An Open Letter to My First Lover
It’s been a minute since the last time we had anything to do with one another. I’m not sure what good it will do to reach out now, but there was a time when you were very important to me, and I suppose there’s some value there worth acknowledging.
We were a funny couple from the get-go. No one was all that pleased with our pairing. My friends and family all thought you were an odd match for me and were increasingly candid about it until we parted ways and beyond. I’ve heard since then that people on your side felt similarly.
When I met you, I’d never been romantically involved with anyone. But after months of cultivating an intimate friendship, we grew into each other.
I also grew frustrated. Uncertain of what it was that we were doing or how it was supposed to go. There came a point where we were obviously more than friends, but we hadn’t discussed as much so what did it mean!?
So I did the thing that made the most sense to me:
I boldly confronted you with an essay I had written outlining my thoughts and feelings on the matter.
(How on brand is that?)
The day I gave you that letter, you had come over with the express intent to “ask me out” – I guess we were on the same page after all.
You were more experienced with me, which made me incredibly shy. Never at any point was I jealous of the time you had spent with other partners; I was just nervous about… screwing it up?
But you never let me feel inadequate for that. You were nothing but supportive as we delved into our relationship together.
Do you remember how built our foundations from the text boxes of MSN Messenger? We were both deeply inquisitive, knowledge-hungry individuals, and this naturally bled into our curiosity about one another. You asked such poignant questions, which challenged me to do the same. Questions about what we wanted, where our interests lay, what we would like to do with our lives. Ultimately, these questions began to apply themselves to our sexual exploration, which was one of my favourite parts of staying up too late in front of the computer screen.
It took several days of “dating” before I even let you kiss me. But then my floodgates burst wide open and things picked up exponentially from there. I wouldn’t be ready for intercourse for quite some time because I was terrified of the idea of accidental pregnancy; I appreciate how you never once pressured me beyond my comfort zone there. I was happy to explore every inch of you, of me through you, of us through each other at whatever pace felt right, and I liked that you wanted to be there with me too.
I know I wasn’t easy to bring to orgasm then. I will always appreciate how patient you were with me. I’ve known a lot of mouths since yours and somehow yours is still one of the most generous.
Our sexual chemistry was undeniable. We were very well-suited in that regard, I think. We gave each other the permission to fantasize, to explore; to discuss deep, dark thoughts with each other. Ever the nerds that we were, we would study on our own and bring back our findings for new discussions and practical applications. We were experimental with techniques and toys and positions and locations. I wrote you lengthy erotic passages when we were apart; you got me my first proper vibrator as a graduation gift.
I will always appreciate the safe and open space that we shared together as I explored what it meant to be a sexual being at that stage in my life, and with a patient, devoted partner no less. In the decade since we parted, it’s clear that our relationship was quite special in that way. For whatever reason, not everyone wants to dive that deep and, you know, just talk about things. In that way, you may have spoiled me. At the very least, you helped me to set the very high standards I have for my partners now.
Not that it was *just* sex. We stimulated each other on all the important levels. We challenged each other intellectually because our areas of expertise were different albeit often complimentary and we laughed a lot. There was a lot of good in those years we spent together.
But in the end, we just weren’t compatible in the long term. We wanted different things out of life.
But that wasn’t what really ripped us apart, was it?
I know that my anxiety and depression made no sense to you. I appreciate that you were somewhat honest with me about that but it didn’t help to feel like I was a nuisance to you whenever I crashed. And I crashed so hard and often then.
I know that me telling you about my sexual assault was hard for you to hear. But I don’t think I’ll ever get over how you blamed me for “allowing” it happen.
I know that my drinking got a little out of hand in the months that followed. I’m sorry for giving you that greater cause to worry; I wasn’t myself then because I’d been taken from me.
I know that it was shitty for me to cheat on you, but I was a husk of a broken human and since you already resented me for being touched by another man, I was looking to validate the constant darkness roiling inside me and push you away for good.
But even if we had managed to avoid all of that intense discomfort, we still weren’t meant to be.
There were deeper fundamental flaws to us. Like how you didn’t know if you loved me because you didn’t feel the way others told you it should feel (because you’re likely as aromantic as I am and neither of us knew that was a thing at the time). This hurt and confused me then because it didn’t follow the hetero rules of dating we’d been raised with, but I stayed with you because deep down I knew I felt the same way and for the most part, it seemed to work.
Plus, you really wanted children. And I really didn’t. I hear you’re a father now – congratulations on that. I’m so glad it’s not mine.
Speaking of, remember that time I was pregnant with your child, which I thankfully miscarried before I set up the abortion appointment? I know we weren’t officially “together” anymore, but that really sucked.
This is what I find to be one of the funniest things when I think back to you now… I can’t remember the shape of your cock, or the taste of your kiss, or the way your fingers felt on me. I barely remember the way you smelled or the sound of your voice. The nuances of your face are all but gone, and I only have vague memories of the times, both good and not so great, that we spent together.
