Things I Learned: Letter to My Could-Have-Been. {poetry}

I dropped the girls off at your house on Thanksgiving.
I looked at all the cars parked in the driveway
The familiar scene.
You outside in your flannel shirt that I bought you three years ago for Christmas.
The smell of a home ready to be full of people.

Driving home, I was filled with so much regret.
I couldn’t stop crying and thinking of what would have been had I never left.
Who we would be.

I have had a lot of time to think since then… two years.

Only recently have I really started breaking open the pain of who we were.
Healing takes so long.
They never tell you that. They say, oh you will be just fine in a few months, you will find new love, you will find yourself, you will be happy and the world will go on turning.
And I did all those things, I thought…
But only recently did I know it was only surface-level.

It was my victory propelling me. I won, I left, I called the shots of what the ending looked like. You hurt me and I hurt you, but I won.
And all my anger for you, and your anger for me, did not settle. It simmered at the surface and burned everything we touched, still.

And I blamed you.

And I blamed you.

The other day, I was going through some boxes. Things I haven’t unpacked since I left.

There were so many things from you.

Cards with notes that you took the time to write, cards from the girls that you helped pick out. Concert tickets, earrings that you bought from a woman at work. Words. A card that you made from scratch. Words. A necklace with the tree of life, a pendant with our birthstones, words…

I remember you telling me once, “A gift tells you how a person really feels about you.”

And I sat there with all of your gifts and I thought I might die with the emotion that gripped my heart. And I had no words.

I have been thinking, since then, how to tell you.

That I’m sorry. From the bottom of my heart, I am sorry that I hurt you.

To tell you that I think of ways that we could have done things differently, better.

That I missed so many things because I was so focused on being right.

That I know there were so many things that I contributed to and didn’t own up to because of my pride.

That I didn’t honor that this was a two-way street, you and me.

That there are so many things that I said and shouldn’t have. That I didn’t say but should have. I think about all of these things and what could have been different/better.
All the things we do as humans when we rip moments apart in the middle of the night to figure out what really happened. To try to understand.

And maybe we never will understand. And maybe that’s okay.

I want you to know that it wasn’t easy for me to walk away. I want you to know that I really did try.

I wanted to tell you that sometimes I miss you, I think that’s only natural. We were together for seven years, so of course. I miss being able to tell you all of the things.

And what I want to tell you mostly is that I am done being angry over those years. I am so grateful for the things that I learned. For the growth that I have experienced — with, through, and because of, you.

I look at the girls, and how happy they are. How good they are. How full of love they are, and you are a part of that.

I couldn’t do this parenting, or healing, thing without you, and for that I am forever grateful.

It is hard and real and raw, and you are there for every step.

You, my friend, are full of little gifts.

And I just wanted to say Thank You.


Angela Waters is a creative writer who’s been using words to fit her thoughts and emotions since she was a child. She truly believes that words can transform both herself and others. She is on a mission to become the best version of herself, and to share her truth.


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