A Love Letter to My Ex about My Mental Health Struggles

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Dear Jeffrey,

I put off this letter long enough. Repeatedly I set aside my pen, attempting to hold back the words that neither of us will openly share. Even though I Snapchat you pictures of Schnauzers and you invite me to obscure Indie concerts as your nonromantic plus one, neither of us has the guts to actually talk, to actually sit down over coffee at that café we adventured to for our first Valentine’s Day and discuss the dirty details of what happened.

Toward the end, that was all we did: Talk—or scream, I guess. Endlessly argue about what could possibly be wrong with our portrait of a perfect relationship. The well-liked Instagrams were cute enough, our abundant “Netflix and Chill” sessions were chill enough (at least according to Ted Mosby). We shared interests, mutual high school and college friends, offbeat music tastes and an odd sense of humor. So what the f—k went wrong?

I know you broke up with me because of “it”—the euphemism for my terribly-timed depression poorly aligned with our budding romance. My mental state loomed over the second half of our relationship like an overprotective parent lacking any good intentions. I know you tried, and I know you stayed. Our breakup may have caught me off-guard, but I should have seen the storm coming for months.

When you confessed you couldn’t handle my mood swings anymore, I ignored my flaws and blamed you. I bitterly retorted that you were selfish. Selfish for breaking your promise, selfish for breaking my heart.

The truth is, I was the selfish one. I forced someone who I sent “I love you, babe,” texts to every night to stay in a stagnant, unhealthy relationship. I made you be my boyfriend far beyond the point when I stopped acting like a loving partner in return. I held you to standards I didn’t adhere to. I started arguments you should have begun. Selfishness plagued our relationship, but the wrong culprit always took the stand for the guilty charges.

Depression is a mental illness that can make victims crazy—both literally and metaphorically. The sickness infected not only my mind, but also my heart. My depression threw you on a pedestal and made you “King of My Whole World.” I loved you too much, without loving myself. I could coo sweet nothings into your ear all night without matching my affection with respectful affirmation. I countered wonderful compliments like “you are perfect,” with bitter remarks about absolutely everything you had done wrong in the last 24 hours.

My actions spoke louder than words. Although my words oozed with loving intent, the romantic poetry never matched my actions, always tainted with aggression. I loved you and you were supposed to love me unconditionally, no matter how much I changed or how poorly I treated you in return.

I now know loving someone isn’t enough. You chose to love me, yet you weren’t required to love me. My ultimatums tied with pinky promises were an indirect way to flip you the f—k off. How could I have actually loved you if I couldn’t even treat you as someone who deserved to be loved?

I don’t have the answer to our troubled relationship, but I do have insight for our future love affairs. We made one simple mistake: We weren’t happy.

While movies and modern media make love out to be about passionate chemistry, romantic arguments and all-or-nothing arrangements, reality knows better. All love really needs is two people, not in love, but in complete happiness with one another. Passion shouldn’t be calculated by recklessness, but measured by mutual respect. Instead of obsessing over the idea of someone, we must be infatuated with the reality of someone and willing to accept them within the context of their own life. We have to be happy with who we’re falling for.

We wrote everything right on paper and signed it with an “XO.” But as the months went by, I looked at you I slowly realized we didn’t fit together anymore. I thought being lonely together was better than being alone, so I stayed. But you knew better, and finally found shelter from the storm. My depressed mind took a little longer to learn that lesson.

Despite our flings and flirty messages, we both know we will never end up together. Sure, we were lovers, and then we tried to be best friends, but we were never truly happy. Neither of us wants that future for the other. I love you too much to make you settle for someone who steals your smile for her own sunshine.

We’ve both met and seen new people since then, and most of these treks into the dating arena turned into terrible stories we comfortably retell and laugh about over a beer. But once we find the right people, the ones that make us genuinely happy, I think we’ll be more reluctant to share. And once we reach that point we’ll have finally hit the eye of the storm, moving on from “It” and moving on from “Us.”

I still care about you deeply, and always will. I really hope you find your girl with the yellow umbrella someday. I just hope she’s as far from “It” as the two of us will be by then and she shields the raindrops that threaten to fall down your face.

XO,

S

Sara is a senior at University of San Diego, majoring in Communication Studies and majorly unprepared for post-grad life. When she's not writing, she enjoys poorly playing ukulele, thrift shopping with Macklemore and drinking iced coffee out of teacups.

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