On letting go: an open letter to my childhood best friend.

This is not a letter I want to write.

This is definitely not a letter that I want to publish.

However, since I’ve committed to sharing my story since receiving my diagnosis, I’d feel wrong keeping this key element hidden. Who knows how long this will stay public, but I at least have to know that I tried.

The emotions and memories that arise within me as I spell out these words are things that I do not want to experience, now or ever.

But I have to get it out, for my sake, and for the sake of everyone who deserves my love and undying trust. I have to release this. I have to let go.

You told me once that I was a chapter of your life that you did not want to go back to- words that cut so deep into me that I will never, ever forget them. The unfortunate thing is, you are a chapter of my life that I simply can’t seem to move on from.

Even after so many years, after so many other things that objectively may seem much worse than this have happened to me, this piece of my past is the one thing that I still run from. That I still hate to face. That I still bury down in my most distant depths, far beyond any light or hope of reconciliation.

Maybe this seems too melodramatic. After all, you were not my lover. Not my abuser. Not anyone who should have had the power to hurt me this way. But that’s the trouble, isn’t it? If I truly blamed you, it wouldn’t hurt so bad. But I never have, and I never will. Nor should I. No, I blame myself. And that is something that is impossible to separate from.

Friendships are often fleeting. Some endure, but many fade and reach a natural end, so why can’t I let go?

The fact is, for the first ten years of my meaningful life, you were everything to me. You were the one who I grew up beside, the one who I admired above all else. You were the one who I laughed with, cried with, played with, fought with, grew with, and changed with. The one I adored, the one I held on a pedestal so far above everyone else that no one could even hope to come close.

I defined myself through my attachment to you. You were my other half. My stronger half. My better half. The one who inspired me and ignited me.

But above all that, you were my security. You were my constant. Through change, through death, through broken families, through distance, through time, it was always you and me. I depended on that. I cherished that. I clung to the fact that even if everyone else left me, even if everything else around me went up in flames, that you would always be there. That knowledge got me through things that should have rendered me despondent, and I held onto that safety so hard that I was completely blindsided when I finally learned that I was wrong.

I’ve spent over ten years now going over and over what happened, replaying it all in my mind from start to finish in a countless loop. Ten years wallowing in guilt and anger, sadness and despair. Ten years without seeing you, wishing that I could stop caring, just the way you have. Ten years hating myself for what I did.

But I have to let go now.

I have to forgive myself for what I know you saw as my betrayal. I have to forgive myself for the terror I felt and the way I let it take over me. I have to forgive myself for not being strong enough to face you with honesty before it was too late. I have to forgive myself for losing you, and for convincing myself that I am unworthy of anyone else each and every day since.

I just get so caught up in what could have been, what should have been. I get so lost when I wonder why, after everything we had been through, we weren’t strong enough to get past what happened. I torment myself wondering why you couldn’t just see that I never meant to hurt you, and that I was just a terrified young girl put in a position beyond her control or understanding. But how could you possibly see that? How could I ever have expected that of you? And what did I do to deserve that understanding in the first place? Probably nothing. And yet I think about it all the time anyways.

I’ve always told myself that one day things would change…that one day we would reunite and laugh off the foolishness of our past. I still dream about it far more often than I care to admit. But I need to release that dream. I need to relinquish that hope. Because the pain of it has tainted me and darkened me in ways that have caused me to never trust anyone again in the way I trusted you, and I can’t live like that. Not anymore.

I see glimpses of your life in what you choose to share with the world. I smile about your success, knowing that you have turned out to be everything I thought you’d be and so much more. So beautiful, so creative, so successful, so happy. It warms me, and I’m so grateful to witness it, even from a distance.

But it is always accompanied by the ache of missing you. The ache of wishing that I could wake up to a text from you, or jump on a plane to come see you, or look over at you standing beside me at my wedding the way I always imagined you would.

Maybe somewhere in this vast and growing universe, things did turn out that way for us. What I would give for a day in that life.

You’ll probably never read these words, and if you do, they probably won’t matter. But that’s not why I’m writing them. I’m writing them so that I can finally, for first time, get the words out. I have avoided this for a decade because, to me, to write something is to make it real, and I could not face this reality. But the time is long overdue to begin the healing process.

I hope that one day, I can see your name, or look at old photos of us, or think of our memories together without having to bite my tongue and swallow back tears. I hope that one day, the guilt will finally leave me, and I can at last know what it feels like to know peace. I hope that one day, I let myself trust another as steadfastly as I trusted you, and once again know what it’s like to have certainty that I am unconditionally loved. I hope you can forgive me for writing these words, if ever you see them. I hope you know that my anger has always only been towards myself. And most of all, I hope that you continue to follow your trajectory to becoming one of the most amazing, innovative, inspirational dreamgirls that this world has ever seen, and that one day, maybe you too can look back on a memory you shared with me and smile.

Wherever you are out there, know this- for whatever it’s worth, I am still here, and I always will be. Should a time ever come when you need someone, I will be here with my arms ever open. I wish you nothing but the best. Now and always.

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