A Letter to Someone Who Loved Me

by | Aug 28, 2021 | Chapter Nine, Letters | 0 comments

Day 10: To someone who loved me. This one was so hard. And cathartic.

TW Self-harm, alcohol abuse, suicide attempt.

We were 17, and we loved each other. A deep, crazy traumatic love, where we played out all our fears and self-loathing; 18 months of back-to-back Romeo-and-Juliets written into flesh.

You wrote yours as music, lyrics and art…and hard bites that you cut into your body with whatever came to hand. I remember your favourite red Stanley knife, and how you’d subtly leave it out, so I’d know to ask you what was wrong, and where you were growing new scars. You thought you were better than me at everything.

I wrote mine as poetry. And I thought I was a better person than you. Not because my words flew more true, but because I imagined I was coping with life without hurting myself, or you.

Nothing could have been further from the truth. You broke up with me sometimes, but you always cried and gnashed your teeth at life when you knew I was peeking at you. Made it so clear you needed rescued, there was nothing else for me to do but drown you in the sweet I love yous that fed your ego and kept you alive inside.

Meanwhile, my fierce self-reliance meant I made my wounds on the inside. I was all pain-body, a knife edge forged from fury and agony, tempered in tears. Instead of expressing my feelings as a river of daily razor cuts, I harboured a violent, raging volcano, waiting to erupt. When the pressure built up, it would all overflow at once and burn everything away. At the end, when it was done, I’d walk away from life as I had been living it, and create a new one from the ashes.

I had one safe space that always survived the burning times. My oldest friendship. With her, I’d extinguish the volcano’s fires with vodka. It was the water of life, and I came to it only when I was crawling on my face through the desert, dying inside. She too, had great pains. We rewrote our histories together in the void vodka blessed us with. Built the vaults and and threw away the keys for one another, committing each never to remember anything. A sacred space for all the things we wished had never happened.

One day, I drank with a new friend, who pressured me into it. She didn’t know about the vault or what was in it – she just wanted to have fun. I had no control with alcohol: when I drank, it was always and only to destruction. I was already half a litre of straight vodka in when it finally dawned on her that trouble was brewing, and she thought to call for help.

You arrived to me raving, raging, churning up tortures from years of abuse you had no idea were under the surface. At first you thought it was drunken stories, how could it be true? How could I have kept these monsters writhing within, and given myself to you, without you ever knowing.

As I walked over my body, one story at a time, it sank in for both of us. We met eye-to-eye, in the calm centre of the truth storm. My heart collapsed, when I remembered nothing ever goes back into Pandora’s box. I believed there was no way I could undo telling you, but to burn us to the ground.

I didn’t want to rebuild from the ashes, without your love. Instead, I locked myself into the bathroom, and set about drinking a bottle of bleach. If you hadn’t broken in and held me so tightly while I broke myself down, I wouldn’t be here now.

I remember flashes of the smooth planes of your shoulders. The white streak that already graced your young hair. Your summer ocean smell. The warmth of your hands on my back. Your red shirt. The way you felt, when your body entwined with mine on the bathroom floor. Flashes of sobbing. Of vomiting. Drifting in and out of consciousness. Ripping apart at the seams of my soul. And for the first time, wanting someone to know me. I wanted to truly share my secrets and not bear their whole burden alone.

It was a gift, sharing my secrets with you. Slowly, and with great reverence, you erased pieces of pain, charting a new map of my body. Desire, need, love and better memories.

It was a mistake, sharing my secrets with you. Our bargain for mutual salvation had an undisclosed price. Control by fear. We called it love, but it was a dance where you alternately feared I would harm myself, and turned it into a debt to be repaid in vigilance for your life. A life only ever endangered, it seemed, whenever I wanted to meet with other friends.

A dance of me alternately loving you so painfully, I contorted to become whatever you desired, over time turning into little more than a huge oversized jumper and a beanie hat. And me breaking free momentarily to where I could see our self-harm had become each other.

I ended things only when I understood that choosing to save your life was forfeiting mine. It consumed me, the fear that you’d truly take your life. But that fear was short-lived. Just a few weeks later it seemed, I was replaced by a girl in a red dress.

I don’t know if our love was ever made of love, it was so filled with need. It was the brace we put on every day, just to survive the world. And we did. We have. More than survived it: learned to truly thrive in it.

I still remember your soft flesh and hard angles. The hours, days, weeks, months, we spent entangled. Your art. How we bruised our hearts. How we broke apart.

How sometimes we came together again over the next decade, as you sought me out whenever another lover moved on. How each time you showed up, I saw a new piece of myself. Why I never ever took you back.

And it wasn’t because it was mistake the first time: then it was exactly where we were needed to be. When you broke into that bathroom, you broke into me.

A crack that little-by-very-little, taught me to let others in. To be brave enough to trust. To know I am strong enough to survive hurt. To feel worthy enough to heal. To be big enough to be whole. To be vulnerable enough to be seen and heard. To be bright enough to light the way for others. To be held; to love and be loved; to desire life, and to fight for it.

I never took you back, because we were never meant to be forever. We were a fever we both had to burn through. An affliction of need and a thousand lessons.

I never took you back, but I long to hold the girl that I was. To tell her it will be ok. That her pain is real, and her heart is true. That she’s being forged for something great, and that she will be me soon.

Dr. Morgana McCabe Allan


There’s always more to LEARN

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