The Beauty in Breaking Up: Letters from Under the Skin

One woman pens her thoughts on a fresh heartbreak, kicking off our unifying series on letting go and breaking open. 

Currently I am watching a fresh layer of skin scab over, feeling the pain, the urge to itch, the urge to call, to understand, to be told I am loved even if I have evidence of otherwise, even though I know it’s a lie. 

This is my first soulmate shedding. 

This is the first time I have walked away from a man I wasn’t expecting to lose. But, you see, there was always something. There was always a fear when it came to him, a tiny bubble of air beneath my toes, cautioning me not to float away in love just yet...to wait. I smoothed my assurances over his anxiety like a thick, summer salve, I believed in him when he hated himself, I peddled him to everyone I knew, gently, subtly, just as a friend, though, always. 

I think deep down I knew he didn’t want me fully, not in the way he said he did. I could tell in the way he’d invite the silence that followed my never-before-spoken words of affection, when I told him I was thinking of him, missed him...proud of him. I could tell in the way he’d accept my falling - harder, and more trusting - for him...the way I transplanted a meaning onto each loving look he’d give, as a love for me fully, instead of just some parts. 

For four years, he’s been in my soul. He feels threaded, in a way, seeing me when I was weary, talking me through my hardest moments, offering his ear as a shoulder when too far away to comfort me. That’s the thing, though. He never offered his shoulder. He never came to pick me up from the airport, something I’d hear him do often for people I don’t think he ever wanted to build a life with. He never let me stay over, offering excuses for the other women he was seeing (just a distraction, just sex, he’d say), or the flimsy door in his apartment, or the demands of his schedule, all things I never accepted, but tolerated, hoping if I remained empathetic...if I simply remained, he would grow. He’d talk about his finances, peppering every conversation with his hurt, his sadness, his desire to feel loved. Well, I loved him. I loved him as nothing, as someone who had nothing to his name but was still everything I ever wanted. I really felt like I saw him, too. I think he may have even seen me.

I do not write this from a place of hate, though. I am grateful. Perhaps I loved him because he was the person who showed me how to love myself. Perhaps I will never forget him not because of what could have been, but because of what was - he was a catalyst for my own empowered return to self, my own coming of age, my own realizations. I met him hating myself: I leave him now, loving her. In blocking calls, texts, and visits from him, I did not lose a great love, I do not think. A great love would have accepted my own, for it was selfless, it was unconditional, it was steeped in belief and in art and respect. It is what I know he would have wanted, had he had the courage. In turning my eyes away from the sun, I do not rid myself of the glow but amplify my own; demanding something more profound - more honest - next time. For there will be a next time, friend. 

Perhaps I will never forget him not because of what could have been, but because of what was

I will love, and love, and love, until the universe and the clouds and the trees bend toward me. I will pour love over every interaction like syrup over pancakes, and I will not for a second miss what could have been, because it could not have been. Him, lips smiling upon those of someone I do not envy, has made his own choice, to settle, to seek proximity and not me. I do not think I will cross paths with him again in the mystical city where I plan to move next. I do not think he will join me on my level, unless I kneel down and help him up here.


Each Post in this series is written and published with total anonymity - because honestly, we've all been this person, navigating these incomplete, crazy, maddeningly beautiful experiences together. With love.