I prided myself on being able to let go without any hatred. It was one of the hardest things I had done. Maybe because you were a first for a lot of things. My first time experiencing that type of care for someone. My first time getting to know the not-so-nice parts of someone. My first time giving all of myself to someone. My first time.
I had love for you. Don’t get me wrong, I wasn’t in love, but that didn’t mean I didn’t have love in my heart for you. And there were so many signs. Oh so many. And it’s not like I didn’t see them, I just chose to ignore them. And that was my mistake. The universe made it so easy for me to leave you. To hate you. But I stayed regardless. It was my choice and mine alone. Because I can admit to myself a little less painfully now that if I had left you all those months ago you wouldn’t have cared. Like you didn’t care when I did end up leaving. Or maybe you did, a little. You were always so short with your emotions it was hard to talk to you without feeling like I was walking on eggshells. So I let things slide. Over and over. Pretending that I was alright. Pretending that I didn’t cry myself to sleep for the fifth time that week. Pretending that when I did see you all I felt was joy, when looking back now it was always a mixture of happiness and resentment.
It was always toxic, I just didn’t understand.
Because you were my first.
Your name came up today. It was random and it caught me off guard. Sad to say that even now the way I can present you to others is in a bad light. Because that’s all you left for me. It was my mistake to see the potential in you. Only the potential. Because everyone has potential but not everyone works at it. And sadly, you were one of those people. It took me a long time to accept that you just were. There wasn’t going to be some grand moment when you magically realized you could do better for yourself. That you had to wake up and realize that you could achieve so much more. Our phone calls where you talked about your dreams and your aspirations and your goals, I know that you can achieve those things. But you won’t. Because that’s just the type of person you are. And it breaks my heart a little to know that you may never reach your potential. It breaks a little, but not like it used to.
It’s hard being able to see people’s potential because that never goes away. If I were to run into you now or 10 years from now, I’d still see the same kind guy I met that day in December. The one who taught me how to play pool. The one I could talk to for hours on end through midnight phone calls. The one who opened up that night as we sat in an empty parking lot. The one who I saw as broken while everyone else just saw the façade.
But that was then. And this is now.
And now I understand that people can be toxic regardless of their humanity. And it’s ok to sometimes miss someone but not want them with you. Sometimes it’s just better that way.
And I used to believe that everyone could and would reach their potential at some point in their lives. But now I’m starting to wonder if that’s really true. Maybe some people never tap into that potential. The potential that makes them their best selves. The selves that I see in everyone yet the ones they fail to see within themselves. Maybe you’re one of those people. And I was never gonna be able to help you out of it, no matter how long I stayed. So the universe urged me to go.
So I did.
I prided myself on being able to let go without any hatred. But today it hit me that it wasn’t true. Deep down I held anger and resentment towards you. How dare you hurt me and go on about your life like nothing happened? How is it fair that you can continue on about your day and not waste a single moment thinking about what we shared when I think about you every day? But that’s just the way you are. You hurt the one you used to love, so how could I have possibly expected anything different? It’s getting better, but the reminders here and there don’t let you escape my mind, not fully. It’ll get better in time they tell me, and I know it’s true. But how long?
Resentment and anger are unfamiliar to me. You were the first I loved. You were the first I had to let go. Now you will be the first I will learn to forgive. And I’m not sure how to do that yet, but I know I will. Once I do, I can heal those last cracks in my heart that had unknowingly weighed me down. Because I owe it to myself to reach happiness. I gave so much of myself to you that I had none left for me. It was always take take take, but you never once gave. It’s sad that those you care for so much can be so selfish.
But I don’t hate you. I never have and I never will. I just hate how you made me feel. I learned that I can give more than my all to someone, to be completely drained, yet still stay by their side expecting nothing in return. Because I know how to love. To truly love. Not just say lovely and beautiful but empty words. The empty words you promised me you’d never tell.
I want you as long as life allows me to.
So many broken promises you probably don’t even remember half of them. And despite this, you’re not a bad person. But you’re also not as good as I once believed. And that took a lot for me to admit to myself. Because I had you on a pedestal and no matter what others said about you, I saw the best in you. Always. But I should’ve stepped back and forced myself to accept what I already knew. But I didn’t want to. Because I wanted you. And no matter how bad things got, I was willing to toss those aside. For you. When you couldn’t even give me one sincere I’m sorry.
But maybe tonight will be very last time I write about you. You’re probably off at some party while I’m here pouring out some last feelings I didn’t know I had. And that’s ok. If I really do intend to forgive you, then I cannot wish you any ill. Maybe you’ll prove me wrong and you’ll make something of yourself. Maybe you will work towards your goals and reach your dreams. Maybe you will heal all the broken pieces that only you know you have.
And I will be so proud of you.
And if the universe deems it to be, maybe we’ll cross paths again once we’re both in better places. And it’ll be a second chance to be in each other’s lives without all the pain. But until then, I must focus on healing myself completely. I must learn to forgive you.
For then I can wish you true happiness from every inch of my soul.
Words by Kassandra Cortez // Photography by Ava Williams.