t something that I have any control over, then, really, how can I get you to care about our relationship?

At the end of the day, it is my fault, but not the way you think. I thought that by being as close as I was to you, I would be shielded against the qualities that I’d seen you showing others. I thought that I would never have to face the day when I would be at the receiving end of the traits I chose to ignore.

I saw the red flags even before I was ready to acknowledge them. Once I acknowledged them, I couldn’t accept them. And that was my fault.

I can’t say for sure that I’m a bit wiser. I’m a lot less trusting of people, and I’m probably going to take a lot longer to open up to people. I’m going to substitute conversations for written words, because I don’t have the emotional mind space to deal with drama of you not understanding me or caring about me.

If you still cared, or could understand, I wouldn’t have to be in a position to explain all this. The thread between us wouldn’t be tangled to the point where it would stand as an obstruction between us.

I’m glad you came into my life. We made some amazing memories, and I couldn’t find someone else like you even if I wanted to. You were there for me during my tough times, and we laughed together through the good ones, for however long they lasted. We had a great run, and I’m happy that it had been fun while it lasted. I haven’t forgotten the great times we have had. That’s probably why letting go of us is so unbelievably painful for me.

For as long as it had been, thank you for being my sibling by bond. I’m glad I was able to love you.

If this letter ever finds you, I hope it finds you in good health. I hope you got what you wanted in life, and I hope it makes you happy. But honestly?

I hope this letter never finds you at all.

The puzzle with the missing pieces.

Losing a romantic interest isn’t the only painful loss. Losing a friend can sometimes be more painful than losing a romantic partner. A friend is someone who you can truly be yourself with, and when that quality is lost within the relationship, it can be more painful than heartbreak.

As with everyone else in the world, I’ve gone into and outgrown many friendships. While all of them weren’t painful, there were ones I thought I saw lasting forever, but it wasn’t meant to be. People grow, and sometimes they grow apart. This letter is just one side of many stories – you can get lucky and hear the other side, or you won’t and it won’t matter.

To all of you who have been through this, or are currently going through this, hang in there. Give yourself time. And one day, it’ll eventually get better.

화이팅, and have a great week!

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