To My Dear, Favorite Jerk
My dear, favorite "jerk",
I still can't get over the fact that you hid my identity by calling me "Shahrazad." Not very subtle, but that's always how I remember you to be.
Although exesanonymous.com is our brainchild, I never imagined that I'd be contributing a story myself. But considering the circumstances, I'm beginning to understand why people would tell stories about those who were important in lives past. Maybe that's why we sometimes call them significant other?
I won't claim to understand everyone's reasons; you did tell me to try and put myself in the shoes of our contributors and their exes. It's only now that I've tried… I've imagined myself as that shifty girl whom we’ve suspected of cheating… that HR Lady and her awkward interview… even that aspiring lyricist and career woman… More than that, I have imagined you in other roles as well…
I do have to concede: there's something common, universal—or whatever you want to call it—that binds all our stories together. What was it you said? Shared human experience? Whatever it is, you're right. I see it now, reading the stories we've uploaded here: stories of regret, of reminisce… stories of denial and hope.
When you first pitched to me the idea of exesanonymous.com, you never knew how much I wanted to slap you. That was the third to the worst thing you did since that time you thought I was letting you break up with me. I was thinking, after everything we went through, after what you did, you want me to collaborate with you on a website? On a website that deals with exes? Besides, who would even want to contribute to this site? What do they get out of it?
But, like I always have been with you, I kept my peace. I accepted you for who you were: a genius in some areas and a complete idiot in others. In these areas, as you came to admit, you were an idiot. But given the stories we've collected, who isn't? The fact that I'm writing one now...
You really meant it, when you talked about being naive. You were. We were. The way you selected and rejected stories told me that. Some stories were outright bizarre, fictional even, I would suspect. But you uploaded them anyway. You weren't using your naivety as an excuse after all, as it turned out.
I wonder if I realized it back then, that I, too, was naive. Probably not. I was too focused on waiting for you to get knocked back to your senses. Too focused, back then, to have us pick up where we left off.
Then you had to tell the whole world about us. For what? To satisfy online inquiries? To be fair, I think you really believed in the total anonymity of exesanonymous.com. I didn't. I was quite aware how little anecdotes give out clues as to who each contributor is. Funny, now that we're past it, how we finally had a fight, never as boyfriend-girlfriend, but as exes. Maybe not so funny. It was, after all, the turning point, when our remaining conversations changed their tone.
I admire how you fought for our friendship. I raised the right questions, you told me. I remember you saying how sorry you are, like you always do. But I had it. Four years of waiting for you was already bad enough. But to tell the world about what only we shared? That was how I thought back then.
I gave up on you and I'm sorry. The truce, the making up that we had... I know you meant it. But, at that time, I was just saving face. I don't know if you noticed, but you were the only one initiating the conversations, the hangouts... I never did.
I... I eventually dated Jason, partially just to get you off my back. You might have gotten the hint by then. Only that you were too gentlemanly to... No, not gentlemanly. You were a friend when I wasn't. When Jason left, you stuck around long enough to make sure I was going to be fine.
Then you moved on. You and... I was glad you finally dated again. For me, you finally did what you set out to do: overcome your fear of death in a relationship.
When I heard about you and Sheila, I immediately visited the site. Which of these stories provided you your answer? Well, that's how it is, isn’t it? One person throws you the questions, another person provides you the answers.
It's not that I wanted to be back together with you. I knew the window for that had passed. It's just that I regret not having told you all this. Not telling you I'm sorry.
But when was I supposed to tell you? Not while you were dating Sheila. Sincere as I was with my intentions, people could easily misunderstand. But when? When you finally got engaged? When you and Sheila got married?
Perhaps that's why I didn't attend your wedding despite your invitation. I was resigned to keep this secret to the grave.
Then the typhoon happened. On your honeymoon. Your mom told me about it.
I try to console myself that you both were at your happiest when it happened. That it wasn't in the least bit painful.
Strange, how fragile relationships are: it takes two to start them and only one—or none—to end them.
When your mom told me, I wondered whether or not I should finally shut exesanonymous.com down. I went through the site again, reading story after story. I followed your advice: putting myself in the shoes of some involved and imagining you doing the same.
I know you'll never get to read this. It wouldn't matter to you anyway. I know you've forgiven me. I just wish I could have asked for forgiveness while you were still around. But Drew said I should write anyway. To get things off my chest.
You’d have approved of Drew. He's my version of your Sheila: someone I'd like to kick buckets with. Somebody who would've never been insecure around you.
Maybe I I'll just leave the site be. I have no plans to manage it, as some of the contributions just contain painful memories. Or perhaps I should find someone else to manage exesanonymous.com. You're right, some contributions do provide catharsis. I don't know yet. We'll see.
I should wrap this letter up now. There's just one more thing I'd like to add: Thank you. If there's anything I learned about this brainchild of ours, is that revisiting a relationship past doesn't have to be bitter at all. Among many other things.
May you and Sheila be happy up there.