Post main image
Photo by


A Letter To My Ex

Finding healing and closure

BY Pauline Katethya

Mar 14, 2023, 08:25 AM

Photo by

Dear Ex, 
I hope you are doing well and you still have a big afro and the rich laughter that emanates from the depths of your stomach and makes the walls tremble. I don’t know how we got here. It actually feels strange calling us we. I mean, there was always you and I, but was there a we? We seemed to exist separately even when we were together. People talk about peas in a pod but we were like peas in different pods. Different pages in the same book, near but yet far away from one another. 

We met when I was a young girl; naive and shy. I lacked faith in myself and the world. I didn’t love myself, and neither did I see any beauty I possessed. But you saw me. You penetrated the deepest cracks of my soul and shone a light in the areas I even hid from myself. You were not afraid of the darkness, you seemed comfortable in it. Like you were somehow used to it. 

I remember when I told you that no one chooses me, you said the biggest battle is winning against yourself. You told me that if you call the caretaker to fix your water and he takes time, you don’t think to yourself, I am a shitty person. You think that the caretaker has an issue. You encouraged me to let go of my self-defeating attitude and fly in beauty. 

When you are used to being invisible, someone seeing you feels wrong. A sin. A crime. When you are used to being a shadow, you want to continue being one. Lurking in the darkness, hiding in walls, parentheses, and blank spaces. You seeing me made me feel special. Chosen. Loved. It made me feel as If I belong. I had suddenly found a friend, a lover, and a father in you. 

And that was the problem. I fell too hard that I didn’t notice how hurt I was. I made a home out of you and always expected you to save me from myself and the world. I didn’t know you were addicted to saving people. I didn’t know I was addicted to being saved. We were sick.
A man and a woman caught up in an intimate moment.
Your opinions mattered more than my own, your voice always louder than mine. I coiled myself around you, almost suffocating you. There was no me without you. There was no home without you. I was emotionally wounded, I thought I had it all. I created a space for myself in your world and assumed a position I didn’t hold. You didn’t tell me there was a problem. I didn’t think there were any. 

I never even asked if we were in a relationship, I just assumed we were. Did titles really matter when I had finally found a place to call home and a man to spend the rest of my life with? I was too naive that I mistook care and kindness for love. I mistook sexual attraction for love. I thought being wanted and needed were the biggest things to happen to me, because who would want a damaged woman like me?

There were ripples in the water but I was too blinded to see that. I breathed in love and breathed out love. We existed in the same breath. You had said love would never leave us alone and I believed that. I didn’t know I was in a relationship alone. You knew. So many things came to life and I later learned it was all an illusion. A facade. You never loved me. I wasn’t your girlfriend. It wouldn’t hurt to let go. There were other women in the picture. But how could I stop unloving you? What would I tell my heart? How could I say goodbye?

So, I stayed. I overextended myself to you hoping you would see me. I overgave and over-apologized even when it was you in the wrong. I didn’t want to lose you. I spent a lot of time wondering why I wasn’t enough for you. Was I not beautiful, smart, or good enough? What did the other girls have that I didn’t? I started feeling small, almost invisible, ugly, and lost. 

Sometimes, you’d be so present then disappear. I wondered where you always went. Even when you hurt me, I held on to the good parts. I reminded myself of the good things you did. You were everywhere but here. I thought unconditional love meant tolerating abuse. Things looked perfect from the outside, but inside, we were rotten and it was only a matter of time before we started smelling. I lost myself, my self-esteem, my peace, and my soul to you. 

There were so many goodbyes before the final one. Too many tears, breakdowns, and soul breaks before I decided to leave. You had changed, yet I stood there waiting for the man I thought I knew. I stood there waiting for a love that had grown wings. I realized that being a good woman doesn’t make a man stay. I’d stay there forever and you’d never see me, acknowledge my feelings, be intentional with me or treat me with respect and kindness. You’d never love me. 

I’m grateful for the times and all the ways you showed up for me. I think this journey was necessary for me to uncover my layers and to help me know who I am. I now know love. I now know the kind of hands that need to carry me. You brought me so much joy and so much pain. You built me but also destroyed me. The things that make you beautiful, destroy you first. 

I loved you but there’s only so much that love can do. You are a good man, responsible, kind, a man with a big heart but you stopped being good to me. And that doesn’t make you a bad person but I know I deserved better. I deserve more than the breadcrumbs you gave. I deserve emotional safety and security. And above all a man who loves me like God loves me. Here’s to finding my place in the sun. Thank you for dancing with me till the end of love. Goodbye.