Dear Old Flame

Dear Old Flame, 

Do you remember how we first met? It was an impromptu double date. One of your roommates was trying to hook up with one of my best friends, and my apartment was off campus. I pierced my nose that night, just for the fun of it, and you stopped by for an hour or so. We ended up getting thrown together several more times over the next few months, and before I realized what was happening, I had fallen in love with you. 

You, well, you did not feel the same way. 

And that’s where this letter comes in. 

I need to thank you. 

I need to tell you how much I appreciate the time we spent together. 

I need to tell you how I’ve forgiven you for breaking my heart. 

And most importantly, I need to tell you how grateful I am that you walked away. 

So sit back, grab one of your non-gmo, whey-filled, lean energy shakes, and read carefully. 

First, let me say thank you. Thank you for saving me from myself. When I met you, I was in a dark place. My depression was at its peak, and I was fighting daily to live. 

You swooped in and taught me that it’s okay to love myself. You helped me rebuild the pieces of myself that I had ripped or let other people rip away. You encouraged me, took me back to church, and never gave up on me. 

I will never be able to thank you enough for your role in helping me break out of the dark chains of depression and anxiety. 

Second, our time together brought me much more joy than it did pain. You made me laugh. You taught me how to cook a new dish. You instilled joy and laughter in everything you did. It was like magic, watching you work your way into my life. You quickly took over and taught me all there was to know about love and life and navigating my own feelings. 

I still think fondly of our time together. I read an article somewhere that we all have three great loves: first love, hard love, and forever love. You were my hard love—it was fast and intense and full of memorable moments. Hard love teaches you lessons and prepares you for your forever love—I can certainly agree that you did both of those things.  

And of course, no love story would be a true love story without someone’s heart breaking. This time, it was mine. 

In our eight months together, you broke my heart twice. The first time when I found out you were dating another girl, while dating me. Anyone else would have probably walked away after the first heartbreak, but I was living in the clouds. I thought I could change your mind. I thought I could make you want me in your life forever. I thought, and I hoped. 

Then, you completely shattered my heart when you made it clear I was not enough to cause you to change your plans. Talk about a reality check. All those feelings of anxiety and depressions, of never feeling good enough—they came running back with full force in the weeks after you left. 

But the new me, the one you helped put back together, she was strong enough to face it this time. 

And that leads us to something I should have said ten years ago: 

I forgive you.  

Although you took a 2x4 to my heart, I was able to remain upright, because you had taught me to love myself. And for that, I will always be thankful. 

If you are still reading, this next part may be a little hard to hear. But I need to say it. And honestly, you should hear it. 

Once upon a time, I dreamed of waking up to you every morning, of growing old by your side. I had all these fantasies about what love is and should be, that I missed every sign you gave that you were not in the same place I was, that you were not that person for me. I couldn’t see you weren’t emotionally invested or willing to uproot your whole life just to be with me. At the time, that feeling was the end of my world. I hated you for leaving and not wanting me to come with you. I thought you had grown to love me enough in those last few months. I thought we were meant to be together forever. 

But two years later, when I met my husband, I understood how a good relationship should work. I understood that both parties had to be teammates, that they had to be willing to work on things in the relationship—even if it means changing your life. I understood there was a reason you walked away, and I am still so grateful you did. 

My life would be beyond different had you kept me hanging on. I would have missed my forever love, and the beautiful life we have built together. I don’t even want to imagine walking this daily road without him and our two children. We’ve suffered severe loss during the course of our ten years together, but even in our struggles, he is the man I see in my future, the one I love with all my heart and soul. 

I hear you got married and are expecting your own miracle any day now. I haven’t reached out, nor will I, but I often think of you and wonder if life has been as good to you as it has me. I hope it has, truly, I do. We both deserve our happily ever after—I know I got mine. 

 With gratitude, 
The Girl You Left Behind

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Taylon Steele is a wannabe blogger/writer/dreamer who spends her days in a classroom teaching high school photography. She writes about love and loss, about motherhood and teaching, and honestly, whatever is on her heart. When she has time, Taylon reads—she has a goal of reading 100 books a year. Colleen Hoover, Kandi Steiner, and Tarynn Fisher are three of her go-to favs. She enjoys spending time with her family, being behind the camera, and expressing herself through writing. She lives in South Arkansas with her husband, four year old, three year old, and two dogs.