An Open Letter To All The Men Who Have Failed Me

Yesterday was Valentine’s Day, an annual reminder of all of love’s disappointments. A day that I spent recalling all of the ways you’ve failed to show up for me.

Every time one of you disappeared after I poured my pain on the floor for you to see, it opened the gaping wound in my heart just a little wider.

You knew my history. Or at least, you should have. If you’d paid any attention, you’d realize that I told you, many times in a number of ways, directly and indirectly.

But I’ll give you the benefit of the doubt and say maybe you didn’t know. Or at least, you most likely don’t immediately remember some of the things I told you. You didn’t know about my first love who crushed my soul into a thousand shattered pieces in a myriad of ways, not the least of which was refusing to acknowledge or respond to no less than 8 emails I sent him over the course of 2 years, absolutely laying my soul bare.

And maybe you didn’t know about how my own father avoided talking to me for an entire year because he, “thought I was mad at him or something.”

And maybe you didn’t know about my best friend. How much I loved him. And that he abruptly blocked me from every possible way of contacting him and hasn’t spoken to me three years. Maybe you didn’t know that it was the most painful, sudden loss I’ve ever experienced or that it triggered a year long depression during which my health failed and my marriage fell apart.

Maybe you aren’t familiar with the sense of panic one feels when you know it’s about to happen again, after having already happened again and again and again. You tell yourself that the feeling of impending doom, it’s all in your head. They’re not going to do this to you AGAIN. They love you. They’d never want to hurt you. And then they do.

Maybe you aren’t familiar with the aching feeling the creeps up in your heart and starts to radiate outward into your whole upper body. The contraction in your chest. The tightness in your throat. The heaviness that sets in in your stomach. The numbness that takes over as you sit there in a haze asking yourself why. Why are you doing this to me? And why does this. Keep. HAPPENING?

“Was it something I said? Was it something I did?” I think of 30,000 ways that this is my fault. “Did I hurt your feelings? Maybe I shouldn’t have told you how I felt? I probably should have worded it differently. Maybe I just have shitty taste in humans? Maybe I love all the wrong people? Maybe there are no good people? Maybe I’m a masochist? Maybe I’m fucking delusional and you never cared about me the way I thought you did? Maybe you never cared about me at all? Why am I here again? What’s the point if it all? I don’t want to feel this anymore. Maybe I should just walk out in front of a car and put myself out of my misery because anything is better than this old and ever familiar pain.”

I choked back tears on my entire walk home, watching all the people meandering through the streets, juggling their bouquets of red roses, cliché symbols of affection meant for people who are certainly far more lovable and deserving than I.

I felt the ache trying to claw its way out of my chest and into my throat, the tightness therein keeping it trapped squarely half way between a sob and a gasp for air. Quite possibly, I felt the greatest pain I’ve ever felt in the entirety of my existence.

And yet somehow—while standing on the corner of Hope Street, teetering on the edge of losing faith in myself, along with everything I’ve ever believed in, just before I reached the stairs…I still managed to forgive you.

Sincerely,
All Women, Everywhere

For the women whose hearts continue rising from the ashes.

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