This was written initially a long time ago, and revised recently as a personal essay for a creative writing class. The feelings portrayed here are long resolved, and I love the person who this was written to dearly. She is one of my best friends, and I am so proud to have her in my life.
my dearest, my love, i’ve missed you.
recently, we spent some time together, and it was really nice to see you out and having fun. being you. it has been ages since i have glimpsed you being you; maybe i never had until now. i’m so happy for you.
even as i write this, i’m trying not to. procrastination is a fine art when you do not even realize you are not doing what you set out to. i stop, check if there are updates for my laptop, or look at social media. i get up and see if the food i have in the oven is okay. i shuffle the contents of my kitchen counter around, rearranging things that are perfectly tidy. i wander through the living room to the windows. i take a photo of the beautiful colours the stormy sky is creating outside. the storm is timely because i have a cyclone in my head that would be better out there in the clouds, wrecking havoc on landscape. or on my computer screen, one letter following the next. all of these little activities are avoidance tactics. i have been burying this letter; it has been clawing its way to the surface for a while.
i’m still mad at you. and then immediately at myself. those two feelings chase each other around in my head endlessly, a cat chasing its tail.
we were together for just shy of three years. you lied to me, to everyone, to yourself, for that time, and the years preceding. for your life. i don’t blame you for hiding. i don’t have even the slightest beginning of a thought of what that must have been like. i know only what you have shared with me; that the stress, the depression, the hurt and the fear that almost killed you. because of that, i can’t blame you.
i thought i was going to marry you. i wanted to have children with you.
we talked about it, planned a future. it would all be perfect, we discussed it over the phone when we were apart, mostly. maybe it was easier to lie when you weren’t looking me in the eyes. we would talk late into the night, and i would ask you where you thought we would live, what colour would the sheets be. could we have a pet? as time passed, and things felt stranger, i would ask for more details with more urgency. i wanted you to tell me what we were fantasizing would manifest. i wanted to know whether you thought we could live with your cousin, as you did then, or if we would live separately. would we have an apartment where you and he would keep your office? what colour would the walls be? we should make sure we have laminate or hardwood if we are going to get a pet. i would get my driver’s license so we could live in the city you preferred, of course. i get it; that suburb is quite pretty with all its newly landscaped parks and clean, sterile streets. we thought we would name our first daughter odessa. that was your suggestion. i loved it. should we keep my bookshelves or build something into the living room? i hope we can find something with a yard. dogs and children alike really need green space, you thought. i agreed.
we agreed about so many things.
the first time we fell away from each other it was because you had a row with one of my dearest friends on her anniversary party at a cabin outside of town. she didn’t like you, but i didn’t care. you didn’t like her, and i cared a lot. i remember you driving away from the cabin in a flurry of curse words and flinging gravel. i stood on the porch and watched you drive off after hearing you and her yelling at each other. the tears streamed then, but in two weeks i was back in your bed and your arms because we loved each other and surely that was enough. you hadn’t meant to get so upset, you promised. you would never leave me again, i was too good and kind for being so patient.
the second time came from nowhere, or from my insistence that something wasn’t right, maybe. i wonder about that, if i had asked less questions, just allowed you to be as you were, if it wouldn’t have ended that time. but i asked a lot of questions, and couldn’t just let you be as you were. i was gentle, but insistently so. when can we move in together? why can’t we talk about it? why won’t you tell me why not? why? over the phone, of all things; this was when people still usually broke up in person. you didn’t know what you wanted, so surely we must part ways. surely we weren’t meant to be if you didn’t know for sure. it was weeks before we saw each other, and my tears free-flowed like rivers. as soon as you knew i had been with someone else, you said you never wanted that again. you had also tried someone on, and it had felt wrong, you said. we tried again. i let myself love you again.
i bent and morphed and chameleoned into this person that was ideal for what i thought you wanted. when we met, i left friendships behind you deemed unhealthy for me. my best friend would come into town and i would not see him because you thought he was problematic. there was this one time, the only time you met him, and he behaved as aloof and cavalier as he does a lot of the time. he jumped out of the car at a busy intersection, saying he was going to a punk club. you thought him irresponsible and unreliable. i abided. i stopped seeing him when he came to town, made excuses, flimsy ones like i couldn’t make it or that i was too busy. when you and i disagreed, it ate me up inside; whatever it took to minimize any conflict. my proverbial walking space became littered with sharp, breakable things that i gingerly tip toed my way through in an attempt to appease you. i made changes. i drank less, smoked less, tried to fit in with what you deemed to be a healthier lifestyle. i stopped seeing my friends as much as i wanted because you weren’t keen on social situations more than once a month or so. i stayed in with you whenever you wanted. i saw you whenever you wanted. i would have done anything for you, if you had asked or even shown a sign of a need i could serve. this is how i am with those i love; i will build spacecraft and slay dragons. this subservience was one-sided; this is where the self-loathing comes in. i could have seen it coming, i could have held back. that’s a lie; i could never have.
the sex stopped sometime after about a year and a half.
well, stopped is harsh. it creeped to a slow crawl of an average of about once every month or so, at best. this was if i was lucky. i would wrestle with my feelings and my desires, not knowing if it was because of me; feeling inadequate, lost, isolated within my mind. i remembered lying next to you while you slept, staring into the darkness at the curve of your nose, your slightly pointed ear, wondering if i could see into your mind if i looked long enough while you were sleeping. maybe if you were sleeping, the vault that was your consciousness wouldn’t be as impenetrable.
