The one he left behind

A letter to the one he left behind, because the words unspoken are sometimes the truest – and the easiest to hold on to.


You weren’t bad. You did not fail to make me happy. You’ve impressed me in ways you’ve always refused to listen to. You are not ugly. I wasn’t miserable. I thanked you in many ways until the end – to how you’ve helped me break out of my shell and how you’ve always been a steady piece.

These are some responses I have for your questions. But I wanted to tell you things from my perspective as well – because it seems this has quickly become a thing where you’re a perfect being and I’m shit. We failed. I failed you first, but we both failed.

You are not lacking; we were just not complementing each other in a way that mattered. You are worthy of being loved; just not by me. There is nothing wrong with you; I just wasn’t the one you needed. We were too different. Frankly, we didn’t need each other – but we’ve romanticized that in a way that we did, because it looked good on paper.

We didn’t look good on paper. You were perfectly fine on your own, managing yourself all good and well when I first met you.

But we were in love, that part was definitely true. It’s just that, everything started to burn as complacency set in. Love started to wilt, but none of us wanted to move against it. We were literally slow dancing in a burning room, like that John Mayer song.

The best feet forward that eventually turned up to be lies? I’ve looked past them, dear. You know how I am.

“Because you’re the one that knows my family – you’re the one who exists in the home,” you said. And what did that mean?

To be honest, I wasn’t sure what that meant during the time either. But I knew very well that was a bad omen.

Maybe I stopped caring along the way, because I couldn’t feel anything anymore. I felt like a moneybag; figuratively and literally. I also felt that eventually, once my purpose is spent, I will be thrown away. I’ve even told you that, but you ignored me because you were struggling. And maybe I wasn’t, because yeah – I was in a good place anyway. I just told myself I shouldn’t be selfish.

There are questions I couldn’t answer – like, why should someone get hurt? Or why should you get hurt?

You weren’t the only one. I was hurting, too. In ways you weren’t able to see because you were too busy ignoring the cues. Too busy not to realize that I needed you, too. Too busy wanting to be the one to be pleased – wanting to be the one touched. And you knew me well, dear. You knew very well that that wasn’t the kind of love I needed. I needed you to be passionate. To be true. I needed warmth. I needed you in the night. But it was always about you.

I knew the stagnation happens – but does it really have to be a constant? Maybe that’s what I meant about things being too marriage-y. It was a rush to reality that I did not want. And I’ve told you that. Maybe you never heard, or maybe you’ve swept it under a rug like I did.

What was so complicated about keeping the one you love stay in love with you, and for once stop thinking that the world owes you? But I’ve looked past that. I tried. I kept trying. Trying to stay in love. Tried to. And you cannot lie that I did.

The thing was, love should not have been about trying so hard. And maybe that was my fault as well – I should have told you so we could have tried together. But is that even right? Should love even be about trying?

I should have said this wasn’t working, but I tried to fix it on my own; because I knew what you would say. That you were too broken. That you had feelings. That you didn’t have anyone else. And I guess that was another reality I had to take. That was fine.

You did not deserve that stress. You did not deserve me telling you this wasn’t working because I needed more. Who was I to demand more when my cries were insignificant compared to all the things you had on your plate? So I tried to move past that and tried in silence.

You said you felt things falling apart, but you said nothing. How can you blame me, and ask me if something is wrong with you? Why did you think you had to be all that – all that sheen and perfection, for me to stay in love with you? You didn’t have to be. I needed youYou, without all the expectations. I needed honesty. Attention. Feeling. A moment where we just drop everything on the ground and not care.

Towards the end, we’ve lost touch. Completely. There was no feeling. The feeling died a long time ago and you know that; but we never tried. That was the saddest part, we weren’t trying because we weren’t in love.

And I guess at the end, that is when you realized I mattered, too. This is a feeling I’m getting used to now, to be honest. People realizing too late. I haven’t felt more numb than before. And I was a dreamer. Dreamers should never be numbed down because the realists find them unreasonable. I needed a realist to keep me on the ground – not kill the essence of my existence.

I am sorry if you think I am a liar, but I guess you can think what you want to think. It doesn’t matter now – it’s just sad that you’ve shrunken me to a thing much less than a doormat, and you expect me to glorify you for your pain. How is that fair? How can you be such a binary creature? How can you, who ought to stay with me for the longest time find me to be disgusting?

