Sending you this letter is taking an incredible risk, as what I say here may jade you further against me. However, I have not been forthcoming about where I have been over the past months, and honesty is the only way this is going to work. I do intend to write this seriously but the truth is sometimes best when, as Al Franken once noted, it is tinged with jokes.
I believe, strongly, that we can be friends. Given a forward mindset, a good sense of humor, and a solid sense of self, we can both become incredible people. My belief in who you could become, after all, was one of the primary reasons I continued to be with you even when I doubted my utmost. I believe you can become the fantastic, assertive, self-defined woman you seek to be. In retrospect, I see that you have always fought to define yourself separate of others. You recognize your own ability to “get lost” in another, a sort of self awareness that is truly rare. God, I sound like Dumbledore. In short, doubt not that my trust or belief in you has changed. You are ultimately someone I will always consider a friend.
I have been given a chance to stop, consider myself as to who I am becoming, and have subsequently chosen a much different path than I would have if we had continued. I am intent upon becoming my best self, someone whose actions speak louder than his words, and whom outwardly displays the inward quietness he desires. I’ve lacked focus the past year and a half I’ve been here, and you dealt marvelously with that. I’ve lacked confidence in pursuing defining myself, pursuing becoming my best self. Over the past few weeks I talk less, keep my volume quieter. Surprisingly more people listen. It’s nice, but will take me some time to make this an absolute part of myself. Trust that I am still weird, just more thoughtful about it, “consciously weird” if you will.
Your letter was brave and inspirational, and I again thank you for that. I have reflected upon the following.
We threw ourselves together without quite looking where we were stepping at first. That’s was a mistake on both our parts, I think. The excitement of finding someone you are both truly attracted to and deeply care for is a powerful force, and I realize now the responsibility it requires in its handling and display. In the future, before entering into a committed or serious relationship with another, I feel it is now best that they know me as a friend for some time, without the powerful euphoria of romance to tinge the interactions or what is shared. For my own sake and sanity, I need to keep a level head in the future, to get to know the person through “thick and thin”, “good and bad”, to see how the handle and overcome adversity, to see how they progress and grow as a human being.
Since before you first knew me, I’ve desired to be treated with more serious than I am. I feel I am now in a position to do that. If others feel awkward about my quietness, who is to blame? Certainly not I (though the constant questions of “are you alright” and “what’s wrong” are as irritating as hell). At first I was loud about you because it made both of us laugh, but as our time together continued, it became more forced, as more a means of drowning any negative feelings or doubts I was feeling at the time. For the past six months of the relationship, my reflections became increasingly negative. I doubted why you would want me, as early as late September expressing frustration that I felt used as a crutch. Yet every time I doubted, I quickly and harshly rejected it, criticizing myself for being too harsh upon you and that I was failing in providing you gentleness. I feared that if I rejected an invitation to any time with you, I would be judged and cast as simply another man who used you. I feared that label most of all. As I became more critical of you inside my own mind, I developed other fears. Your assertion that you lacked your own friends terrified me, and I came to feel responsible for your social interactions. I apologize for the time I lost my temper at you regarding that, yet cite that moment as the one time I began to overcome my greatest failing in the relationship, having a spine. My previous cowardice I now find childish and pathetic. I often told you that I felt you lacked faith, yet I lacked faith in myself and my own capacity to assert what I openly wanted or felt. I covered up my doubts with an excess of contact, immaturely attempting to drown my own increasing unhappiness, and criticizing myself as not one to judge you. Well, I’m working on that. I think I love blunt people for a reason, because I secretly am one. Alright, I have tact, but I have got to get to embracing being forward with my honest thoughts and opinions. Looking at how I acted, I realize it relates to other things. Ever noticed how with others I am always reticent to tell them if they are offending/irritating/filling the rage-meter? I worry about placating others too much Emily, and between you and me this has to change. Yet I felt breathless, out of control of myself and my own emotions. This often scared me when I was with you, but was incredible.
