The past few weeks, I had a realization that would cause me both great pain and great healing. Rather like amputating a limb that cannot be saved after a desperate struggle to keep it, I ended a relationship that I honestly never thought would end.

There was simply too much pain involved and I was not strong enough to deal with it all. It literally became a question of whether I would choose this relationship, and my reaction to it, over my own life. For the first time I can remember, I consciously chose to be selfish.

I didn’t want to, and I put it off as long as I could, but finally, the pain became too much and was only increasing.

I was clumsy in how I ended it, and I am sure I was cold, as I had hardened myself to the emotions that would lead me back down the path I was trying to escape. I will say that I tried my very best to be both honest and rational. I couldn’t bring myself to be vulnerable yet, but a few days later, I wrote this:

“Recipient’s Name,

“I’m sorry that my last letter was so clinical and detached, as I know it must have come across. I was only trying to be honest and rational, but I didn’t want to have to admit the deepest, scariest reasons for my breaking contact with you. I’d admitted it to myself, but no one else, and I tried hard not to think about it, but it has been there, in the back of my mind, eating away at me.

My behavior had reached the point that if I didn’t stop, I would likely end up literally dead. Repeated bouts of alcohol poisoning can’t be good for the human body, and a hangover was never a hangover anymore. My drinking was my way of dealing with all the pain, yours and mine. It turns out, I wasn’t strong enough to be the person I needed to be for myself, let alone for you and my SO, and the kids.

I think this is why I always considered you (and still do) the strongest woman I’ve ever known. You’ve handled every adversity that life has thrown at you, and while it may bow you down, you always seem to find the strength to keep moving.

I, too, wish I’d never come here, because then I never would have caused you so much pain.

I honestly thought that I could handle helping you with your life and I’ve never been more sorry about failing at something as I am at failing you. I was in over my head from the moment I left home to move here, but at that point, I truly believed if I just gave everything I could, it all would work out in the end and the pain of the journey would be worth the destination.

Only, our destinations were never the same, and so the journey never ended, and it continued to be painful. I want to stop the journey. I want to stop the pain. I want your journey to come to a peaceful, wonderful end, but our journeys, it seems clear now, will never end together.

What it comes down to, for me, is that I have to leave you to save my own life. It truly is a selfish thing to do, and I do understand that. And it is something I’ll have to live with from this day forward; I hope someday you’ll be able to forgive me. If not, I totally understand.


P.S.: If you read this and want to respond, I beg you to do so via email after having thought about it for a day or two. Thank you.”

I don’t know if it was the right thing to do or not, but I never sent it. I post it here, because I don’t honestly think the recipient reads my blog, and I desperately want a record of the fact that this letter exists. If I’d thought that it wouldn’t cause more harm than good, I would have sent it in a heart beat. Sometimes, being human and fallible makes life hard to live. Even to err on the side of caution and love can be the wrong decision.

But for the first time since I left home to join the military, I truly feel as though I am in sole control of my life. It is terrifying. Invigorating. Exhausting. Vibrant. Peaceful. I answer only to myself, ultimately, and I’ve never viewed life this way before.


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