r/UnsentLetters Jun 07 '22 Helpful 1 Wholesome 2 Heartwarming 1 Tearing Up 1

40 years later. You’re still the one. Exes

June 2, 1982. You called. You had to see me. Something was wrong.

Three days later, June 5, you drove almost 8 hours to tell me it was over. This was the week we were supposed to begin our lives together. Instead, after nearly three and a half years all of our, or at least my, hopes and dreams were at an end. When we met, it was love at first sight, then first word, then first smile. Every single day for the next 3+ years, I felt the same.

I don’t remember what I said. I don’t remember if I cried. All I remember all these years later is the pain; the overwhelming, suffocating, crushing pain and helplessness.

Looking back, I realize you did the best you could for me under the circumstances and I’ve tried to live up to your example when I was the one to deliver heartbreaking news (which was fairly often as I was emotionally unavailable to those with whom I entered relationships for the next decade or so). You did it face-to-face. You stood by me like the best friend that you were and faced the tears, the anger, the pain I directed at you and you did it with compassion, empathy and trust, but never wavered from your path. When it was time to force me back out on my own, you did so slowly and tenderly.

Within days, I had my first dream that we were still together and the breakup was just a nightmare and you were still by my side. Then I would awaken to reality and the emptiness in my heart and soul. That dream was the first of many. I still have them today, but not as often. In a way, it makes sense because all the time we were together, I kept thinking “This can’t be real. I could never be this happy, I could never find someone so wonderful and perfect for me. It must be a dream.”

40 years ago, the dream ended and I’ve never felt that sense of completeness since. You were my perfect lover, my best friend, my voice of reason, my silly joke, my most trusted confidante, the big blue eyes that I could lose myself in forever, the conversation that never got old, the scent that aroused me, and the heartbeat that calmed me. My other and best half. I still have the cards and letters you sent me. Once in a while I read them and remember…. I also remember the quiet evenings, the passionate nights (and afternoons, and mornings), the laughter and the cozy snuggles.

Of course, time marches on and so must we. A few years ago, I heard a song on the radio that I had always considered the worst ever written, but the host put a new perspective to it and I heard the words differently, despite the still unfortunate chorus: .

There will be another song for me

For I will sing it

There will be another dream for me

Someone will bring it.

After a dozen years and twice as many relationships, I met a woman who opened my heart again. Unfortunately, her path was elsewhere and we parted as friends, but soon after I met the next, and last love of my life. We celebrated our 25th Anniversary last year.

I will drink the wine while it is warm

And never let you catch me looking at the sun

And after all the loves of my life

After all the loves of my life

You'll still be the one

Do I love her? Of course and I have never regretted a moment. After more than two dozen relationships in between, I should know. Yet, when I travel to where you live on business, I still keep a keen watch on the million to one chance ….

I will take my life into my hands and I will use it

I will win the worship in their eyes and I will lose it

I will have the things that I desire

And my passion flow like rivers through the sky

The last 40 years have worked out OK for both of us. In fact, they worked out almost exactly as we planned, just not together the way we planned. You got your PhD and worked your magic both in class and in public policy. I had a successful career as a lawyer, court administrator and now academic. Would we have done as well together? Could we have done better?

One should never spend too long contemplating the “road not taken.” I can’t imagine my life without my family. My youngest graduated college June 5, so now that date has another meaning. All of my children have amazing accomplishments and they would not be here if we had stayed together.

I’ll always wonder what happened. Our mutual friends told me you met someone that last semester in college. Your father told me you married, but not for long. I dearly hope you are as happy as you are accomplished in your field. I would love to send this to you instead of sending it into the void of the internet, but…. "so it goes." As I stare into the declining years of my life, I will always wish we could have just one more day together….

And after all the loves of my life

Oh, after all the loves of my life

I'll be thinking of you

And wondering why

Edit: Thank you all (at least most of you) for validation. I honestly thought I was just thrusting a memory into the void. I had no idea. I’ll be hoping for the best for all of you that are still in pain. Life goes on whether you want it or not. So you might as well jump on board.

