Recently, I found a letter I had written to a boy I dated about five years ago. He had just broken up with me, and I had never been more devastated. I walked around my college campus in zombie-like state, with puffy, red, wet eyes for days. I couldn’t sleep. I couldn’t eat. I thought I had lost the love of my life and there was no coming back from the pain. I think the letter may have served as a cathartic means to get all of the bad feelings out, but man, is it a doozie.
The thing is I was essentially thanking him for breaking my heart. Not in a self-empowered, I’m-better-off way, but, like, thanking him for his time. Thanking him for stooping so low as to spend three months in a relationship with me. Thanking him for “loving me.” I talk about enclosed gifts that I don’t remember buying, but I’m pretty sure I also never sent them. In the past, I’ve had a habit of buying gifts for the guys who dump me. I’m not sure what I’ve meant by them. Maybe it was a reward, maybe it was a, “See, look how great I can be! You sure are missing out.” No matter what, the gift had a whispered undertone of, “I have low self-esteem.”
They were usually pretty nice gifts, though. Don’t tell my boyfriend.
It’s kind of funny because I remember the breakup itself and the post-breakup madness pretty well. I even vaguely remember writing the letter. But I don’t really remember anything about him.
I remember his name, what he looked like, a couple of the things we did together. I have one vivid memory of him drunkenly screaming at a picture of Kel Mitchell and then throwing up everywhere. And the dick pics. Oh, the dick pics. He had a real affinity for those. A calling. A passion. I was too young and inexperienced at the time to question it, though I remember not being particularly fond of them. To me, they all had the personality of a student athlete who is having trouble balancing his schoolwork, love life, and his sport. And when he really can’t handle the pressure, he has to yell, “Believe in yourself!” into the mirror over and over through his tears.
I do not remember what we talked about or what we had in common or why I liked him so much. As I squeegee all my brain folds, I cannot, for the life of me, recall an attractive quality about this individual, the great thing that separated him from all of the other ones who had dumped me. The letter does not mention anything like that either. It’s a thank-you note mixed with elegant pleading, embalmed in nonsense that I’m sure I thought sounded poetic at the time.
He broke up with me over the phone, while I was sitting in my car. He’d actually made the official breakup statement while I was on my way to the car, but I waited until I was comfortably seated inside to scream every profanity I knew. (The conversation actually ended with him saying, “You’re making me feel really bad. I’m going to have to hang up.”)
Here are the various reasons he gave to me as to why he wanted to end things: 1) He wanted to be able to fraternize with the fairer sex to his heart’s content while he was on vacation. Enjoy the herpes, buddy. 2) I was neither “spunky” nor “athletic” enough for his liking. I’m not sure what he meant by spunky but I have a feeling in his mind, it was a girl who enjoys unsolicited pictures of male genitalia. As for the athletic thing, well, we played tennis together once, so obviously this was extremely important. Oddly enough, this is not the first time a suitor has been surprised by my lack of athleticism. I don’t understand it, and if you saw what a struggle it is for me to walk three steps in a straight line without falling, you wouldn’t understand either. 3) I had gained weight.
And so on.
Essentially, I was given a laundry list of all the things about me that were unattractive. I guess it’s nice that he put so much thought into it. You can see why I missed him so much.
Then the words, “I just don’t think you’re good enough for me,” came out.
And I think that’s what did it, in the midst of all this ridiculousness. This one phrase. This phrase that ate away at my psyche. The phrase that put me in therapy. Because this pet rock of a human being thought I didn’t deserve love. And I believed it. That much was clear. The letter said that, the gifts said that. And that was the way I felt, for a very long time.
So, it is rather exhilarating to look back at this letter and laugh so hard, think, “Oh God, I said that? I thought that?” To shake my head at how stupid I was five years ago, as I attempt to reflect on why I thought this was a problem worthy of a second thought.
And it is perhaps even more exhilarating to write this letter…
Dear Boy Who I Thought Ruined My Life,
Who are you, again?