I heard our song today.
And I thought of you.
I haven’t heard the sound of your voice in over a decade, and yet, if I heard it today, I would recognize it in an instant, like a quote of a favorite sentimental film. But I heard our song today. And I thought of you.
I don’t miss you. I really don’t. I am beyond happy now with my wife. She is my everything. But that doesn’t change the fact that I am a sentimental old fool. I don’t miss you, but I do remember how much I hurt you. I remember all the times I made you cry, and I know that caused you an immeasurable amount of pain. We were in college and naive and … well … stupid – or at least I was.
Step #8 in the Twelve Steps of Sex Addicts Anonymous is to “make a list of all persons we had harmed, and became willing to make amends to them all.” And although my list is extremely long, your name is at the top. I’ve hurt so many people in my life, but I think I’ve hurt you the most. I’ve caused my wife a lot of pain during our marriage, but I’ve had the chance to seek and receive her forgiveness, so as far as she is concerned, I have nothing more to apologize for (though I continue to do so on a nearly daily basis). But with you, I’ve never actually looked you in the eyes and been truly sorry.
You see, my doomed and tragic relationship with you was a microcosm of everything that was wrong with me, and how I saw the world through my jaded eyes of addiction. I must admit that much of our intimate life was driven my addiction to sexual highs and conquests, not love. I cheated on you more times than I can remember and I used you to enact my fantasies and desires without any respect for your feelings, emotions, or well-being. I would give anything to tell you I was sorry, but I will never get that chance. I will never get the opportunity to make amends as part of Step #8, because of Step #9: “Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.”
I saw you at a concert a few years ago in Kansas City, and I know you saw me. And I saw the look on your face when you saw me as I stood backstage with my wife. I saw the horrid disgust in your eyes that blanketed your face upon the mere sight of me, and I completely understood. I (of course) tried to play it off like I wasn’t phased, but my facade was only skin-deep. My wife recognized you as well from old pictures she’d seen. But to her knowledge, all she knew of you were the negatives of our relationship – I never told her about the good things, and I would be genuinely surprised if you even remembered them. But I do. I don’t miss them and I don’t long for them, but I remember them – and I also remember how it was often me who shattered them, not you.
I heard our song today. And I thought of you.
I hear you’re engaged now. Congratulations – seriously. I really am glad that you’re happy. You deserve someone who will treat you exponentially better than I ever did. Because if there was ever a person who experienced the worst parts of the addiction-driven piece of shit I was, you were that person. I will never have the chance to express this, and the odds of you actually stumbling across this particular piece of writing are slim-to-none. And that’s fine, I guess. You don’t want to hear from me, and I completely understand.
But regardless, I am working on Step #8; I’m working on my list of those I’ve harmed, and you are at the top of that list, even above that former student. The pain I caused you during the years of our tumultuous relationship is unforgivable, which is why I will never be afforded the opportunity to say to you, genuinely, “I’m sorry.” But wherever you are and wherever you will go, maybe the universe will find a way to say, just once, “I’m sorry.”
I’m not asking you for anything (not even forgiveness), I’m not really trying to tell you anything (or maybe I am; I don’t know), and I’m not looking for any sort of direct result from … well … anything. I am simply writing, because writing is how I cope, and I have to find a way to cope with how much I hurt you. Aside from my wife, I’ve caused you more pain than anyone else, and perhaps one of these days, you’ll know that I’m aware of that. I didn’t just walk away from our relationship like some bad-ass action hero walking casually away from a massive explosion behind him. I understand the pain I’ve caused and the damage I left, and this is the best method I know to say “I’m sorry.” And maybe you’re completely over all of it and have forgotten about me with the utter finality and swiftness of a Texas death row execution – and if that is indeed the case, then I am beyond happy that you have been able to move forward. But in my heart, that doesn’t take away the weight of the harm I caused you.
I heard our song today, and I needed to say, “I’m sorry.”
This is my amends to you.