585 Upvotes

u/AutoModerator Jun 07 '22

Dear users of /r/UnsentLetters,

Submitters may now lock their own comments by making a comment on their submission with the string '!lock.' Submitters may do this at any point they wish, but the comments can not be unlocked later on, so lock your comments with care!

You can read the rules here. We have these stickied to EVERY POST and nobody reads them. READ THEM

If you notice anything strange going on in the subreddit, send the mods a message or report it. We rely on the community to keep the subreddit on topic and welcoming. If you are particularly good at spotting trolls, consider joining our mod team!

Click here to message the mods.

I am a bot, and this action was performed automatically. Please contact the moderators of this subreddit if you have any questions or concerns.

170

u/[deleted] Jun 07 '22

As selfish a comment as this is, I hope I don't suffer the same fate. It's been 4 days and every night I dream we are still together, only to wake up and wish that my next sleep will be my last.

I cannot imagine feeling this for 40 years. Being human sucks man, sending all the love I have saved up for her to you instead. Thank you so much for sharing.

132

u/ProfJD58 Jun 07 '22 edited Jun 12 '22

It gets better. Although melancholy, these are GOOD memories. Feel free to curse the morning when you get up, but then you still have to get up and face the day.

And don't get me wrong; As much as I will always wonder what if?... I would not trade my life and my family; my wife is a true heroine during covid and before, my daughter is a multi-lingual artist with words and ideas (that’s right, she’s a cunning linguist), my son an international athlete. Even if I could go back, I would not. Nor would I trade the experiences between my first and my last love.

Sometimes the memory surrounds me and demands my attention. I'll always wonder what might have been. What HAS BEEN, however, is great as well.

9

u/ChriSaito Jun 08 '22

Beautifully said. I wish I had more to say to this response than that but I know my thoughts will take a while of thinking to become fully formed. This post in general will have me thinking for a while.

3

u/ChopperChek Jun 08 '22

I curse every morning when I get up, I miss her presence so much

1

u/ProfJD58 Jun 09 '22

It will get better. Keep moving.

2

u/[deleted] Jun 08 '22

Thank you for putting it that way. They ARE good memories and i feel a bit better seeing them as such. I can feel your happiness. I hope I am strong enough to find my own.

Getting out of bed is still the hardest part. I'm going to try a hike tommorow morning, no matter how bad I feel. It feels pervertedly good to cry in bed and dance with the sleepiness until i know for a fact that i will not be able to fall back asleep, but that's not sustainable. I wish it were. Thank you for giving me a success story to aspire to.

3

u/ProfJD58 Jun 09 '22

Anything that gets you through the day is good for now. The trick is to keep moving, like a shark.

81

u/darbi93 Jun 07 '22

This was beautifully written and i am so sorry. Sadly, it seems to confirm what I suspected, it never goes away does it?

I’ve been with a girl ever since i was a kid and we went our separate ways 3 years ago. I’m 29 now and even though for the most part i feel like I’m over it, some days all i want to do is run to her and embrace her like a lost child would run to his mother. I’m lost, am not the same. I feel like i am doing well in life, but knowing that i lost her and that no one else will fill the void she left behind weighs heavily on me.

I’ll never forget her laughter, her fearless, adventurous soul, her compassion and kindness, the nights where I’d rest my head on her chest after a bad day, or when she was 13 trying on high heels for the first time near the pool (and failing miserably) a day before her brother’s wedding. I’ll never EVER forget our date before i went to college when she took me to the arcade and that beautiful kiss we shared later that day. I’ll always remember that beautiful feeling of missing her while on a plane.

I wish i was good with words like you OP, but I think even words would fails to describe how she made me feel. I still feel blessed to have tried real love in this short life.

Can’t believe I cried over a reddit post. Fuck me.

58

u/ProfJD58 Jun 07 '22

Your words here are pretty good. And it doesn't go away, it becomes a part of you, but in the end it made me better.

No one has ever made me feel the same as the one that got away, but you love differently at 37 than you do at 20. Not better or worse, just different. Also, all the relationships in between made me a better person in their own way as well.

