Most of us know that the term Dear John Letters refers to letters sent to soldiers who are away from home. But these aren’t just any letters; these are breakup letters sent from girlfriends who have decided to move on while their soldier is busy fighting not only for his life but for all of ours as well.
I love writing letters by hand as well as through the typewriter that I inherited. I’m not sure if it’s my understanding of the English language or the relaxation of writing that I love most.
Regardless, I use to write my boyfriend letters. After a conversation about the movie Dear John, I decided to start off each of my letters with “Dear John”. Now before you jump to conclusions, let me clarify that I wasn’t doing this to scare my guy. Instead I was doing it as a term of endearment because his name actually was John.
So what is the relation between this piece of my past and now? Well now I am ready to write another letter, one last Dear John. This time is different though; this time I am not writing of love, nor am I writing to break anyone’s heart. No, this time I am writing a final goodbye. Unlike the other letters, this one won’t be mailed, it won’t reach its intended reader, and it won’t be written or pressed into ink. This time, the last letter will nestle itself into the small space designated for it somewhere within the archives of my blog, my personal and yet very public confession journal.
Just over three years ago, you walked into my life. I guess you didn’t even walk in per say, more like typed your way in. Into my world, into my mind, into my heart. I told you then and I’ll tell you the same thing now; dating me is a mistake. A friendship that can be so easily shattered, emotions that are so extremely fragile; none of these things make for a good relationship. Unfortunately, I’m that girl. I told you this then, and I’m telling you now.
Look where we ended up. I’m sitting here on my couch in the North, you’re doing something near your home in the South. I hate to say we ended like the Civil War, because it was worse. Most people got over their animosities after The War, but our war was different. There was triumph and defeat, with no bartering or forgiving in between. Each side made mistakes, each side was searching for something they had never known before. For a while, we peacefully found that thing, that joy. And then it was gone…
The reason I’m even writing you this letter now is because I don’t know where to go from here. It’s not that you ruined me or that I want you back. Yet your friends and your family… they were mine too. Now that they’re still your’s, it seems awkward that they are also still mine. But I hope that’s what it is. It’s unfair of you to take everyone with you, everyone I loved and cared about. I’ve grown to be a part of your family whether you like it or not, and kicking me out of that circle is what hurts more than anything else.
Why don’t I love you, you say? Well, I do… I did. You hardened your heart against me and you told me lies. I promised you from the beginning there were only two ways to lose me, either by lies or through the shattering of my heart. Congratulations, you’ve done both. But before I say congratulations, I should also let you know that while you successfully fulfilled both of these “requirements”, you did forget some things that are even more important.
1) You hurt me, you shattered me, but you moved on and I held on. I know, it sounds immature of me to hold on to hope for so long after you decided that you loved some other girl. But now? Now I don’t regret anything that I did in this entire relationship. And you? You’ll regret it at some point. One day you will realize that you threw away your fiance for some girl who isn’t going to understand you or stick by your side nearly as easily or as well as I did. I may not be perfect, but I know you like no one else.
2) Guess what else you forgot? I’m not alone. You may think that by ruining our relationship and leaving me in the dust, you killed me and left me for the vultures, but you didn’t. You gave me life, you showed me the light, and you led me back to what was truly important. For weeks now I have been so wrapped up in trying to work things out, to work through this mess with you. And now that you cut ties with me, I have no more worries. No one can touch me the way you did, no one else can bring me that hurt. And the funny thing is, it didn’t hurt all that bad to begin with. Now I’m left in the peace and sunshine to enjoy my life with my family and friends, the true ones, the real ones.
3) Know why all of this didn’t really hurt? Because my brain is mature for my age, and immaturity is one of my biggest pet peeves. Recently I had this flashback to middle school, yet strangely enough, it wasn’t middle school after all. You were there, as were our jobs, my ability to drive, and the way that I took care of myself even when no one else was around. At the end of the day I realized that it wasn’t middle school at all; it was my life, now, with people in it who were mature enough to get along with me and with those who were not. While some of these people may not remain, the ones that do are the ones I can truly trust. Just because you threw yourself into the immature mix doesn’t mean that I’ll go on praying that you’ll take me back.
4) And just so we are clear, I am NEVER taking you back. You shatter me once, I learn a lesson. You shatter me twice? Not gonna happen! I’m stronger than that, smarter than that, and more independent than anyone in my life believes me to be. If you think I cannot live without you, try again. I’ve lost more people in my life than you may have ever known, and I’m still going strong.
Speaking of which, I am strong. I’m a woman and I don’t break easily. I cry when I feel sad, I cry when I feel angry. But one thing that I never do is give up on myself. I do the right thing, I see all situations through. But if, at the end of the day, the situations turns to mud, I let it wash away with the tide. I do not continue to rebuild until the mud is a tower, I do not rebuild until I am trapped inside. Every architect has an exit plan, but every smart architect has two.
I think the last thing that really needs to be said is that I still have all of your crap in my house. Actually, I quite like the things that you gave me. Your favorite shirt, your most comfy pajama pants… I like these things because they remind me of you. Let’s not get confused though; I don’t care for them anymore, and they won’t be found scattered around my place. If you ever want them back, they’ll be in a box in my basement. Why? Because I tried to talk to you about them, I tried to get your new address. All I wanted was to send them back to you. But before you would even hear me out, you sicked your new girl on me to let me know just how immature and dependent on others I am. (For the record, that tactic did not work. I laughed instead; not at her, but at her sad attempt to ruin me.)
I owe you nothing. If anything you owe me. But let’s just call it even alright? I promise to leave your things in a box in my basement until I forget who they belong to. You just need to promise me… nothing. I’ll keep your things out of the kindness of my heart. And if one day you decide to ask for them back, I’ll even pay to have them shipped to you. This act, while also kind by many means, is not due to my heart. No, the thing is, as soon as you get your crap back, the sooner I don’t need to ever think, feel, or talk of you again. So please, figure it out soon. Remember you forgot your shirt and call me. Remember how to be a man and ask for your things back so I don’t have some even better reason to burn them or donate them to people who actually deserve the things you once had.
Whatever happens, don’t forget one thing: I loved you then and I love you now. But let’s get one thing straight, I loved you then because you made me a stronger woman, you lifted me just an inch higher than I already was. Now… now I love what you did for me, not what you are doing or what you may at some point try to do. Now, all I love is your memory.
~The One That Got Away
For those of you girls who are struggling in a relationship or who have just been through a breakup, I hope you read this. I hope you see that no man can tear you down, no relationship is the end of your life. Remember that you are not alone, and no matter what, remember the things that I’ve highlighted in red. You are strong, you are amazing, you owe people nothing unless they first give to you; all you owe is your kindness to a stranger and your love to a true friend. Keep on keeping on girls; just don’t forget to cherish those memories!