For the brokenhearted, the healing and the healed.
This letter is for you, too.
I have been trying to figure out how to write this letter for over a year.
You gave me a handmade camel-hide leather-bound journal from Iraq with the inscription on the first page, ‘Angela, a place for all of the secrets too heavy for a heart.’
That journal is full of secrets so heavy I can’t even pick it up sometimes.
It is full of poetry. Poems about how much I miss you, how much I loved you, how much I hate you, how much I only want you to be happy even if it isn’t with me.
Sometimes I think about setting the whole thing on fire the way you burned our love to ashes like a house fire that leaves only the foundation.
Our Love Story always felt predestined. Something we could pass down to our children and grandchildren. Dating each other at 14, going to senior prom together, reconnecting after you had a baby and my steadfast support while you were deployed to a war-torn desert.
Our first kiss was on a charter bus to the ‘Can You Feel the Love Tonight’ scene during the Lion King on our way to an 8th-grade school field trip. Our first date was as two 14-year-olds watching ‘The Notebook’ in your mom’s attic. We spoke to each other as two 26-year-olds every day that you were deployed and we exchanged countless letters.
But there wasn’t a happy ending.
I recently discovered you are married to someone else less than a year after you broke up with me out of the blue.
You know October has always been my favorite month so it stung to see that after ruining my birthday last year and breaking up with me you’d wed someone else so soon on a crisp October weekend surrounded by people I thought would be my family.
Beautiful characters in Our Love Story.
Now they belong to someone else’s.
Thinking about it makes my heart ache for what I lost, what you stole from me. Our life I had pictured swept out from under me like a rug.
For Christmas when you were deployed I mailed you a book across the world I had made of all of our letters and called it ‘Our Notebook.’
As we spent years together we kept adding to ‘Our Notebook.’ Pictures from the 14 years of our knowing one another, ticket stubs from the movies and ballets and concerts we attended. All of our moments with your son. It became a living notebook commemorating our love; commemorating the life and family we were building.
‘Our Notebook’ became a physical manifestation of the love story we were writing together.
I suppose it’s only fitting that you unceremoniously threw it in a trash bag with the belongings I left behind from our home together. That you gave it to me in our awkward post-breakup-item exchange, like it was nothing.
There are so many objects that can become physical representations of heartbreak and the past.
Objects that can tell a love story simply by existing.
I have a friend whose ex ended an engagement to him abruptly and gave him back her ring. He tried to resell it but the resale value on engagement rings is laughable.
So the ring sits in the glove box of his car, riding on the passenger side like a copilot from the past. He sometimes leaves his car unlocked in the hopes that some vagabond will break in and steal it and it will be off of his hands. A ring unworn and representative of a future that will never be.
Another love story without a happy ending.
Maybe it’s a hoodie. An old perfume bottle. A song that comes on the radio that hurts so much someone has to pull the car over to regain their composure because they are crying too hard to see.
Everyone has something, remnants of what might have been.
I’m sure there are things you have that remind you of me. That remind you of Our Love Story.
Our orange tabby cat Clem you adopted for me as a birthday gift who you kept after the breakup. That abstract painting I bought for our home probably hangs in your living room now. The playlist I made that we listened to as the three of us danced around the kitchen on Sunday mornings making pancakes.
I went through a break-up once before to a man I thought I’d love my whole life and I was okay. I was sad but okay. The ending of that love story wasn’t nearly as devastating to me. What makes this break-up so different is your son.
We loved each other. We’d cuddle and read together and play games. We would go through school books I bought and I’d teach him shapes, letters, colors. Our ‘Family Movie Nights’ I came up with were a bimonthly household event he loved to talk about and look forward to. I was his Angela.
Those moments are my favorite, because we were a family. Not all families are meant to last forever, that doesn’t mean they didn’t matter.
You reached out a few months ago to tell me you now have the family you always wanted. That our cat is doing great and bullies your wife’s dogs.
I wish you hadn’t.
Because I don’t have the family I always wanted. Not yet at least.
You have a new love story and all I have is this journal I want to set on fire and ‘Our Notebook’ hiding under my bed taunting me with an unhappy ending I can’t fit inside its once-happy pages.
I am trying to appreciate our love story for what it was– even if the ending wasn’t a happy one. We all have some relationships and love stories in our lives for a particular season. Not everything is meant to last forever.
Whatever reasons you had to end the relationship, end our story, even if I don’t understand them, it was what was best for you.
We sometimes have to hurt the people we love to do what’s best for ourselves.
I’ve always been wild and independent and hard to pin down. I’ll drop everything and quit my job and move to a new place on a whim because I can. You can’t. You are legally bound to the mother of your son and you are legally bound to your wife. You now have three children. You always wanted to put down roots and I’ve always been a free spirit.
Thinking about the juxtaposition of our very different personalities and outlooks on life I wonder if, even if you hadn’t ended the relationship when you did, Our Love Story still ultimately wouldn’t have had a happy ending.
Maybe you saw that plot point coming from a mile away and wrote our abrupt ending so you could find someone more compatible. Someone who you were confident you could write a better love story with.
I am writing a new story now, too. One of which I am the fearless heroine taking on the world by herself. There is no Romeo in this story, but Juliet is kicking total ass on her own.
I am not exactly sure what the ending will be.
But I know it’s going to be a happy one.
I am the author of my own story, I always have been.
Our Love Story was a section of My Life Story but its ending was a new beginning for me.
So thank you for giving me a new chapter to write, new characters to meet, a new direction in life.
I genuinely wish you a happy ending to Your Love Story.