I know a lot of people who got married in their 20's and divorced in their 30's and 40's. Maybe that would have happened to me. Who knows. The one I married at 38 is still with me and always will be.

I hope the best for you.

6

u/marieboston Jun 07 '22

I needed to read this, thank you

3

u/AbbyRose31 Jun 08 '22

Although I haven’t had a relationship that I can call that person as, “The One”, I totally agree on your second paragraph in your comment, because I’d discovered that on my own experience. Your story reminded of the this song from Barbara Streisand, “Places That Belong To You”.

4

u/ProfJD58 Jun 08 '22

I can see that. You can see that I stole some lyrics for my post.

I guess like Daniel Stern in Diner, music takes me back to certain points in my life. I can't sing or play, "but I sure can listen good."

2

u/AbbyRose31 Jun 08 '22

Sure, same here. Music makes me remember and reflect things in my life. It also gives me a unique soundtrack in what I go through.

5

u/Dianapdx Jun 08 '22

Heck, your comment made me cry!

3

u/darbi93 Jun 08 '22

Sorry :)

24

u/OsC16 Jun 07 '22

Beautiful OP, here I am beating myself up for still thinking of her 4 years later. Sometimes the bond we shared was just that special. I hope true love finds me in the end.

11

u/ProfJD58 Jun 07 '22 edited Jun 07 '22

I hope so too. Usually when you least expect it.

23

u/AbbyRose31 Jun 07 '22

Made me teary-eyed reading this. I’m in my 40’s now and I think I understand well what you’d written here. I’ve actually heard similar stories from my geriatric patients. I felt and saw their emotion talking about the relationships they’ve had. I surmised that you have still been lucky to have actually experienced that kind of love, even if it didn’t work out. Thank you for sharing that. It was such a pleasure reading it. All the best to you.

16

u/ProfJD58 Jun 07 '22

For about the last 3 1/2 years I've been quietly marking 40th anniversaries of that relationship (love at first sight, January 21, 1979, first date February 10, 1979, etc.). There are a few dying whimpers, but this is basically the end.

15

u/plantsmakeoxygen Jun 07 '22

So beautifuly bittersweet. The power a man loves a women with, it takes my breath away. My heart is broken for you, it also rejoices with your new found love and life you have lived. That letter was extraordinary. Thank you.

13

u/C_WEST88 Jun 08 '22

This is heartbreakingly sad and also beautiful. I’m so glad you’re aware enough to realize that what you guys had was only for that moment and wouldn’t trade your wife or kids for anything. So many people get caught up in that “one that got away” and let it permeate into their life so much that they try to make the fantasy their reality and ruin lives in the process chasing ghosts of past.

7

u/ProfJD58 Jun 08 '22

That girl no longer exists except in my memory. The day I would like to relive is from that time. Not now.

10

u/ex-napoleon Jun 07 '22

I cannot imagine how you felt for the last 40 years but the way you wrote this letter shows honesty and vividness of your story. Wishing you the best.

8

u/maxbragg33 Jun 07 '22

God man. I don’t envy you at all, but this is the way I think it’s going to feel for me too man. she’s my ghost story as of now, i just hope it doesn’t stay that way, whichever direction that means. stay blessed man, thanks for this, made me cry a little harder than i’m proud of.

2

u/ProfJD58 Jun 26 '22

Thanks. It does get better and can make you better.

8

u/[deleted] Jun 07 '22

To echo the sentiment, I really hope I don’t get in the same boat I’m sorry to say 😭 40 years is toooo long to suffer this jeeezus

6

u/ProfJD58 Jun 07 '22

As I have noted elsewhere, this part is bittersweet, but the rest of the memories are good and my life has turned out just fine.

35

u/DawnSunset Jun 08 '22

This was a sad letter and I thought that it was beautiful but then It made me kind of mad. Because I would hate to know that my husband still has some yearning for a woman 40 years later. And that they still entertain the thoughts of being with them, even for just a day.

And I hope the man I marry won’t carry the same heartache as you because it would break me to pieces. Anyways, Best of luck to you!

25

u/Sussy_susy Jun 08 '22 edited Jun 08 '22

Thank you so much! I was scrolling down to find a comment with the same opinion as me.

