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An email written late at night, to someone I hurt very badly and haven't been in touch with since. A desperate attempt to gain closure, I suppose; a horrible realization that I don't really know myself.

This was a hard email to write, so please read it.

It's been a while. I wonder if I really hurt you as much as I seem to think I did, or if I didn't really mean that much to you and you forgot everything a long time ago. Hopefully it's the latter that's true.

I've been very dishonest with myself for a long time, ever since I selfishly and carelessly threw away a very good thing. After I ended our relationship so abruptly, I did what I always do -- I distracted myself as much as possible and did everything I could to avoid having to think about it. It caught up with me over time, as it always does.

I remember having a conversation with you once about selfishness. If there's one thing I want people to remember about me when I die, it's that I was selfless. But that's not true. As I told you then, and as I'm telling you again now, I'm as much a selfish bastard as anyone else. I have always been at my most selfish in relationships.

One of the "themes" of our relationship, you might say, was openness. I tried to get you to be open with me, and to share your feelings with me. Over time, you did. I think you believed that I was being open with you, too. I wasn't. It wasn't intentional. I only recently realized that I've never been open with anyone. I'm more of an introvert than I even let myself know.

Trying to explain why I did what I did was impossible for me at the time. I didn't understand why I was doing it then, so I blamed it on you. I figured that, if I had lost interest in you, it must've been something you had done, despite the fact that I couldn't seem to pin down what, exactly, it was. Only now have I come to understand the real reason why I did such a horrible thing to you.

I was scared shitless that you would find out who I really was. See, I'm not the person everyone thinks I am. I'd love to be, and I usually try to be, but I'm not. I'm not even the person you thought I was. Half the time, I'm not even the person *I* think I am. I was scared because everything was progressing so well. For once, I was in a relationship that wasn't doomed and that wasn't just a stupid high school game. And when I realized this, it freaked me out.

I was too insecure for that relationship. I couldn't let you learn my secrets. I didn't know what to do. I tried spending time by myself, that didn't work. I tried sabotaging the relationship -- I thought that if you got mad at me, things would stop going so well and we'd fall back into the volatile but somehow "comforting" type of relationship that I was used to with Meagan. And then I'd be safe.

I'll stop spitting out this nonsense shit and get to the point.

The point is, I'm sorry. I feel like what I did to you was the most selfish, petty, mean thing I've ever done to anyone. I toyed with your emotions, I deceived you, and then I stabbed you through the fucking heart just so I wouldn't have to step out of my comfort zone. And even now, like the asshole I am, I somehow seem to think that saying I'm sorry will make it all better. Maybe I'm being selfish even now, just doing this so I can stop feeling guilty. I don't know.

But I'm sorry.

I don't expect anything from you, but it would probably make my day if you sent me a reply. Even "Fuck you, you worthless sack of shit" would at least give me some justification in feeling the way I do. Anyway, if I've just totally missed the boat and you could really care less, then forgive me for making a big deal out of it. Thanks for reading.

-- Ryan

After a long wait, I got this response, and a heavy weight flew off my shoulders:

>This was a hard email to write, so please read it.

I saw that sentance, and then I saw the date, and then I burst out laughing despite myself. I haven't checked my email in a very long time. I guess that's what I get. Well, that and 131 messages.

No, you didn't hurt me. I mean, it hurt for a few days, of course, like any rejection would. But within a week I was over it. And I felt very free. I saw one of those guys who does the cans at Fred Meyer and realized I wasn't limited to Merlo. And now I'm not. I guess I would probably seem like a completely different person now. It seems like years ago that this all happened.

You say you succeeded in getting me to be open. You didn't. Maybe I pretended, but I don't even remember doing that. I told you I loved you a few times because I thought that was what you wanted to hear. I liked the idea of our relationship more than anything else.

I'm an introvert, too. No man is an island, complete unto himself. I think I could be, if everyone else would just leave me alone.

Don't beat yourself up. If our relationship could have worked, it probably would only have been because we had a superficial closeness and never went beyond that.

Don't worry about me. I'm doing great. I'm out on my own, working and going to PCC. Speaking of PCC, did you ever graduate?

Anyway, I'm sorry it took so long to respond. If you want to go see a movie or something sometime, let me know.

Io sono molto bene! E tu?

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