I do, however, remember in vivid detail the night I told you about the “positive” result.
I didn’t really need to tell you – we weren’t dating anymore and I would never have kept it. I told you because the entire time I’d known you, you insisted you’d want to know if it ever happened and I respected that.
You were not kind to me that night, and it was devastating. Not because I needed you to come back to me as my lover; because you claimed to be my friend and you were anything but.
I remember too when I miscarried and shared the good…? news. You went through the motions of holding being there for me, but again, you did not make me feel welcome. Despite it being the desired outcome, it was still a traumatic experience for my body and mind to endure and again, I needed a friend.
The last thing was when I tried to get those few things of mine that were kicking around your place. I remember there were four items – a fuzzy black beret, the red Matt Nathanson CD, (one more thing that is apparently eluding me now…), and the first Game of Thrones book. (If it weren’t for that last one, I would have abandoned these trinkets but it wasn’t my book to give away.)
Do you remember how you ignored me then? How I even asked you to put my things in a bag on the front step and let me know when you weren’t home so I could come and pick them up? I wasn’t trying to trick you into letting me come over and trick you into making another baby with me.
Whether you realized (or wanted to accept?) it or not, I was finally and unequivocally over you, and had no games left to play.
It was a Tuesday night at the end of February. Do you remember? I do. It was cold. It was dark. I was snowing; big yet somehow hard clusters of ice and fluff, coating the streets in thick sheets of black and white ice. It was clear that you weren’t going to let me know when I could come by, so I took a chance and showed up unannounced. You were home. And boy, the look on your face when opened the door and saw me standing there…
While I stood tense, yet calmly in place in the doorway, you ran around erratically, trying to find the items I had conveniently listed for you in a message the week prior. I didn’t move to help you; it wasn’t my place to traipse around that house anymore.
I looked down at my feet while I waited. I saw her boots there. I looked up towards the living room. Just over the top of the couch, I saw the top of her brunette head. She must have barely breathed the whole time I was there. Very quiet little mouse, she was.
I found it curious (and indescribably liberating) to realize that I felt no sense anger or jealousy to know that she was there to bear witness to this. I said nothing; just smirked to myself.
You came down the stairs again saying you weren’t sure where the CD was. I said it was in your car, disc drive 3, but that is was fine – I really just needed the book.
I think you offered me some huff of a “Good bye” – I don’t remember what words you used, if any. I just snatched the bag of things from your hand, scoffed through my nose, and said, “Yeah,” slamming that final door behind me.
You don’t know this part, but when I got a few steps away from the door, I collapsed into tears, first knees then flat palms crashing into the frozen pavement.
But then the ice started to melt under my touch and I realized, or perhaps finally remembered, how fucking powerful I am. I picked myself up, brushed off, and headed back to my car, laughing and crying all the way a safe place – the bar where I worked then. Only two coworkers and my manager were left, bored because no one was braving the cold for a nightcap. They bought me a shot and we talked about how awesome I am.
With that shot, I washed away the last pang of anything I ever felt for you.
And then – one more thing and then I’m done, I promise – do you remember the next time we saw each other in passing? Several months later at that restaurant I helped you discover? We made the most fleeting eye contact, but neither of us acknowledged the other. I was so proud of my little heart then – it didn’t even flip once as I walked on by.
That was the last time I saw your face.
Fun fact: it was right around the exact day that our baby would have been born.
Since we haven’t exchanged any form of communication in the better part of a decade, I’m not sure if you have any idea of what it is that I’m up to these days. You were always a little too good with the internet though, so who knows – maybe you’re reading this right now.
Maybe you’ve even read some of my stories. I don’t know if you’ve noticed but you don’t feature in a single one of them because frankly, there’s really nothing left to say. And even more poignantly, there’s nothing left to feel. Despite your profound influence on my early years of exploring love and sex and heartache, it doesn’t evoke anything in me to fantasize about alternate, idealized re-writes of what we once were. I can appreciate where I started, but I feel so distant from that version me now and everything that came with it, yourself obviously included.
I also know that you and your family have been known to sit around the dinner table, roasting me in front of your guests. So that’s pretty fucked up. Sounds like you guys need to invest in some board games.
Even with that knowledge though, I hold no lingering resentment or animosity for you. The same way I don’t pine about the really pleasant memories that preceded the shitstorm either. All of it got washed away together by the same wave of catharsis when I chose with intent and purpose to let you go.
I will always appreciate what you offered me. You gave me an opportunity to explore the many crucial facets of myself in my formative years. You taught me to love. You taught me to hurt. You challenged my critical thinking processes and helped me hone my wit. Through you, I learned how to pull myself from the pits of despair if I wanted to survive. You let me discover that I’m more than capable of taking care of myself, even in the face of what feels like emotional oblivion.
Because of you, I got my first real glimpse of the power in me that would one day make me a queen.
No, I have no regrets about having chosen you as my first.
And I’m quite glad you weren’t the last.
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