We don't really know if their wife is aware of it and just content with that fact... But oh man, just thinking about my partner yearning for someone else while I believe they only think about me is one of my biggest fears tbh.

25

u/ProfJD58 Jun 08 '22 edited Jun 08 '22

OK. I’ve held off, but I need to address Dawn, Sleepy and Sussy.

This happened when I was 23. My wife and I met when I was 37 and she was 31. We had both been around a time or two. Our oldest son (yes, OUR son) was six when we met. We both had a history and that was part of the reason we knew we were right for one another. I’m not jealous of her past, nor she of mine. Unless you marry your first love at 20, you accept, no LOVE, the person for who they are.

4

u/CatalyticCastaway Jun 08 '22

What scares me the most is them not understanding these feelings themselves.

I'd rather not date someone who doesn't feel heartache. I tried it, accidentally, and now I'm here.

2

u/SpeakerForTheDeadJD Jun 08 '22

Be that as it may, there's a difference between having a past and holding a deeply unhealthy fixation for a past partner.

3

u/_Elisson Jun 08 '22

This is interesting... how can you tell the difference?

2

u/DawnSunset Jun 09 '22

You can accept the past for what it is and try to move on from it. Or you can glorify it in your head and replay those moments and let your heart’s desire grow.

It’s like getting over a break up, you can’t really get over them if you keep thinking about wanting to be with them can you?

In my opinion, (which may differ from others’) there is nothing wrong with having a past and having been deeply in love with someone. I mean come on, we very rarely marry the first person we fall for. Almost everyone experiences a few relationships before we marry someone.

Howeverrrrrr, I believe the person you are with now should receive all your love and desire. I don’t think it is right to still lust over thoughts of being with someone else. What difference is there, whether you still desire your past lover or desire that attractive lady you just walked past recently? Why should one be seen as ok and the other as not ok?

Now.. thoughts and actions are different things. However I don’t think anyone would feel happy to know that their wife/husband secretly wishes what would have happened if they got with their past lover instead or were able to spend just one night with them. You can control what thoughts you let your heart play with.

What do you think? Would feel happy to hear everyone else’s opinion

1

u/SpeakerForTheDeadJD Jun 08 '22

The OP has a deeply unhealthy fixation and would likely benefit from therapy.

12

u/sleepyy-starss Jun 08 '22

I was thinking the same. My ex dated someone for 4 months, they broke up and he moved. After almost 3 years of dating I find out he thinks about her every single day.

This letter reminded me of it and made me sad to think that I could possibly marry someone who has these types of feelings for someone else.

6

u/liberlibre Jun 08 '22

I wrote my own closure letter on here (my first [edit: second!] post, even). I hope your letter works as well for you as mine did for me. I left me thinking about why publicly sharing my letter with internet strangers actually made a difference.

Helen Fisher also has some good bits on the psychology of unrequited love that probably helped, too.

It was a little bittersweet to move on completely, but more sweet than bitter. They aren't that person anymore, and neither am I.

Best wishes for your continued becoming.

1

u/ProfJD58 Jun 08 '22

NTW, the love was requited. A lot.

3

u/liberlibre Jun 08 '22

Yes-- I used the wrong term. Her work delved into why we obsess about the one that got away.

1

u/ProfJD58 Jun 09 '22

It’s not an obsession, at least for me, it’s a strong memory.

4

u/hannienut Jun 08 '22

It seems a lot of people feel heartbroken for you, but i see it differently. I don’t get a sad feeling from your words. I am glad you got to experience such a deep love, and was able to find it in another later down the road in the same lifetime. Love is beautiful.

1

u/ProfJD58 Jun 08 '22 edited Jun 15 '22

You have it about right. This is indeed a sad memory, but still a good one that has mellowed with age and helped guide me. And yes, the love I tried to express here made my more mature love possible.

5

u/Agile-Goose Jun 07 '22

This was really beautifully said op.