But I don’t mind. Maybe I am disgusting. But I wish you would understand what happened and why it did. I never intended for it to go this way. And to be honest with you, I’ve always planned on coming home and talking to you about it finally – because I wanted it to work. Maybe all I needed was a pause.

But in the middle of that hiatus, someone came. Someone… raw. Real. Severe. Unnervingly honest. I was an aspect of deprivation drawn to the warmth of truth. Of awakening. Of someone who dreams, but is real. I’ve been dead for the longest time, dear. Knowing him was the first time I’ve felt that I wasn’t.

I was moving towards him in a way unbeknownst to me. It was different. It felt… real. I was real the whole time. I was honest. I was brave. I didn’t have to be that guy that had to be a prince. I felt free. From expectations – from everything. All I had to be was myself, and that was completely fine. And I was desirable. I’ve been empowered. To be honest, I’m not sure if this is it – but I feel that it is. I am but hopeful this turns out to be for the best.

And the thing about that is, I’ve fallen. Hard. I wasn’t sure if I wanted that to happen, but I did. And I am really sorry.

I’m writing this so you would understand, that I did not mean to hurt you the way I did.

I’m writing to you not because I wanted to tell you off, but for you to understand how I feel; how I felt when we were together. That it’s just not you who had feelings – I had them, too.

I’m writing this so you realize where I’ve failed; how much I wish I could make it up to you, but without any real way for me to do so.

I’m writing to you to hopefully answer your questions. I’m writing to let you know that I’ve read your messages, and maybe if I bared my mind, you would at least remember me as someone who stopped holding things in and told you the truth.

I apologize for the way we ended. I know there is no turning back, but know that for the record, we mattered.

I am sorry if I didn’t try hard enough. I am sorry if I stopped believing in the idea of us. I am sorry for wanting too much. I am sorry for wanting to be wanted. I am sorry for wanting to be touched. I am sorry we lost the spark. I am sorry I put too many good feats forward, but not the bad ones. I am sorry for being a pushover.

Before the record breaks, know that I loved you just as much. The sad part is that it died as quickly as it started – when we chose to lose the magic in light of just staying together. Because it was nice to have someone. I guess I thought we would always try to make each other fall in love, even if we were already in love. But that was too magical. Maybe too dreamy. But I’ve realized now that that’s not impossible.

I hope you find him – the one you need. I am sorry if I cannot be that person anymore. I honestly tried, but I am allowing you to believe what you want to believe. I am just hoping when you find the one – make him feel good. Tell him everything upfront – be honest. Tell him what you really like doing, and not tell him what he wants to hear. Make him feel like he matters to you the way you matter to him. As hard as you could. Go in and give him everything you’ve got. Because I know you can.

I might not have worked – we might not have worked. But the next time around, I know you could. Do not rush if it doesn’t need to be rushed. Let it happen. Let it matter and dream. Dream as hard as you can. Start believing that things can be magical no matter how mundane they are, and stop looking at the bad. Stop thinking that you’re not good enough, because you are. Although keep in mind that what you’re good at is not always for everyone.

I guess it’s too late for us now, dear. I think this is where we stop blaming each other, and accept things for what they are. I think this is where things ought to finally stop.


XIX: I Don’t Know — The Art of Letting You Go

One leaves in confusion, just as the other is left unsure.

Damian and Louise… in a boiling point. (Cool, I’m naming my characters now!)

And I still suck at introductions. Haha!

Louise has written a letter last night and leaves it on the nightstand, where she’s sure you’d find once you get up and open your eyes.

She gets up and leaves with a stuffed backpack, hastily packed but quietly, in hopes of not waking you up.

You wake up and rub your eyes, wary, noticing that she isn’t beside you. You palm at her side of the bed, but it isn’t warm as you expected.

You get up slowly and notice something on the nightstand. You grab the folded but welcoming letter on the stand and glare at it. You hold it in your hands while your knuckles whiten, crumpling the paper a bit.

* * *      * * *      * * *


Remember that time when you said you loved me for the first time?

That was two years ago, I think – and then you left just as hastily so, for about 5 weeks. When you came back, you were completely engrossed in a whole lot of different things, and I was aptly abhorred when I was starting to figure out that none of those things involved me.

