An Open Letter To Someone I No Longer Speak To

Dear Friend,

I’m writing to you today to say goodbye. That’s how this letter ends if you’re curious, so feel free to close this out and move on, even if I have more to say.

It has been some time since we spoke. I’d like to say I remember what our last true interaction was like, but I find myself unable; whatever it was the memory has certainly distorted over time, and to be honest I don’t know if it matters anymore. It doesn’t matter because what I think about is not how our friendship ended but that it ended at all; I think upon the fact that we no longer speak, that we will never speak again, and how this is what is truly difficult for me the more time passes.

For me, true friendship is hard to come by. I’ve written as much before, but I add such weight to the concept that I probably inadvertently squeeze out whatever vitality a relationship might normally have by force and fear and mistrust. Truth be told, though, the real meaningful friendships I make are invaluable to me; they’re a lifeline as much as anything else — and yours was one of the most important to me, back when you and I were incredibly close.

We’d talk every night. I’d tell you my problems and you’d listen. You weren’t there to give me answers or solutions, but just the fact that you were there as someone I could talk to was enough. It’s the confiding part that’s so hard for me; I don’t like to talk about myself, as I find it’s hard to put my trust in others, but to you that’s what mattered: me, myself, and all the mess that this entails.

Until we stopped talking. Until I pushed you out of my life. And then you left without saying goodbye, because… well, why would you?

I’ve never talked to anyone about why we’re not friends anymore. Not until now, anyway; it was never anyone else’s business, and to be honest it doesn’t seem like the kind of conversation most people want to have — it’s one of those things that’s better left unspoken. My fiancé Jess and I have talked about you a few times, and the impact of what not having you around does to me, but at a certain point that conversation can’t continue. There’s not too much else to talk about — and it’s not like you two are friends either (I imagine you could’ve been, but who knows).

It’s 2018 today, and Jess and I are finally getting married this year. I’m very excited for it. But as I think back on 2017 and how different our lives have become, at the end of the day there’s a part of me that just can’t believe you’re not going to be at the wedding. I’d assumed you would be for so long, because why wouldn’t you be? How could I get married without you there? When I first proposed to Jess I kept debating in my head how I wanted you to be involved in the ceremony, because at one point it almost seemed irrational to not have you there or involved…

…but not anymore — and this fact has been something I’ve been wrestling with, quietly, alone. No matter how absurd it seems, it is what is: someone I was once so close with will not have a place, will not have a seat, will not be invited to the most important day of our lives.

And because of this, I need to let you go — because if we haven’t reconnected by now… well, I don’t think it’s healthy for me to keep holding fast to hollow hope.

Noelle Stevenson

This is something I need to reconcile with, sooner rather than later, because it causes me immense pain. I’ve felt this hole caused by our distance for so long, and it has been so incredibly hard to deal with; crippling at times, in fact. There are nights where I stare up at the ceiling, unable to sleep due to this feeling of vacancy in my heart, wondering where you are. I wonder what my life would be like if you were still a part of it, what would be better and what would be worse.

Because you see, existing is incredibly difficult for me. A terrifying conceit, and a burden at that. Life is so fragile, so nonpermanent; have you ever stopped and listened to your heartbeat? Paused to really feel how your body process its interactions and sends signals to your brain? I do this a lot, far too often in fact. Sitting on my bus ride home I’ll press my hand against the glass, pausing to feel all the sensations of the world around me… and it makes me uncomfortable.

Life is supposed to be magical and I can recognize that it is, but despite the tremendous wonder around me one day these processes will no longer have anything to send a signal to. I will simply just cease to be, and what terrifies me is that I won’t even notice. No amount of therapy, medicine or meditation has helped; the panic attacks still seep in when my mind wanders too far out into the darkness beyond the veil, whether I’m in the privacy of my own home or somewhere out in the world and distracted. The terror is there when I watch certain movies, when I’m talking to someone I know at work, when I hold my cat close and feel his heart beat; it’s there when I think about the future and what the rest of my life has in store for me.

The dramatic irony is that normally I’m a fan of mystery, the excitement that lies in the uncharted territories of reality. When I engage with fiction in any medium I’m never necessarily seeking answers to the questions that will be posed when there is an opportunity to think, or theorize. I love things like LOST or Prometheus, humorously enough; I’m a big fan of stories that pose questions that don’t have answers, because I engage deeply with the aspect of debate more than I do simply having knowledge of an answer.

But my life isn’t a story, and the question my existence poses is too big. The possibilities of purpose (or lack thereof) are too grandiose, the logical conclusion too permanent. When I look straight into the heart of infinity I recoil at what I see. That’s where you’re supposed to come in, where you used to help — to let me know that it was going to be okay. Would the comfort in reality I lack be assuaged if we just talked about it?

With you having left, though, the silence caused by your absence has become deafening, simply too much for me to be okay with anymore. I’ve had to draw a line, that you’re either a part of my life or you’re not, because I find no comfort in this shrug emoji of a middle ground; the gap is too wide. For the longest time, I kind of assumed that our friendship wasn’t really over. I don’t know why I believed we might reconnect, whether it was something naive in me or perhaps even just an impossible sense of optimism, but to tell you the truth it’s getting so much harder to hold out hope, to have that kind of faith.

So I think it’s time for me to give up this ghost.

I’m not a fan of resolutions as they’re so easy to break, but I’d like to try at least my version of one: in 2018 I want to miss you less, and get on with whatever life I have left to live the best that I can. My thoughts are so often dominated by nihilism, this soul-crushing existentialism that’s been such a formative element of the majority my life; that every existing thing is born without reason, prolongs itself out of weakness, and dies by chance. But this mantra no longer has a place in my daily affirmations, is no longer a millstone around my neck that I choose to wear. I’m twice as old as I was when we first stopped talking, and I don’t want to feel this way when I’m twice my current age. I don’t think I’ll be able to bear it.

It’s time to say goodbye.

You won’t read this. I’m aware of that. To me there’s some catharsis in writing this, and the truth is I’ve been trying to write this for a few months now (really since the last time I opened up — not that you read that either, of course, but that one took a year; this just took a few months). I made a promise to myself when I wrote that, though, and I owe it to myself to keep that promise.

So, to my first and perhaps oldest estranged friend, I’m bidding you farewell. It’s late, and it’s something I’ve tried before, but I’d like to begin this new chapter of my life with a new attitude — one where I’m finally okay without you in it. You’ll have many friends without me. You’re incredibly likable, and I recognize that; you never needed me like I needed you.

You were there for me when I was alone, and I’ll always appreciate that, but I’m not alone anymore. Today there’s so much in my life that I can be happy about, if only I let myself… and as cliche or corny as it may sound, I want to choose to be happy for a while. Try it on, at least, and see how it goes. I don’t like being selfish, but I think in this instance I have to be.

I’m sure the hole inside me will stay there. It’s so wide and deep, dug over years and years with so many different trowels, and I’m sure I’ll continue to fall into the hole in the future every now and then. It’s an invisible, permanent part of who I am, as defining of my being as the color of my eyes or the hair that makes up my beard. But instead of simply digging deeper into the hole, I need to start working harder on the ladder that gets me out, and I need to do it on own.

“Things that Hide Away,” by the Dear Hunter


Matthew Meylikhov