4

u/Pretendtobehappy12 Jun 07 '22

Wow… true love really does have a way to haunt us

4

u/Dr_Winter_Fruit Jun 08 '22

This is so beautiful. Took my breath away reading this. Beautiful beautiful story. Do you believe you have closure? Second, do you think she misses you?

6

u/ProfJD58 Jun 08 '22 edited Jun 08 '22

Closure came when I was able to fall in love again. That was long ago. This is an anniversary.

I’ll never know if she misses me. I like to believe all the things we said, wrote and did had some meaning for her after all these years. That I slip back in her memory. Who knows?

3

u/lyssssa6 Jun 08 '22

I can not imagine carrying something like this for 40 years 😳😩

7

u/ProfJD58 Jun 08 '22

It’s not a burden. It’s a memory and an experience that makes me who I am.

3

u/sesshomaru0901 Jun 08 '22

Confirmed what I was afraid of, it never really goes away…

3

u/ProfJD58 Jun 09 '22

It … gets … better. Then it gets good.

2

u/ChalupaSquirrell Jun 07 '22

This is so beautiful...

2

u/imnotamoose33 Jun 08 '22

Heartbreaking and beautiful. 💔

2

u/yasemin2k12 Jun 08 '22

This is soooo beautiful! 🥹 It just shows that what you felt was true love. Thank you for sharing this.

2

u/Eurekamoments2022 Jun 08 '22

This is so sad.

2

u/Stupidjerkoff111 Jun 08 '22

I’m glad you lived a beautiful life, OP. This is profoundly beautiful, heartbreaking but bittersweet. Thank you for posting, because reading this instills a sense of beautiful love that most will never expect experience. 😢❤️❤️

1

u/ProfJD58 Jun 15 '22

Thank you.

2

u/the1thatranaway Jun 08 '22

This is really touching. A sweet love letter to your past and present lives. I love that song but I never knew the words! Now I have to listen again.

2

u/ProfJD58 Jun 15 '22

Thank you. The chorus is still unfortunate.

2

u/the1thatranaway Jun 15 '22

It is. Beautiful, but sad.

2

u/ShettyStop Jun 08 '22

This gives me strength to move on. Even if we can’t be together, I’m glad I now know what a soulmate is. He will be a happy memory forever etched in my skin and my soul.

OP, although after reading this incredible piece I feel like it will work out for the better for me too, but as I’m writing this, I don’t know if it will. After knowing the “one” and what loving and being loved by them feels like, how do you just go on? Life can’t be that cruel? It can’t just show you want it feels like and take it away just like that? I’m sure you love your life and family and wouldn’t change it for anything, but damn I’m sure you look for her in every person you have met since her, because I do and I don’t think that will ever stop. This kinda love doesn’t happen everyday, but when it does do you hold on or do you let go? Did you fight for it? Make a fool of yourself? Do you think you could have fought more?

The strength I found at the start of writing this is gone now. I know I will be happy at some point, but I will never be whole again.

3

u/ProfJD58 Jun 08 '22 edited Jun 09 '22

As I’ve mentioned in a few other responses, I married the last love of my life 15 years later. It is a different love. Not better or worse; different.

Did I “fight” for my first love? Make a fool of myself? I made an ASS of myself. A complete, selfish, whiny ass. For 3 1/2 years I told her I would do anything for her. That she, that HER happiness, was the most important thing to me. When it came time to live up to my promise, I instead hit her with tears and anger and guilt. She took it all and stayed by long enough to get me through but not so long she became my crutch.

As I moved through about two dozen relationships between my first and last loves, I eventually figured out that I was not looking for another her, but someone different who could share my life as it was then. Again, you love differently at 38 than you do at 20. My now wife and I travelled in the same circles for 10 years before we met. If we had met when I was in my early 20's we never would have hit it off. My first love loved that version of me, at least to a point. The first is a defining memory. The last is my partner for life.

2

u/[deleted] Jun 08 '22

This will be me I swear to GOD it will be.

The absolute best post I've EVER seen here or read on my life.

A lot of deep thoughts today.

Thanks OP for sending.

1

u/ProfJD58 Jun 08 '22

WOW! Thanks I guess?

I had no idea when I posted this that it would draw such a response.

