A letter of how to say sorry to someone you’ll never see again
There’s a lot that I want to say, but I just don’t know how to put them into comprehensible words. So even though I’m not very good at telling people, in person, how I feel, or what I want, or what I am thinking, I am going to try, and attempt, to tackle all of those three things using these written words.
I am terribly shy, but you probably already knew that about me. So shy, in fact, that it was written by the stars into my DNA before I was even born. God made me tiny and fat with love and naivety, but armed with military-like curiosity, for the world.
Home life was a wreck growing up. Mum and Dad were either always ferociously fighting, or working, and my siblings never home. And for a while the thick fog of loneliness felt like a black hole sucking me in until I jettisoned myself out with made up, fantastical, and wild, stories from my fertile imagination as fuel. But it didn’t cure the parasite that was slowly eating away at my self-esteem.
She was born out of the suppression of my precocious, child like, inner demon that begged for me to let her come out and play. It happened every time I overheard my mum crying, when dad would scream at my mum to shut up, or when he would leave after a fight and gamble all his money away at the casino. She was so scared, soo, soo scared. So I made her a promise that I’d protect her, always. I lead her into a room, and when she wasn’t looking, I locked the door and threw away the key, forever.
When I wasn’t at home I tried desperately hard making friends at school, to no avail. My first best friend that I ever made, that I was close to, and was soo excited about, left me because she had to go to another school. It hurt a lot because I felt like for the first time that there was something stable in my life outside of home: somebody that I could just be a kid around, talk to, and be weird with. I didn’t mean to put all my eggs into one basket with people, but I didn’t know that expectations could hurt so bad when it lets you down. So when it happened again, then again, and then again, I just gave up and stopped caring because it didn’t hurt as much that way.
Consequently, friends I made thereafter were friends for the novelty of being called friends which resulted in many scratch the surface, superficial, abusive, and failed friendships, relationships, acquaintance-ships, and situationships. Some were really pretty, but hollow, others were meaningful, but a disappointment, and a few were promising but then a let down. For example, I chose to stay friends with this girl who bullied me, relentlessly, all throughout high school because it was better having a friend that was a bully then not having any friend at all. Because despite how badly dad treated mum, she still stayed. But of all the disappointing, and saddest, moments collected and stored in my memory was none more prominent than you.
You were unexpected, alien, and otherworldly. I had met you serendipitously when I chose coincidence over Netflix instead. Standing there really weirdly at the end of the night, half wanting to stay but not yet really wanting to go, you stole a line out of my book,
“Yea, we should catch up.” And I replied as if I was tone deaf with no conviction like I was ordering fries at McDonald’s with a, “Yeeeeaaaaaaa, we totally should!”
Albeit over enthusiastically, but I didn’t mean it. And I thought you didn’t either, which was why I walked around at work the next day with the biggest question mark on the top of head when you slid into my DMs: and was even dumbfounded when you asked me out. We were just friends, I kept telling myself, we were just friends right up until you ruined it and made it real. But you were different from the rest, you felt safe, so I let you in. I remember you telling me that you felt like you knew me, but I bet that you didn’t know this part.
I’m not a very good friend, and worse, I’m not a very good person, either. I ignore, and run away, from problems, people, feelings, and confrontation, and substitute the anxiety, and guilt, that I feel in the moment by letting my insecurities make decisions for me. For example, instead of telling people how I really feel I’ll talk myself out of it by lying to myself that I’ll tell them the next day. But then tomorrow never comes because I’ll repeat the same lie over, and over, again until soo much time has passed that the problem has now become my past. And that I am sure you would hate me because of it. But what experience has taught me to the countless people that I have hurt, and let down, is that no matter how far, or fast, I run, that my problems will always follow me, wherever I go.
For a while I convincingly lied to myself that this was a problem that I could turn on and off, whenever I wanted to, like a control switch. That the grave that I kept on digging for myself each time wasn’t actually getting deeper, or bigger. And then you happened, messed me up, and made me see how much of a huge disappointment that I really was. And this is why.