I wanted to be involved, of course – you said you loved me and I said it back, and I thought it was a mutual understanding that we were to start working on something together. Technically, that should be it, but I didn’t want to demand.

You would always be on your phone, smiling, laughing, and then suddenly leaving me alone with no idea where you’re actually going. Were you cheating? Were you falling in love with someone else?

I was there, watching you, every day being shattered, as I see you smiling genuinely against your phone screen. Until one day you left your phone out and I saw it there, a message previewed clearly… someone sending you a message that they will just brush their teeth, preceded by a word of endearment.

I didn’t want to know – but I knew enough that I’ve already lost you. But I felt that maybe you’d come around and realise what you’re losing.

So I waited… for nothing.

Until one day after about 8 months, I realised I was tired of all that bull and asked you straight: “Is there something out there for us anymore?” – I asked this with a nervous voice, crackling in my own uncertainty, my palms all sweaty and shaky.

You hugged me right then – quiet, with no actual answer.

So I talked to clear the air. I said: “Because I don’t really know what we are…”

And remember what you said?

“Do what you want,” with a calm voice.  You didn’t say it like you were mad at me for asking, but a gentle letting-go, the way I understood it.

I was shattered – because I expected at least that you would’ve held me back, or at least got mad at me – punched me, or something (then I accuse you of battery, because lol).

But I choked and swallowed my heart back in.

I ran away – for a weekend, so I can take a breather. I went across the country so I can be away from you. When I came back, I started to entertain someone else – where you never really had anything against either way.

So I took the hint (finally) – that we were really over.

And since that day I asked you, I never heard anything.

I started meeting other people, because I was completely convinced we were over. You found out I was starting to terribly fall in love with someone who sounded like an angel (literally). Someone who depicted the perfect stranger, awkward yet adorable – to whom everything just felt right.

You started jumping around and panicking and not knowing what to do. You started trying to take me back – begging, and I just wouldn’t hear it. You were terrifying me with actions, leaving around clues that you were hurting yourself. I felt it – I wanted to save you, my Messiah syndrome almost taking over – but I was so blinded by the attention that I was begging from you for so long that I was getting from someone else. I have found my saving grace, and there was no way to convince me to come back.

Then some few months ago, I went out alone and been away for days, if you still remember. That was when I realised that what I needed wasn’t a saving grace, but a fresh start.

Apart from being happy with my saving grace, the desire that I had to get rid of the memory of you was still the biggest deal. Although it brings me happiness to think of what we’ve had before (no matter how small it was), the things that I had to go through for you – the hurt still outweighed the happiness. It was heavy against my heart and was heavy against my soul, and I was beyond prostrated.

So I had to break myself and let my saving grace go – because it was unfair for him to have to fix something that is so broken. To never really have something complete; to have something that comes with excess baggage.

Afterwards, I’ve been trying – trying real hard to push through. I tried – but we’ve still went back to our old adage – to our old misunderstanding, and I fear we will never really be rid of it.

I don’t think you will ever understand why I love computer games, why I love talking, and why I love to write – why I love to read and why I like talking about feelings – why my emotions fleet and why I’m ridiculously into you and how hard it is to know that you’re mine in paper, but you never really are. This uncertainty sets my whole world into chaos, and I know you’ll never understand why I want assurance, especially from you. Because I don’t want to be with someone who only holds my hand when no one else is looking. To be with someone who claims to love me unconditionally, but only as long as no one else knows.

The thing is that, if I wanted to be understood, of course, I had to understand you.

That’s the thing. I don’t understand you. And I think I will never.

I will never understand why you prefer your solitude over my presence, and why you’re more engrossed with your phone than my idle chatter. I will never understand why you would prefer to go to places with other people rather than take me along, and why you love to have people looking at you, when all you ever say is that I’m the only one who’s supposed to be looking.

I will never understand why you have this unknown desire to have people chase after you only to break their hearts afterwards, and how you act all innocent, saying that “it’s not like that.”  I will never understand why you helplessly desire the things you don’t have – but when you finally get them, twisted around your little finger and hangs tight no matter how hard you shake them off, you’re instantly indifferent. How you love the chase but hate the runaround, and how you love the challenge, but never the reward.