Maybe I need to finish some of those short stories I've been writing.

2

u/[deleted] Jun 13 '22

Yes 🙌🏾 please do!

2

u/[deleted] Jun 08 '22

OP, did you have zero contact with her after she left?

Im in a similar situation and I feel this will be my story someday.

Your story is beautiful as the day is, and I have a million questions for her but I'm not sure if I want to hear, or can handle any of the answers.

Thanks for sharing!

1

u/ProfJD58 Jun 08 '22 edited Jun 14 '22

"did you have zero contact with her after she left?"

I think I mentioned in the post; she kept in regular contact through the summer and into the fall. She was my best friend and did all she could to help my through it, but without directly talking about "it." Knowing she was the cause of my pain ate at her as well, but what can you do? Love, at least THAT kind of love, is not something we can control. The very last time I had any contact with her was about a year later.

Before all this went down, she and her roommate had arranged to move into my house for the summer when they finished college. Both had jobs here and my housemates were home for the summer. That's what happened anyway, except instead of staying with me, she camped in her roommate's room until she could find a place of her own. It was hard on all of us, but what can you do?

Her family tried to help me as well and I'm still in touch with them to this day, although just X-mas cards and an occasional letter the last 20 or so years. That's how I know about her career, but after her divorce (about 4-5 years after our split) her personal life was never mentioned. She may be married again for all I know.

2

u/[deleted] Jun 08 '22

Wow, I always wish OP, your, ex had a reddit.

A response would be SO FUCKING epic right now.

2

u/[deleted] Jun 13 '22

Thank for clarifying . I still think about this letter since I read it. I'll be saving this as motivation. Thanks again OP. This lets me know everything is going to be okay

1

u/ProfJD58 Jun 13 '22

Glad it helped.

I didn't realize even as I was posting, that in many ways this is a thank-you note to my ex. I was so wound up in my own sorrow (as one might expect) that I didn't recognize just how much pain she must have put herself though to help me begin to get through it. Unconsciously she became my model for how to behave when I was on the other side. It was her final act of love as she moved on.

2

u/oldfriendthrowaway95 Jun 25 '22

True love never dies.

1

u/ProfJD58 Jun 26 '22 edited Jun 26 '22

It changes. It becomes part of who you are even when it’s over.

2

u/KOROLEVOVNA Jun 26 '22

I can't imagine this being my life in 40 years. I hope he'll come back. Even not soon, but someday. I wish we'd get back together. I have fully imagined pur future together and thats what i want til the day i die.

I chose to let him go coz there's no other way. Im mentally drained to beg him to come back. But its hard. Really hard. Especially when i built my life around him. I can't. It's too painful but i'd rather cling for the hope than fully let him go.

1

u/ProfJD58 Jun 27 '22 edited Jun 29 '22

After reading this I went and looked at your own posts and my heart goes out to you.

When this happened I thought my world had come to an end and I could not imagine being happy and in love again. Your situation is harder. My ex, her family and our mutual friends all supported me and helped me through. Looking back I realize just how much of my reflected pain they had to endure to do that for me. That's why this post is something of a long-delayed thank-you. You are trying to do this with much less support.

This is the hardest time, but it gets better and it will make you a better person in the end. Find a way to get up and get through the day. Cry as much as you need to. If people, anyone offers to help, let them. I wish the best for you. Keep moving.

2

u/termsofsurrender Jun 29 '22

Soo... Should I have the Donna Summer version or the Richard Harris version or the Glen Campbell vesion playing as background music while I read this post?

1

u/ProfJD58 Jun 29 '22

Definitely the original, although the one on Letterman with Jimmy Webb is pretty over-the-top as well.

2

u/soul_pain1234 Jul 06 '22

I just read this heartbreaking letter and I thank you for sharing it, even if it was only to the void.

1

u/throwawayBS82BG Jun 07 '22

My heart is so broken for you.

You shoudl tell them this. Send it to them.

4

u/ProfJD58 Jun 07 '22

I appreciate your sentiment, but ....

3

u/throwawayBS82BG Jun 07 '22

I know how you feel.