December 27, 2017


Dear ex:
The holidays are hard for me, at least when it comes to Facebook memories. A lot of our interactions come up at this time, because this was the time of year that we decided to get together. I still remember the cold walk down to the community swimming pool and back where we set out an exhaustive list of ground rules.
No kissing till engaged.
No holding hands till engaged.
Why were we teenagers talking about engagement?

I think I was the first one to say those three words. I didn't want you to see them so I used a different language. I thought you had logged off, but you hadn't. What was I really saying? What did I really mean? I definitely didn't understand what those words meant, and I hadn't really experienced a lot of it in my own life. Everyone told me to give you a shot, everyone saw that you were head over heels for me. I decided that you had been a good friend for a while now, and I wanted to see what romance was like.

In hindsight, if I was taking things back I would start there. I would say something like: "you're a great friend, and I know you want a relationship with me. But I really am not in a good place yet."
Or, "I'm a 20 year old with the capacity for relationships of someone 10 years my junior. If you want to take a chance, I might break your heart."
Not that the warning would have made it any better, but it might help with the 'I told you so's.

Sometimes I want to ask you how you are doing, and how you feel. But I know that going there will just open wounds then I placed. It would be completely inappropriate, and downright evil.
I wish I could say that everything worked out, that somehow it would assuage my guilt.

But what am I guilty of?
Being young?
Being inexperienced in attraction?
Having just left a cult?
Not knowing what it meant to be turned on?
Never having had an intense physical connection to another person?
All of these things you knew, going in you already where aware of everything. Despite our age, you were the more mature worldly one.
While I was stumbling around in a dark foreign world, searching for my place and my role, you were getting an education. You were in the workplace. You knew where you were going and what you wanted out of life.

I don't know if you felt that way about me. I don't know if you know what that feels like yet, either.
I remember feeling stagnant in our relationship and asking for more. I remember propositioning you, and you being so afraid that you turned me down.
I remember how bad our first kiss was, and how the vodka only kind of helped. I remember wishing there was more, but not knowing what more was or how it felt.
I guess someone with more relationship experience would have had the words to describe this. Or maybe not? Has anyone else experienced this?
What is it when you feel a red flag but don't know what a red flag is. When you feel a distance, but don't have the ability to describe it.

I'm not saying I felt nothing. There were butterflies, there was an emotional connection, and a mental connection. You are my best friend in the whole world. You cared about me and you spent time showing that and it meant everything. I wanted to repay you, but I didn't know how. You didn't seem to want to move forward physically, and I didn't have anything else to give. I felt like a taker and I hated that.
But other things had begun changing as well. I didn't want to move back there. I wanted to go to college and get an education. I decided that I didn't want to have kids, especially not right away. I wanted a career, and I wanted to be making money and be independent.
Getting engaged to you would have meant an end to all of that. Maybe you didn't think so, but at that point in time I didn't know how to be in a relationship and be independent. And I don't think you did either. It was too close to move up there, I was beginning to like it down south.

I was finally feeling my sea legs, I was making friends. I felt like it was a place I could call home, but while you and your family had unconditionally welcome to me to yours, it wasn't the same.

I wish I had the words to explain all this back then. I wish I had known what was going on, before I found myself desperate and vulnerable.
Before I could put into words how much I dreaded you semi-proposing every other phone call, I allowed myself to run in the opposite direction.
It happened quickly... in a month, to be honest.
I wasn't honest with you, and I hurt you in more ways than one.
I wish I could have been more open when rebuffing your proposals. I wish I could have voiced how uncomfortable the idea of moving up there to be with you made me. Not because of you, but because of all the baggage.
I wish I could have voiced how it alienated me when your relatives were trying to convert me and you didn't want to leave even when I was begging you to.
I wish I could have said how little romance there was, and how your insistence on purity left me frustrated and confused.
When I would talk on the phone about breaking up, asking you how you would handle it, I guess I was trying my hardest to let you know how it wasn't working. And when you answered that you would lose it, I felt even more upset.
Yeah, we were saving ourselves, but I didn't feel like you wanted me as much.

I guess I went this way again because it feels like a picture got ripped in half. I want closure, if you would care to give it to me.
I want to know that you understand what brought about everything that happened.
I want you to know I am sorry, that I still go over 2012 in my mind, month by month and week by week.
I want you to know that I wish I had been able to express this.
I want you to know.
If knowing ever helped, I hope it does.

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