Dear Darwin,

I’m writing this with some embarrassment, but total sincerity.

We met at a strange point in my life. I had just escaped from my decade-long romantic relationship with an end-stage alcoholic. I had just started to unpack the toxicity of that relationship as well as the impacts of growing up with a closeted alcoholic, my father. I knew I was damaged, but I’d only begun to understand the role that codependency had played in my life to that point and had little to no understanding of how to start building a healthy relationship with myself, let alone others. I was lonely and lost. I had no business bringing my baggage anywhere – let alone into your life.

We met on an online dating platform. We had a lot in common and the conversation flowed easily. You were smart, insightful, and interesting. Handsome too, from what I could see of your profile photos. Your story was familiar. You had lost a woman who you described as both the love of your life and a drug addict.

We exchanged letter-like messages for about a month then decided to meet up at a local restaurant.

In person, the attraction was instant. A total babe. Besides the physical I also saw my reflection – rage, my hurt, my shame. It was confusing. I was attracted to you in a way I had forgotten I could be. For the first time in a decade I felt something like hope, like excitement, to connect with someone else. Subconsciously, I had the misguided idea that we would save each other from the unrelenting torment that only someone who has loved a person lost in the addiction abyss can know.

I still remember the 5 hours we sat in that restaurant as one of the best conversations of my life. I felt seen in a way that’s challenging to explain. That truthfully, I still don’t.

Then you ghosted me.

I was even more confused. I felt like a shadow again. Unseen and dark. I had attached significant meaning to our interactions. You had become symbolic of a sense of belonging. I had assigned too much meaning to a “relationship” I had with someone I honestly and truly knew very little about. I’m sorry about that. You didn’t deserve that responsibility.

In hindsight, your withdrawal was for the best. The experience with you forced me into a greater commitment to my recovery and mental health. I had to admit that looking for prince charming to slay my dragons was not realistic. I had to slay them myself. And slowly, I started.

If I’m honest, I still carry you with me. From time to time I look you up, applaud your accomplishments and contributions to the community. I’m not sure why I do this, I’ve long given up the idea that we will have any kind of relationship or friendship. Maybe I still feel you as the mirror image of my pain. I hope, like me you have started to slay your dragons too.

I hope that in writing this, I can let you go.

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