by Sharon Daugherty

Dear Lover,

I watched from my window as you built another life, in another place, with another woman, and still I didn’t get it. I didn't seem to notice that you were not coming in my direction, that what I had to give, you would never take. The only thing I ever offered that you willingly accepted was the knowledge that no matter what levels of humiliation and loneliness you took me to, no matter how many times I was left standing alone in the rain, I would take you back. Even when you didn't even want that anymore, I waited. I hoped. How deep, how painful the struggle was for me to come to grips with the idea that I had been rejected. In one swift motion you'd left me standing alone one last time.

But it's OK now. And you know what? I thank you. I thank you for releasing me. For making me pick up the pieces. You pushed me out into the world, where I had to give myself to someone who would take what I had to offer and cherish it. I gave myself to a person who was interested in what I had to say, proud of the things that I could do, curious about what I would do next. I gave myself to one who understood my likes and dislikes, who wanted to know me do so well that my thoughts and moods were clear, and thought that whatever I felt was OK because I was a person in the world. I gave myself to someone who never asked too much but expected my best, one who gave me respect, admiration, confidence, and joy, love.

I gave myself to me.

And I was happy to meet me.

So when I discovered this girl, I decided to spend a lot of time alone with her, getting to know her, and learning to love her. When we were ready, we presented ourselves to the world. And the world liked us! The world said we went well together, she and I. We were a unit. We had beauty, intelligence, spirituality, and compassion. But we had one other thing we wished to get rid of, but couldn't—the fear of facing you.

I thought it over and discussed it with my new partner, my brave new inner self. We decided. We would face you. We would do it, and whatever happened, we would not feel ashamed or weak, because we were—I was—a work in progress. If a few weak spots still remained, they would just be marked "under construction."

Dialing you on the phone, I looked in the mirror, and, remembering how so many other conversations with you ended, I asked my inner self, "Do you have the Kleenex?" to which she boldly replied, "Why? We don't need it."

When you answered the phone, I felt my heart race, and my palms began to sweat so badly that the receiver almost slipped our of my hand. I sat down and tried get hold of myself, but for the life of me, I couldn't do it! I had lost my words, my smile, and seemingly, my faculties. Thank God for my inner self. You know what she did? She kicked me! She kicked me from the inside, and reminded me of who we are and of what we've got, and of all the work we've done. I remembered and composed myself. Finally, after seconds that seemed like hours, after you'd said "Hello?" four times, I finally spoke.


We agreed to meet for lunch. I had become so engaged with my new inner self that I almost made reservations for three. But I made them for two, and I got myself ready.

In order to avoid embarrassing the inner self, the outer self is obligated to perform certain hygienic rituals. So, before our meeting, I went to the spa—not for you but for us. For me and my inner self, as a reward for all of our hard work. I discovered at the spa, that we could do things just for ourselves. That feeling good, looking good, and pampering ourselves has as much, if not more, to do with loving oneself than it has to do with impressing, inviting, or enticing another! And with that, inner self and I cleared another hurdle—we began to take better care of ourselves.

As we left the spa, Self said something very strange to me. "You know, it's almost done, our work. Soon, we'll be finished. You'll be able to do all of this without me looking over your shoulder."

"Well, you can't just up and leave!" I said, panicked.

"No, I won't be gone, I'll just..." and with the sight of you, her voice faded.

There you stood, just as I'd remembered you. Tall, and beautiful, with a smile to light up all outdoors. I paused mid-step, took a breath. As I started to walk toward you, the breeze picked up, and in the rush of wind that passed my face, I heard a voice that sounded like mine whisper, "You're finished...I love you."

I looked around but saw no one, and continued towards you. The next step I took almost knocked me off my feet because it felt so strange. My feet hit the ground with an earth shattering pound. My breath came strong and steady, like the wind whipping off a midnight ocean. My chest protruded and my smile spread, and then I understood. I knew in that instant that it was my inner self that whispered in my ear, and I knew in that instant just what she meant.

I was complete.

I guess you're wondering why I backed away when you tried to hug me. It was because I knew that hug too well. Your hugs were always filled with promises that would never be kept, questions that would never be answered. No, that's one form of affection I can now do without.

And you had this puzzled look on your face, as if to ask, "What's wrong? Why aren't you falling at my feet?" Of course, I couldn't blame you. It's what you're used to from me. You were always going off in pursuit of other interests, other people, other women. When you were all done playing, you came back to me, exhausted, and fell into my all too willing arms. When I think of how much time I spent loving you, wanting you, taking any nugget of attention you tossed my way, well, I am ashamed.

After all this time, I still wasn't sure I could look into your eyes again. I was so uncertain what those eyes would do to me. I didn't know if they could still turn me into butter.

But I was whole, and I was wonderful. Never again will I have to beg anyone to take my love, because people now want to share the love I have coming from within.

So that is why I didn't cry when I saw you. That is why I didn't faint, or swoon, or fall into your arms. Because the road between this hug and the last one stretched out far, and along the way, I discovered my inner self, my loving self, my greatest self, myself.

I now have all I need.

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