Your name popped up on my phone for the first time in a while. I was searching for a song on my Spotify and our shared playlist appeared. You must have forgotten to delete it while you were erasing every remnant of me from your life. When you finally threw away the stale, rotting flowers that you kept weeks after we broke up. When you randomly unliked all my playlists and blocked me on Spotify — something I had no idea was even possible. When you threw yourself into another relationship fueled out of spite and hatred for me — every date reminding you so much of me that you couldn’t help but mention my name and speak whatever malice you felt about me like you did with your other exes on our dates. To you, I was the villain. The flight that carried you to crash, the early morning cold when your heater stops working, forcing you to lay in bed all day, the protruding nail on the staircase railing that always deeply cuts your finger, the small scratch on the front of your almost-perfect car, the broken vent in the back of your freezer causing all your food to defrost and eventually spoil, the crooked picture frame in your living room that won’t stay straight no matter how many nails you add. No matter how I describe it, I was the antagonist in your story — the words you shared with all your friends and every person you met. Yet I can’t blame you, because if I was you, I would have done the same. I would have told my friends it was so out of the blue. Added in tiny lies to make you seem worse than you actually were. Rolled my eyes and ranted when your name got brought up, finding every excuse to criticize you. All because you would have been my villain. But in reality, you thought I was yours.
Maybe if I was more honest with you, I wouldn’t just be your villain, but we would be each others’. If I had told you all the real reasons I left, sucking all of the chocolate coating off a bitter fruit before handing it to you, throwing away the sugar, milk and creamer before serving you the darkest roast I could ever brew, would you have understood? If I had told you how your aroma suffocated me, replacing the breathable air in my lungs with dark hopelessness, or that the thought of being in a relationship made my heart slow past the point of being at peace to a deadly dooming state, freezing my body into a empty, numb corpse, would you have understood? If I had pointed out how self-centered this relationship was, focusing only on your needs, would I still be your villain? If I had shared my traumas earlier, would you have stopped making them worse? Would you have pushed the center of the relationship to the middle between us by asking if I was okay, or would you have stayed on your side, aggressively pulling me to you as my eyes went dark? Maybe if I had been more honest with you, the dark hopeless air would have clouded behind me, trailing like a glooming shadow instead of slowly filling every crevice in my lungs. Where I could feel comfortable pulling the cheery mask of positivity off my face to show you how I really felt about everything going on in my life. Where the tiniest weight, lighter than the pink two-pound mini ones you can buy at Meijer, is pulled off my shoulder because I could now hide the deafening mental spiral I had been sucked into from one less person. But I couldn’t be honest with you. I felt the need to hide behind that cheery mask because I didn’t want you to think I was that girl. I didn’t want you to think I was the flight, the early morning cold, the protruding nail, the small scratch or the crooked frame. I wanted to be the blankets that protected you from the broken heater, the stitches that healed your finger, the paint that covered the scratch and the level that straightened your frame. When I really think about it, I wanted to be all these things not for you but for myself. It was my desperate attempt at rejecting all the bleakness surrounding my life, and convincing myself that I could be and am this bubbly, charismatic, optimistic girl that everyone can’t help but like.
Sometimes when I think back on it, I’m surprised you didn’t expect the breakup sooner. I’m surprised you said it was so out of the blue and you thought I was fine. But then again, you never really paid attention to my side of things: how I was feeling or what was going on in my life. So how would you have noticed me pulling away, becoming quieter, caring less, giving up, losing hope? How would you have noticed over the sound of your own voice as you overpowered everything I had to say?
I hope you don’t read this. I hope that you never check up on me, search my name to see what I’m up to and stumble upon this. But you will. So I ask you not to respond, not to text me asking me why I wrote this so long after I ended it, not to ask me why I didn’t tell you the truth, not to send this to your friends and speak the malice that I know you used to and maybe still spew about me. I ask you to take what I wrote with something sweet to chase my bitter words as they slip roughly down your throat. And I ask you not to dwell on how bitter these words are and how different they are from the excuses I made up when I left. I don’t know why I chose to write this so late, why I didn’t do it right after I left or even in the few months after. But I wrote this for myself, and only myself. This is my closure, where typing it out will release my body of all the truths I’ve hidden from you and even myself. So my body can now float, ridding myself of the ankle weights that made me sink to the bottom; so it can now fly with the breeze of a single gust of wind. Where my name can now truly be light. It’s so I can let go of any bits of resentment I hold against you and against myself. With this letter, I let you go.
I always did say I would write about you.
MiC Columnist Roshni Mohan can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.