I Killed You and I’m Not Sorry (an open letter on “living loss”)

You died on me once, just disappeared as suddenly as our love had sparked. I grieved you then, more deeply than even my dear father’s passing. My world fell apart with the loss of you, the ground crumbling beneath my feet while my insides turned to ash, and I had to rebuild. My life. Myself. I even changed my name. You resurrected three years later and we fell in love all over again — more thoroughly, more vibrantly, for the miracle of a second chance. We were grateful. We were enthralled.

And then we were over.

Your choice. Not mine.

For five more years you lingered at the edge of my consciousness, conjured back up with every random flashback, every song that reminded me of you, every child that looked just a little like your son. I’d told you I’d always consider the two of you family. You’d said you’d hold me to it. I sent birthday and Christmas cards and you thanked me politely. Civilly. Coolly. What were we now? Who were you now? Who was I to you now?

I had to kill you — in my mind, in my heart — in order to move on, because death means finality. The future we dreamed of is gone, it can never happen. There will be no wedding in the woods. We will raise no beautiful children together. Our love will not change the world as you claimed it would. You took even our friendship from me, the only thing I had to hold onto, burying it in silence. You’d promised I could keep at least that much. But you killed what we had, you suffocated it, every last remnant. So I gave you the death penalty. And now I am left to mourn, with nothing more than crystal clear memories and all the emotions still attached to them.

The echoes of us sift through my fingers like grave dirt and I need to wash my hands, scrubbing my knuckles and the creases in my palms and under my nails until they’re raw. Your ghost may haunt me now but it is cold and hollow. Intangible. It is not real — merely a filmy spectre resembling who you once were to me. If I were to reach out, I would move right through you. There is no comfort in your presence like this, only pain. I pray you find your peace and let me have mine.

I wrote you letters, you know. So many letters I never sent. A whole notebook, like a journal, saying everything I needed to say: “I miss you.” “I love you.” “I hate you.” And so much more, a tangled tapestry of emotion. The stages of grief are denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. These began long before I killed you, as your tangibility slowly faded from my life, you can see them in those letters. I went through denial and bargaining right away, and then came depression. The sadness was so deep I thought I would drown, and sometimes the floodwaters still rise and I choke on it a little. Now I find myself finally touching anger, gently, with my fingertips, like a lover. It feels alien to me, yet inevitable. I didn’t expect anger. Not for you. It makes me curious, and I think I will spend some time examining it, exploring it. I must, before I can ever make it to acceptance.

So you see, I had to kill you. You have to be dead. Because if you were alive I would still be waiting, wondering, holding my breath until the world spun and I was the one who was dead. I had to kill you… to save me. I had to. And I’m not sorry.

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I’m an editor/writer/coach with a focus on inspiring, empowering, and healing content. I love tea, travel, long hippie skirts, and diving deep into the Self.

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J Haley Phillips

J Haley Phillips

I’m an editor/writer/coach with a focus on inspiring, empowering, and healing content. I love tea, travel, long hippie skirts, and diving deep into the Self.