every time it would happen, i would feel a tidal wave of validation. maybe you still love me. maybe because you wanted to fuck me, you still love me. you would go to the washroom and i would curl into a ball on my duvet and pillows in the dark, and cry my eyes out with relief. i have always hidden in sex, used it as a mechanism for affirmation: a way to feel close and safe. i felt the gap between us grow with it missing from our time together. i felt helpless, a passenger.
you told me, hesitantly, that you liked wearing women’s clothing. you asked me to google about cross-dressing fetishes and tell you if i thought it was weird. of course you’re not weird, love, whatever you like is okay. You asked me if i would mind buying you lacy thongs to wear under your jeans. of course, i would go shopping today.
i thought this would solve the intimacy gap that seemed to be growing.
as the disconnected feeling escalated, i would ask you why we never really talked about living together, the future, what our life together would look like anymore. whenever i brought it up, i was met with rejection and dismissal. i was told i overreacted and over thought. i felt crazy. you reinforced that by telling me i was being crazy, and to check the calendar for my period, as if i had ever had a mood swing in my life. my perception was that if these things were not discussed, they would never come to pass; i engaged you hopefully, and retreated from your criticisms with my fears amassing.
we laid in the dark that one night, and you told me that when i had called you after work, you weren’t just getting into your car to drive to my house, as you had said. you were at my house already, in the underground parking.
you were on the phone with a crisis line, crying and begging for help.
you wanted to die. instead of getting off the phone and acting in self destruction, i called and you told me you would be at my house in a half hour. from my underground parking garage. you said it and sat there, deciding whether or not to tell me.
we laid next to each other in the dark, parallel and staring at the ceiling as if the answers were there. our fingers were intertwined and i turned to look at you just as the words came, when you said “i think i’m a girl” and dissolved into tears i never knew you were capable of having. i think i had only ever seen them standing in your eyes, when you told me you loved me the first time, and maybe once when we had decided to keep going together the second time. third time is the charm, they say.
you told me of your prison within your own skin. i cried with you, once the words settled into my realm of understanding. i told you i would support you no matter what. i love you. i bit my tongue, tasting copper, as my entire universe, the past, present, and future, disintegrated when you said “i think i’m a girl”. every feeling i had, every worry, an illusion. none of it was real. three years of my life was built on lies. the house and the kids and the life we would have together shattered and became what it was: nothing.
you asked me to tell no one, i agreed. you said you wanted to tell your family before i could speak to anyone. i called a counsellor the next day; it was that or institutionalization.
you were the last monogamous relationship i was ever going to have.
we went back and forth through the turbulence of my ousting monogamy from my life,; you did not approve, nor would you tolerate it. i stated clearly that you no longer had a say in what i chose for myself; i was going to take some time to heal, i was going to take care of myself, and i was not going to adhere to monogamy anymore. when you said you wanted me still, despite the challenge, i thought you meant it. i thought you meant you wanted us both to be happy together. you said you would transition, and then no, and then yes. and then there was one phone call while i was in transit one morning that did me in.
this was happening to me too.
i walked swiftly through a train station that led me to work, weaving through jackets and briefcases and shoulder bags of commuters, staring at nothing but never bumping into anyone.
my heels clicked on the pavement as my lips pursed and my eyes glazed over, still not touching another person because if i did i might be a person, like the jackets around me, in that moment of dehumanized, robotic listening to words that cut me. you said you weren’t going to let me go, i stopped in my tracks. i would be your wife, you said, and we would have children, and then you would transition, you said. i realized you didn’t know. you didn’t know what i was going through, and you didn’t know what that life would be like for me. i would be a single mother in no time, and you were okay with that trajectory for me. i knew what you were struggling with was worse, but i was still struggling too and you didn’t know.
i would not be with someone who didn’t know what they were doing to me.
we didn’t speak for months.
when words did start to be exchanged, the odd text here and there or an email, a check in,
it was infrequent and timid. more months passed.
i spread wings from the ashes that were my destroyed projections and i have flown into a whirlwind life where i am myself; i am growing again. i learn every day some thing that will better help me be myself. my self-awareness has been honed into a utility with years of counselling and friends who get me and support me. i have fallen in love and out and in and out. and in. i am calm. my tendency to love unabashedly and deliberately has stayed present within me. it wasn’t destroyed by this great turning point. i’m thankful for that.
i had this idea that it is healthy to get over things. i have had so many things i have tried so hard to get past and let go, but i am starting to think it is more about understanding them. the things we have been through are the dents in our armour that makes it unique and ours. they make us who we are. i wouldn’t be the person i am right now, right this moment, if it weren’t for this, or for you, and so many other varying experiences that have shook my being, ruined me, violated me, have had me twisting and turning in the air trying so desperately to just land on my feet. i always land on my feet. if the things i have been through had not been, i wouldn’t have this specific capacity to love; i wouldn’t have my patience, my sensitivity, my strength. i like who i am. even when i’m mad at myself because i’m mad at you, i’m still happy it all happened. without it i might be different.
this is starting to sound like letting go. or carving out a little place for my hurt to rest and be quietly a part of me. a dent in my armour.
so if I’m a bit distant when we are together, i will come around eventually. or i won’t. i may need breaks. i may go radio silent at times, but i’ll come back eventually. i know you didn’t mean to hurt me. i hope it isn’t taken personally although it is personal to me. i love you.
i’m not sorry.