A final gesture of love. “Marie” is his ex-wife. Six months into our relationship, he moved cross continent. We ended our relationship six months after the move.
I realized today that the connection I’d actively created with you involves my helping you process present and past events. Given this understanding, it feels unkind, dishonorable, irresponsible, and premature to leave your life without properly responding to your feelings and thoughts from last night. I’m writing this letter in respect of the roles we had created, and my responsibility as that person.
You say you haven’t been able to feel better despite having moved closer to family and the people you love. I fear and feel this is because the transformation you seek is internal; changing external circumstances will not accomplish that feat. I hope you devote the emotional effort of looking closely within, into your thought, behavior, and speech patterns. I fear that your negativity and general ingratitude towards the little and big things are obstacles that challenge your ability to be happy, calm, loving, and emotionally present. I hope you start AA, or something similar, a framework for support and guidance that isn’t a romantic relationship or partner. I feel alcohol is one of your numbing agents. It allows you to evade the inner turmoil that demands tackling, healing, and release. Ultimately, the quality of our relationships, both interpersonal and intrapersonal, determines our quality of life. So I feel all the above are factors that have kept you from true fulfillment. Moving from one geographical state to another isn’t the same as truly moving, from one state to another. I think you’ll feel better only after doing the necessary, deep, difficult, and continual inner work. It’s the task we all have in common, simply in different manifestations.
For me, our relationship began on our first date when, while waiting for dessert, you reached over, took my hand and said “I would never do this on a first date, usually. I hope there is a second one. I hope I haven’t repulsed you.” My heart broke for you. Earlier, you had told me the story of Marie calling you “repulsive”, something that is incredibly cruel and untrue. I wasn’t going to accept a second date given our vast differences and the fact that you were clearly very focused on your ex-wife, and broken. But when you said that, I made myself a vow: I would sign up to be the person who’d show you that you were deserving and capable of being loved even though you didn’t think that was possible. I would give you love and remain by your side knowing full well that I would receive very little respect, affection, or attention in return. I would love you without conditions or expectations, for that was the only way. I would give you a year. I would do this because you deserved the gift and opportunity to heal and move beyond your present and past, because you are inherently good, decent, and highly intelligent. You were and are worth the work. What I would receive in return is the contentment that comes from helping someone with something that only I could give and do for the person. Arguably, that incentive is both loving as well as egotistical. We dance this fine line in the matters of love.
Something you and I spoke of often is the hard-to-swallow truth that so much in life, and especially in love, is uncontrollable. By extension, so many parts of a person and the relationship forged with them will remain ever mysterious. Unknowable spots that will remain blurry given the nature of life and being human. It is the highly intelligent and the young who believe ardently that we can understand, and thereby determine or control or know, anything and everything we wish to. For the highly intelligent, it is a necessary and humbling step to realize and accept that not all are within our minds’ grasp. As for the young, life will teach them the same truth. The journey is sweetly ironic: The older we grow, the more we learn. The more we learn, the more we realize we know so little. The more we learn, the more clear it becomes that learning is an ever unfurling path.
Give yourself time. You deserve it.
One of the things that pains me most is that nowadays, you show such interest in my life and my work, when for the most part of our relationship and synergy, I was invisible. I was the other woman, and Marie and you were the ones in focus. I loathe that you ask me so often about my book when in the past, I begged you for nine months to read something from it, and you couldn’t and wouldn’t make the time because you preferred to focus on yourself, your move, your job search, your ex, your pastimes and your addictions. It’s like lavishing affection on a teenager after refusing to embrace her as a child. Contraband love, sullied gifts, the kind which accepting means one’s auctioned oneself to the dark.
I cannot be your Reema anymore. Meaning that I cannot and will not give, and give, and give to you anymore. You have nothing to give me in return, and my past reasons for giving you love, time, support, counsel and friendship are no longer valid. A hard lesson I’ve learned is that in all my relationships, my role as a daughter, sister, friend, girlfriend, wife, ex-girlfriend, ex-wife involves that I counsel. This is my approach to intimacy. At times it is also how I avoid it. My calling and my crucifix. Invariably, unless I’m careful, I grow depleted and resentful from the constant outpour of words, thought, synthesis, and love I devote to my beloveds. That is on me, a tightrope I choose to string, a balancing act I’m still navigating. My doing and my responsibility — no expectations, yet I try, yet I beg. Such an agreement, and its results, are ultimately unfair on both the beloved and myself. In terms of you and I, we know only an unbalanced synergy. I feel it would be deeply unhealthy for both of us to continue this. You need to take care of yourself — you deserve to become self-healing, self-sustaining, and self-empowering. There is so much to you that is remarkable, extraordinary, and good — hence my commitment to you. This is my final offering of love. If you read this letter, I hope you can receive it as such.
Please seek help. You are worth the work. You are worth the commitment. You are worth the love you need now to give yourself.