I will never understand why you keep pictures of other people on your phone, but never pictures of us. Our pictures, or even pictures of myself and myself alone. You would tell me you’d rather stash them somewhere… why? So other people will not see that you’re in a caboodle with me. Am I ugly? Is it because of my crooked teeth and my broken nose? Is it because I’m a big scandal? I guess these are things I want to leave unanswered – to spare myself.

I will never understand why you prefer to consume all your energy on things that have hurt me before – why you have to consume your passion on other people you have so pleasantly desired before and slap them hard against my face, as if the thought that you’re still trying to grab their attention isn’t punishment enough. I will never understand why you make beautiful things come up out of your small-time flings and perhaps, maybe, one night stands.

I know you see me as someone with great fortitude, but god, don’t you ever feel how hard it is to mask how destroyed I am by your self-proclaimed innocent ways of hurting me? I’m not the one to make demands so I’ve always kept my thoughts in check and try my best to lie – to make things seem convincing in making you stop. You’ve seen me cry a well for you, but the thing is, you only try to understand me when I cry – but never afterwards. You tend to go back to your old ways, and it annoys me that no matter how hard I try, you’re never really going to be in tune with my feelings. And I know it annoys you how in touch I am with my emotions, even though I’ve learned the hard way that in dealing with you, I must not be emotional.

But I would like to stay true to myself. I want to feel things, and I want the people I love to feel them too – because feelings are beautiful, albeit at times, tiring. I don’t want to be purely objective. I don’t want to be someone else’s secret, and someone else’s play toy. And see – if you’re even reading up to here, I don’t think you would still understand why you piss me off so much. And I don’t even know why, myself! I just throw out words here and there, but I know I still can’t pinpoint it myself. I can say simple things: how you’re brilliant, yes, but you’re also a dick. But that’s as far as I could go.

Anyway, the saddest thing now is that I became expectant… again. Literally the same mistake I did when you suddenly withdrew all your emotions for me. I expected you to change, and you did – but there’s still something… off. My trust issues would not wane, no matter how much I want them to.

But I still want you. I don’t know. I guess that’s my fault – but I’ve long since figured that we’re drifting apart anyway – why don’t we just rush and get it over with? We will never understand each other. You’re made of metal and myself of ice. I will be the first one to break, so please be kind.

What the hell am I saying?

You know what? However much I get mad and how much I try to tell you that you’re crap, I still am in love with you, and I don’t think I will ever learn how to let you go.

I’m hopelessly terrified that you only say you’re in love with me because it’s convenient, because I will always be here, and I will always be available.

But what if it’s no longer convenient, and it’s no longer the same between us? What if you’re away or I’m away and you go back to your old, cheating ways?

I guess I am wrong to hold out anymore, because I don’t think I can trust you ever again, and maybe that’s why I’m this confused.

What are we really? Where do I go from here? Where do you intend to go, and what are your real intentions?

I’m so messed up right now and I’m not sure why I’m even asking you questions when I don’t really want to hear the answers.

Well, shit.

Good morning, by the way. I made breakfast.



I choose not come back, but stop me if you will. I don’t know how.

I don’t know.


Damian finishes reading, unaware of what he’s feeling. It was a clash of everything – and all he ever thought about was… he knows staying together will never be good enough, but he doesn’t really know what would be good enough.

And then he drops the letter, running out of their bedroom door. He runs downstairs to find the breakfast she has prepared for him – two eggs fried in a heart shape and three strips of bacon. There was a small note beside the plate that says “Hang in there”. Damian grabs it angrily and flips it around. “I don’t know, but I’ll try to hang on, too” it says on the back, her handwriting apparently hasty, suggesting she wrote this hastily as she left.

She’s terribly confused, Damian thought, his tears inching to the sides of his eyes.

He punches the table and the plate of eggs jump. He doesn’t know why he’s so mad. He punches again, harder this time. The plate falls on the floor and shattered to pieces, the egg yolks bleeding out.

He looks around to find the framed artworks they’ve both hung by the stairs of their apartment. He squinted his tears back as he breathed out “I don’t know the art of letting you go…

* * *

This write-up was the result of being inspired by Tori Kelly’s song – Art of Letting You Go. Please look her up! A sample of the song is above via soundcloud, but I augmented it a bit into a male version to keep things in line.