With family, I became increasingly aware of their importance to you, yet questioned why you sought their approval so dearly. I’ve come to understand the importance of family acceptance, and after the winter trip planned to sit down and bluntly ask them what they saw in my and needed to see if our relationship was to continue. However, your family’s vision of “what is best” for you may differ from what might make you truly happy. Finding out their views and then comparing them to your own may lend important insight. Yet I already admit to several failings of my own. I invaded their space, their time, and their life with my presence. Had I (again) asserted myself in maintaining difference (as opposed to throwing myself at them hoping for acceptance), our interactions might have fared better. It reminds me that, in the future, respect of a family’s space and comfort wins them, it shows maturity.
Yet your assertion that you did not love me completely enough I feel to be false. That is ultimately something for me to decide and judge, though not to the point where the other’s guilt makes the relationship impossible. It was the simplest things you did that enchanted me; gently holding me, making a simple meal together, seeing you happy after your runs, letting me rest at your home when I was too tired to return to my own. It was your smallest acts of caring that always, truthfully, and honestly soothed my doubts. I noted our styles of displaying affection as different, but the gentleness with which you treated me was unlike any other I had ever experienced. Again, whether or not you violated my trust, or who could love me better in terms of being a life-partner, is ultimately up to me as well. In writing that letter, you regained it. That you assert that you were not mature enough for a serious relationship…I can only reply in saying that by in part sacrificing your own feelings with such consideration of my own you ultimately have proven yourself of being so. In the end, Emily, I believe that we became so careful of the other that we made it impossible for our connection to advance. We lacked trust in ourselves and the other. I only offer this advice, that caution in excess can be more dangerous than a lack of it.
I am flattered that you think me ambitious, it is the trait I usually feel I most lack. The concerns you raised regarding my aspirations though are something I have long fought about within myself. All I can say is that I know I have the intelligence, ingenuity, and love of others to find a way to embrace those aspirations without sacrificing closeness with whomever becomes my significant other. To assume otherwise I would hotly contest, I am not that impudent or selfish.
Now I have the space to move forward with myself, to ultimately become the better man I know I am capable of becoming. I will push myself hard, at points possibly too hard, but trust that I will learn to temper my drive and find the speed I am most comfortable growing at. The first step is to begin taking myself more seriously, to truly value my own opinions valid. The next is to give myself the time and space to consider my words and actions, something I am quite poor at doing. The final is to simply go for “things”, things that define and inspire me, things I wish to have in my life. It is time I squarely placed the focus back upon myself and considered, for the first time in a while, who I want to become. In that regard, it may be close to a month by the next time you see me. I cannot ascertain how much, but already I feel I have changed significantly. My views have matured. I must love them not just for who they are, but also for who they are actually becoming, and this will be the ultimate measure by which I choose my future partner (and visa-versa). They must be complete individuals, having a faith in a definite path they desire and in themselves, and I must likewise about myself. I must feel that we have the space and capacity to define ourselves, regardless of the differences in those paths, and share the joys and come together during the difficulties. Faith that the other can handle themselves, and in their capacity to grow and mature is absolutely requisite. I hope this may better explain my reasoning behind my more cautious and mediated views upon romance I mentioned earlier. It is, likewise, not about throwing oneself at the other and hoping to stick. In this, I fault myself the most. You put care and incredible consideration into the relationship, I simply expected emotions and feelings to be enough. They are not. I did not treat your considerations with the patience and seriousness they deserved. I will know better in future relationships. If I fall in love again, it will be marked not just by its intensity, but by its honesty, patience, and maturity.
My own journey may take me some time, and I look forward to it. I offer you my hand, free of blood, asking if you wish to take part in this journey not as a lover now, but as a friend. I am keen to bare witness to your own. I will eventually date others, you are correct in this. If I do so, I ask that you hold me to my utmost friend. I now know to listen to your own insight with much greater care, and welcome it. All the same, take your time, and take care of yourself. Individuals move at different paces, and I will not allow myself to act with the same disregard for your boundaries I previously did. In that, I say pace yourself, focus and believe in the incredible woman you know you will become.
With that, forwards to happiness. I don’t know what turns our respective paths will take, but I do believe that they will both be incredible and fantastic beyond our wildest dreams.
PS: Still a wild and crazy guy.