When I suddenly dropped off the face of the earth, many moons ago, and ceased all contact, it was because I was afraid of rejection. That I lied when I said that I wasn’t afraid and lived moment to moment, because you were my moment in that moment, temporarily. I just couldn’t say how I felt. So I thought that if I just pretended that you didn’t exist, then that meant that whatever it was that was happening between us wasn’t real (therefore, you could never hurt me). And it worked, for a while, until the consequences of my actions caught up with me.
Thoughts strangled me in my waking and sleeping life, in my dreams, at work, and even when I’m not supposed to be thinking. You were always there, like a ghost, wherever I went, and no matter what I was doing, or who I was doing it with. And worse, I added fuel to my fire by rationalising with my tortured mind that my horrendous actions were justified by repeating to myself that you weren’t real, that you never existed, and that I never met you. And I cemented these poisonous affirmations, in the most cowardly, Joel Barish-way possible, by deleting every online space I occupied, ignoring all communications with you, ditching plans last minute to avoid you, and going as far as pretending to not know who you were when we crossed paths, which I’m not very proud of. Consequently, my self destructive mentality caused a lot of guilt, turned regret, which I swept under the rug by occupying my time with work, travel, and sex. I am very ashamed to admit that my warped sense of reality dawned on me, eventually, when I came face to face with my own mortality.
A few months ago, I collapsed and hit my head soo hard on the concrete floor that I knocked myself unconscious, and bloody, until I woke up, came to, and realised that I was lying on a hospital bed. I was naked, I was cold, my hair was soaked in blood, and my head the size of a football field, but, when I finally consciously came to, all that I could think about in that moment was you. You were the culmination and representation of all the people that I gave up on, ran away from, and let go of from my past wrapped up in regret. And in that moment all that I knew that was true, was that if I had of died, the biggest regret in my life was not saying sorry to you.
Honesty, and kindness, should be traded as valuable currency in any human transaction. And I am thoroughly disgusted at myself that I needed an experience like this to see how badly misaligned these values were to that of my reality, like an anorexic person thinking that they’re fat. I never wanted to hurt people. I never meant to leave without saying goodbye. So since I am letting my words bleed onto this page as my sorry, then I guess I’ll begin by saying that my actions spoke louder than my words. I did not preach what I value because if I did then I would’ve told the truth, even if it scared the hell out of me. I would’ve confronted my fear of confrontation, looked you dead in the eye, and said, sheepishly, “I don’t think this is going to work. Bye.”
But I now understand that this isn’t about trying, achingly, to rewrite the past with my many what ifs, but rather to learn from my mistakes and to see through the eyes of others. That sometimes it’s not always about you, but it’s also how others feel, too. And to always be accountable for your actions, thoughts, and feelings no matter how scary or uncomfortable. And to also say that I am soo sorry that I chose fear instead of honesty, because you were my worst, but best mistake, that ever happened to me. In the short time that you were in my life for you were like the toughest exam question that I never wanted to answer. That I already set myself up for failure the second that I put my pen to your page; to see how much that I am still that scared little girl and how ugly, and deep rooted, my fear of confrontation and failure was. On the other hand, you were my motivation to turn my stupid writing hobby into a side hustle. Thank you, next.
If this silent behemoth was like a mole on my face, I would’ve cut it off many years ago. But I understand that my problem isn’t as funny as my millennial puns or similes. It’s skin deep, and a part of me which makes me me, which no amount of make up can hide, medicine can cure, or jokes can laugh away. But hopefully with a lot of practice, and some patience, one day the six syllables people know me as are ‘Leeloo kind and honest’ and not ‘Casper the cowardly ghost’.
I remember once you told me how it’s always better to say how you feel in the moment instead of writing it down. So I want you to know that this apology is only one of many that I wished I could’ve had to courage to say. But in reality a part of me will always be stuck in ground hogs day inventing a million different other ways how I could’ve said sorry to you in person, and I accept that I’ll always have to live with this punishment for the rest of my life. For now though, I’m going to let you go.
Yours sincerely, until I run out of words,
P.S: I hope you’ve forgotten about me and are happy.