olly doesn’t want to be the conduit between you and me. She was not part of my relationship with you, and she does not want to be part of the end of my relationship with you. Besides, she hates you, or, if not you, then the idea of you, and if not the idea of you, then what I did as a result of loving and being loved by you, and then as a result of loving and being left by you.
You don’t know that I know that you know I tried to kill myself two weeks ago. Or, now you know, since I sent you a link to the suicide video I made and later posted to Youtube. You broke up with me by text message, and we had promised to not break up with each other by text message, and yet here was the text, or there was the text, since I have deleted it and the 27,000 preceding text messages we exchanged during our six-and-a-half month relationship.
I had planned on saving those text messages for always, and you had planned on saving the text messages for always, and deleting the messages from my phone took seven minutes. I want to undo what I did after I did it, but the IPhone offers no take-backs, and you offer no take-backs, and I did what I thought I had to do to keep you safe, and if you had been sober when you found out, I think you would have understood, but you were not sober – which is the point, I think – and you broke up with me by text message and then took out a restraining order.
You and I were engaged. You didn’t know I was married. You knew about my children. You loved them, and called them yours, and I called them yours, and I called you mine, and the night I recorded you buying drugs and selling drugs and using drugs, I thought I would share the recording with you and say: This is not the man I want to marry, and you would say, this is not the man I want to be, and I would say, let me help you, and you would say, I love you, and then everything would be good.
But everything is not good, and Holly is driving to your house to give you what I had of yours in my house, and to get from you what you have of mine. She won’t see you. She’s asked you to leave everything on your porch. And you’ve agreed.
She texts me when she’s gotten everything from your porch. The men who live across the street had had to help her. Those same men used to watch me leave your apartment at all hours. I wondered if they knew, or thought they knew, what you and I had been doing before I had left.
Our son, Avery, knew where she was taking him. She had said to him that they were going for a drive, and Avery said, to D’s? And Holly told him yes, even though she didn’t want to tell him yes, and she tells me later that somehow Avery knew.
I do not know when I will be able to go through what you’ve given back. I do not want to take an accounting of what you’ve returned and what you’ve kept. Holly tells me that you sent me one last message and she will forward it to me later if I want to read it. I tell her to forward the message to me.
I still love Will. I just can’t overcome the other stuff. I wish all of you wonder.
I type the words Goodbye Horse into my phone and I text them to you. I delete the text from my phone’s history, as if deleting the words will keep me from thinking about them and wondering if you will respond.
You respond: Goodbye Rabbit.
You have called me rabbit since our first date. I started calling you horse after Avery stole my nickname for you: D, the first letter of your first name. I no longer remember why I picked horse, but I didn’t pick horse as in hung like a, because you are not hung like a.
I read your text and I am crying because I hear you saying Goodbye Rabbit, and even though it is Goodbye Rabbit, it is you and we are talking and I want to keep talking to you and I want you to want to keep talking to me. I feel something break open, but it is not my heart. There is nothing left of it to break.
Holly shared your last text. I still love you, too.I forgive you. I understand, and I forgive you. I needed to break myself in order to reassemble and let go of what was holding my back. I’m finally who you wanted me to be all along. Ironic. I just needed you to push me a little. I’m sorry I couldn’t let you in all the way. I was working toward our life. I just got a little lost along the way. Beautiful endings need beautiful mistakes. Maybe someday there will be a sequel. But if not, we were a great book. I love you, D.
I am still terribly hurt. I think we can eventually be friends despite my rules.
I know I hurt you. Hurting you was the furthest thing from my mind. I just thought I had to save you. And if I could save you, then changing my relationship with Holly would be OK because I’m finally learning that sometimes the easy way isn’t the best way.
I left you alone so that you could cope with whatever you needed. I cannot be with you as my partner. But I can see a friendship again eventually, or we can consider that we just pressed pause for a few weeks.
I needed to learn to love me while falling in love with you and our promise and trying to normalize everything for Avery. We were just trying to ease him into two homes. Maybe someday we’ll get a chance to fall in love with our true selves. Or not. If the only thing that came out of all of this was me finding me, then I’m OK with that. You were not an affair. We were real. We were real rabbits like velveteen rabbits.
And I know that once you are real, you can’t become unreal. It lasts for always. We were real. We are real. Even if this is all we have – and even if what we had is all we get – then everything would have been worth it. I would have been worth it. You would have been worth it. Our time together. Even the relationship I think Holly and I are building. Real. Can’t be unreal.
I think it’s a draw.
Avery asks for you. My heart asks for you. My head runs away and my friends wish I had let them in months ago. You know everything now. If one day we can be friends, then that’s a good day.
I don’t ever doubt your love for me. However, you are/were married. You had no right to bring me into your marriage and lie to me about it. But I forgive you. I can’t see you yet, and I am not sure when I can.
I’ve learned a lot in the last three weeks. Holly says after 12 years, she wouldn’t have thought it possible for me to change, but when you’re left with nothing, and that’s what you have to work with, then you have no choice but to examine what you like and don’t like about yourself and pick the parts to keep and the parts to lose.
I think you have more growing to do still. I am pleased that you are finding yourself and an inner peace; a friend within yourself.
