Claire Gillespie: A Love Letter

I love you, but I don’t know why.

I think about you more often than I should. It’s been such a long time we last spoke and I chastise myself every single day that I’m not over you and I haven’t moved on. Maybe because I haven’t moved on. I’ve described being in love with you as a ‘default setting’, am I really in love with you if I just go back to you when nothing else is available? I know I did love you but now I’m not so sure. That’s the best it’s been in a while.

When I lost a member of my family (I know you know), you said nothing. I was so strong and yet I kept loving someone who could not spare a moment to tell me they were sorry for my loss. I can’t think about that time without thinking about you. And so undeserving of that space you take up too. If it was the other way round you could have taken everything I ever owned if only it would make you feel better for one second.

You will tell other people, and yourself, that you don’t care and you never did. You will have lied. No one who really didn’t care would be so aggressive in their silence.

This is one of a thousand things you’ve ever done that make me wonder if you don’t really hate me. Did you ask our mutual friends how I was? Grieving. Exhausted. Single. Maybe you feigned interest but really you think I got what I deserved.

Maybe it hurt you so much to imagine me in that much pain you couldn’t bring yourself to ask, just in case I told you exactly how it felt. Maybe you are still too afraid of how you feel about me to go anywhere near me, even in the worst of circumstances. Either way you said nothing, and as a result, it doesn’t really matter what you thought.

Silence has its own meaning.

It is not one of love and gentle affection.

That seems like a strange action for you to take since you thought how people perceived you was more important than who you were. In your life gestures meant more than any of the feelings behind them. I know this did not always work because when I remarked that you ‘knew everyone’ and ‘everyone loved’ you, a close friend told me this was not as true as it might appear. The things people said about you behind your back were true.

You were mean and unfeeling sometimes. I was a giant pain in the ass who was honest with no one.

We could have both been better but we were not.

––

I wonder how you would feel now, knowing I am happy. I wonder if you really thought I would be so successful and so confident and so delighted in my own skin. I make friends so easily and bat away the affections of unworthy men.

I am ambitious and committed, and I do not know if I would give up the life I have now to have spent an alternative one with you. That is how I know I am unsure, and that is how I know I am getting better. There are things I have done and seen that I could not have if we had been together all this time, and I would not erase them to wake up next to you every day. I would still come running if you called but that is different. It is not perfect but it at least puts the onus on you, even if my decision-making is compromised.

I wonder why I still think I love you. I do love you of course and that has nothing to do with anything listed above. There is really nothing good there, even the biggest optimist couldn’t find a silver lining in all of that trash. When did my life become an Adele song? I think I only love you because I have not loved anyone since, and that is not good enough.

I have felt real passion and joy since you, I have looked into the eyes of people who were surer in their affections and not so afraid of them. I have seen glimpses of things that could have been love and they would have been much better for me than you. I have had people who made me forget all about you, it is just that they all left me, too. They left me, but we fell apart so I can pretend it is not over.

We do not have any happy memories as lovers, just anger and mistrust and all the terrible words you said to protect yourself, and not me.

––

Sometimes I remember all of this, and other times I cry into my friend’s arms and scream ‘WHAT IF HE MARRIES HER AND NOT ME’. I wish I did not know that to answer all of these questions I will have to ask you these things even though that’s also the only way I will ever be free of all of this. I do not get over you because I do not have to because I do not know if I need to. I do not want to.

I don’t even know if I hope you are happy. I hope sometimes you feel as heartbroken as I do. People would probably say that means I don’t love you at all.

Love is not always wonderful and kind, though. Loving you haunts me and it is unpleasant but it is love nonetheless. Stale and painful and unforgettable; haunting.

I know I love you now, but I hope that there is a time that I do not.

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