“… Give it all just half a chance, keep an open heart. You can’t be happy the way you are. You should let somebody love you, let a true love find you, let somebody love you, it’s not so hard to do if you try…”
Those are lyrics from a song by Phyllis Hyman that I used to listen to over and over again when I was trying to get through the pain of my last breakup with Leon. Listening to the song now and going through all my letters have brought back so many memories. I will never be able to express in words what I was feeling back then but I did find a picture that says it all.
This photo was taken after one of our breakups during our first year of dating… a time when you’d expect nothing but happiness in a new relationship and all I was feeling was pain and trying to hide it from everyone.
But Leon was feeling pain too and I knew it; so my pain was compounded with the feeling that I was adding to his heartache each time we broke up. I knew he cared because other than these incidents with Gail, he always very loving, sweet and extremely generous with me. And he always shared his dreams and plans for our future together. He did things and said things to make me feel like I meant the world to him… other than that one huge infidelity thing. And I knew I wasn’t the blame for his cheating, but I felt like I understood what he was going through and I wanted to be there for him. He was a widower and had lost his first wife and his older sister around the same time.
He worked so hard for everything he had accomplished in life and he was now on trial for bribery and facing a possible prison term. There was a very real possibility that he could lose everything that mattered to him, including his daughters. I understood the pressure he was under and it was just heartbreaking to see him suffer like that. But at the same time I needed to protect myself. Neither Gail nor I deserved to be his emotional dumping ground. We broke up again; and about a month later when he started calling again, I shared my sentiments with him in the following letter…
Forgive me for being so dispassionate when I speak to you these days. It’s just that I find it hard to feel for you anymore. When I first met you, I thought you were good and special. I opened up to you and was finally ready to live and give all that I had to give. But you took all the love I gave knowing you never intended to love me back. From the moment you first placed that gold chain around my neck until the time you gave me your other woman’s tuna sandwich (yes, tuna sandwich… you read that right), you never meant me any good. You have played with my life and my emotions from the start, making promises you never intended to keep. My love has never meant anything to you. It wasn’t even enough for you.
You wanted not only my love but my undying faith, devotion and trust; and you even believed you had to do nothing to deserve those things. You just wanted them… unwarranted. You make it too hard to be happy with you. You expect more out of a relationship than you are willing to give. You want loyalty but you won’t be loyal. You want honesty but you won’t be honest. You raise doubt but you won’t answer questions. You want faithfulness but you won’t be faithful. You want emotional support but you cause nothing but emotional pain. You want true love but you give love falsely. If you can’t give me all your love, I don’t want any of it.
You have done so much damage to this relationship and have been forgiven so many times. Even after all the lies, cheating and broken promises, I came back to you with my own promise to forget the past and give you all my love and trust; but that meant nothing to you and you didn’t even try. Again with no shame or discretion, you betrayed me. It’s a sordid pattern—a vicious, never-ending cycle. It took me awhile but I now realize that you want a woman to love you more than she loves herself—more than life itself. That is something I will never do. I did love you dearly, but your lies, your cheating, your hypocrisy and betrayal have finally taken their toll on my heart.
You must know that the Lord, who you get down on your knees and pray to every night, won’t allow you to keep hurting people the way you do. You can’t keep asking for forgiveness and then turn around and keep doing the same thing. I believe your god will change whatever heart he has to change in order to stop the pain. My only prayer was for the heartache to stop; so when you refused to let God change your heart, He answered my prayers and changed mine; and you can’t hurt me anymore.
There isn’t enough love in my heart to come running back to your empty promises. The love that I feel for you now is a love that allows me to accept you for who you are and move on. I have done all that I can do for us. I can’t love you the way you want to be loved and you don’t know how to love me. You really don’t know what love is.
My stomach turns when I think of all the disrespect you have shown me over the last year. How can you kiss me goodbye and call another woman over as soon as I leave, and then claim to love me? How can you greet me with a kiss knowing another woman hadn’t long left your arms, and then claim to love me? How can you let me climb in your bed behind another woman knowing how wrong that is, and then claim to love me? How can you openly disrespect me in front of your children and family, and then claim to love me?
Even when I knew something was going on with you and Gail and simply asked you to be discreet, you wouldn’t listen. A man will only carry on like that when he doesn’t care about the women involved.
I’ve thought night after night about coming back and I just don’t think I can. The only reason I would even consider it at this point would be my longing to show you that I would always be there for you no matter what happened. I wanted you to know that you could have been stripped of everything and I’d still want you. But, fortunately for me, I don’t have to prove anything to you.
P.S. I played that song by Phyllis Hyman because I thought it had a very important message in it for you… You really should let somebody love you. Only next time don’t abuse the love.