I’ve found balance and yoga and an amazing support network. Maybe it’s not forgiveness and trust that are difficult; maybe it’s love.
I can’t imagine how you held anything together living a life with us both as close as you did. You knew I would find out if we were forever, right? How did you think I would handle that? Or how were you going to tell me?
We couldn’t do IVF if we weren’t married. We stayed together basically for Aurora. And we’ve already talked about divorcing in January.
You realize I could have handled that, right? So many times I knew there was something more and you weren’t telling me.
I thought I’d have to tell you on his birthday. I couldn’t see a way to celebrate his birthday without you there. I couldn’t think of how to explain that to you. So I thought I’d tell you both at the same time.
That wouldn’t have worked. I would have left you right where you stood with a scene similar to the roadside.
I wanted to desperately tell you, but you said you’d been hurt by a married man before.
Who can say if I could deal with it later. You should have told me then or walked away. Now I’ve been hurt once again by a married man.
And it was for the kids and you had had issues accepting the second baby and I couldn’t unmake her. And I didn’t want to unmake her.
I am the one with issues now. I’ve been contemplating therapy.
It’s not so bad. I didn’t trust that me and my baggage would outweigh our fights. I fought because my judgment was gone. I slept 15 hours total our last two weeks.
I’m glad you came out for the better. I still have a lot of repairing to do. I asked if you were OK, but I never would have looked this deep into it. I never would have guessed that this was your life because you weren’t letting me in.
I thought you had enough to deal with. You have to be strong for a lot of people. I needed to be strong for you. I was afraid you were going to die. And you’d joke about your head and I’d just want to cry and scream and tell you to stop.
Lies hurt people. They don’t help them.
I didn’t think about it when we were together. I feel we’re married on paper and nowhere else. I withheld information from you, yes, but the relationship is how I described it.
Did Holly know I didn’t know.
Now is when I needed to meet you. You were a great partner, and I’m sure you’re 1,000 times better now. I’m sure you feel free and new. I wish I had just reinvented/ rediscovered/accepted myself.
I know. The thing is, D, that person you think you can be, I’ve seen him all along. He’s who I fell in love with and planned a life with and I had a hard time when he wasn’t there because he’s wonderful and amazing and the other you is escaping something. I started thinking you were escaping me. And I couldn’t figure out how to talk to you about it.
You should learn to live with yourself and continue this healing process, as will I.
We kept having the same fight.
I was never escaping you. I think the fights came from underlying stuff.
Maybe you were escaping you, then.
You were acting irrational.
I was irrational. I just wanted to sleep.
And telling me things were OK and I knew they weren’t.
I needed to sleep.
I suggested that once, that we just stay in and sleep. We never did.
No, and that’s really all I wanted. That and you in my life with my friends doing the things I do with my friends because I think sometimes you need a little push outside of your comfort zone.
Well, this is who and where we are right now. We need to work toward a friendship. I’d like to meet Will someday. This is how I have to think of it in my head right now.
You’ve had to change and tailor a lot to speak with me. Thanks for talking with me. I will need more answered eventually, but this is all I can handle tonight.
Your ex-boyfriend doesn’t live here anymore. You’ll see.
PS: The pills were just that once. I didn’t want you to have to worry and think that I snort stuff all of the time. But, I’m sure the audio told you that already if you listened.
There were lies on both sides. It was everything I feared. But you couldn’t tell me about it. We all deal with stuff our own way. I forgave the lie. I feared what the lie meant, but I forgave it.
We all do stupid things to protect others I guess.
I can’t listen to it. Except for about 20 minutes of the audio from the morning before your party, I haven’t and I won’t listen to it.
What’s in the 20 minutes?
The 20 minutes? You snorting pills. You making fun of me. You ignoring my 2 a.m. text. I couldn’t listen to any more.
I do not say anything about you telling your friends that there was someone you wanted to get to know better, someone you wanted to get high with, someone with whom you wanted to see what could and would develop.
I need to process this. I don’t remember making fun of you. I’m sorry. But I was high most likely. Not that it’s OK either way. Send the audio if you’d like? I may learn something about myself I don’t see right now. Or which I choose not to acknowledge. My head is full, rabbit.
Goodnight, D. Thank you for talking, and for loving me and Avery. If you watched what my friends call the suicide-that-wasn’t video you know I wanted him in your life.
I know. Thank you for that.
Holly has watched me text with you for more than three hours. She doesn’t ask who I am talking to. I don’t tell her I am talking to you.
You have a scar the size of a newborn’s fingerprint on the right side of your body. You told me that when you were born, your left hand was connected to your body. Your hand had to be cut away. The way your arm must have formed and grown, even in the womb you protected your heart.
* * * * *
William Henderson has written for local and national newspapers and magazines, including the Advocate; the Boston Globe; and the Seattle Post-Intelligencer. He earned a Bachelor of Science in Journalism & Communications from the University of Florida, and a Master’s in Fine Arts from Emerson College, where he studied creative non-fiction. He earned a Hearst Award in profile writing in 1998, and various awards from the Washington Press Association, Florida Press Association, and the New England Press Association. Currently, he is a freelance writer, editor, and copyeditor, and a full-time father to his children, Avery and Aurora. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and through his blog, Henderson House of Cards.
His other Snake-Oil contributions are here.