The Rest of Me
A novel about love and starting over. Luke was the love of Renee’s life until until an unexpected turn of events tore them apart which she would not learn about until more than twenty years later, forever changing the course of her life.
“What do you think might have triggered those memories of Luke?” Diane asked Renee during their second session.
Sitting on the couch with her arms crossed, Renee shook her head. “I don’t know. Maybe talking to you about my family and childhood jogged my memory a little. I try not to think about my family or anything related to my family or…,” Renee took a deep breath before continuing, “my childhood home.”
“Does Luke fall into that category? People and things you try to block out?”
She thought about this question for a moment before answering. “I guess so. I mean, what would be the point in continuing to think about him? What would that accomplish? I doubt he ever thought much about me or else he would have reached out. Right?”
Diane sat in silence.
Renee felt tears begin to form and quickly grabbed the bottle of water from her purse and took a few gulps.
“Have you ever thought about reaching out to Luke?” Diane asked.
“I did. I just told you about that.”
“I mean more recently. Have you thought about looking him up on social media?”
“Closure. You know, there’s nothing wrong with calmly confronting someone who’s hurt you, even if it took place many years ago. It’s possible that Luke may have no idea how much he hurt you. You were both very young at the time and young people aren’t known for thinking about the consequences of their actions.”
Renee picked at the label on her water bottle while listening to Diane.
“There’s also a chance you might find out that what he did had nothing to do with you.” Diane added.
Renee looked at her questioningly.
Diane continued, “I’m not attempting to justify his actions in any way, but for all we know something could have happened back then that you’re unaware of that kept him from contacting you. Didn’t you tell me that you moved out of the family home shortly after all of this took place? And your family didn’t approve of him, isn’t that correct?”
“Do you think there’s a possibility he may have tried to make contact after you moved out and the message wasn’t relayed to you?”
That thought had never occurred to her before. She remembered how her mother referred to Luke as “white trash” which absolutely disgusted Renee.
“Sometimes confronting those who have hurt us can seem like a daunting task.” Diane said. “Something you might want to think about is writing a letter to Luke. Maybe even to your parents if and when you feel the time is right. You don’t need to send these letters, you can put them away somewhere safe, throw them out, burn them, whatever suits you. The point of writing them is to get your feelings out in the open. Many people find that putting their feelings down on paper has a therapeutic effect. Not only are you letting your feelings out, but you’re seeing them put into words. If you decide to do this with Luke, you might feel like you finally had the chance to clue him in on how much he hurt you. And who knows? Afterward, you may feel ready to look him up if you believe that’s the next step to take.”
After a moment of silence, Diane added, “Why not think that about that?”
After dinner, Renee poured herself a glass of wine and thought about everything she and Diane discussed earlier. What was the worst that could happen if she wrote Luke a letter? Of course, she wouldn’t send it anywhere; she’d most likely delete it. Grabbing her laptop, she sat on the couch, her glass of wine on the table next to her, and thought of how she might start. She stared at the blank screen for a few minutes and came up with nothing. She then told herself to just start typing.
I know this seems to be coming out of nowhere, but I think I’ve waited long enough to tell you how I feel. I loved you. I never loved anyone before or after the way I loved you. At the time, I believed you felt the same, but now I’ll never know for sure. I’ll never know if anything you said to me was genuine. I’ll never know if you were telling me the truth when you claimed to love me. The more I think about it, the more I realize that you must not have as I don’t see how anyone can treat a person they love in such a way. How do you go from telling someone you love them while having sex with them and making plans to travel through Europe together and eventually moving in together to completely freezing them out of your life with no explanation?
You led me to believe I was safe. You led me to believe that there was someone out there who honestly cared about me, who was happy to see me, who wanted nothing but the best for me and my well-being. If you wanted out all you had to do was say so. Yes, I would have been hurt. Yes, I would have cried. I probably would have been angry as well, but I wouldn’t have been shattered. I wouldn’t have felt as if a rug had been yanked out from underneath my entire life. I wouldn’t have spent weeks being disappointed every time I walked out of the house to not find you out front holding flowers and apologizing for hurting me. That scenario may sound ridiculous now, but that’s what loving someone drives you to: absurd hopes and dreams. To say that you broke my heart would be an understatement. You tore it apart. You ripped it into so many minuscule pieces that can never be put back together. Please know that I don’t hate you. I’m not even angry anymore. If anything, I thank you. You taught me to protect myself. You taught me that nothing lasts forever, especially relationships. Most importantly, you taught me that the only person I should rely on is me.
I know it’s strange, but you’ve crossed my mind lately, and the memories of you have been disturbingly vivid, and oddly enough, despite all the years that passed, I miss you. I’m writing this letter in the hopes that I’ll soon find some closure and learn to maintain a healthy relationship with someone who accepts me for who I am. I sincerely hope you found whatever it was that you were looking for and that your life has gone as planned. I’ve always admired your family and I hope and pray that they are all doing well. They were the kindest and most warm-hearted people I had ever met. They always managed to treat me as if I was one of their own and I will forever be grateful to them for making me feel so special. Never underestimate the impact you might have on someone.”
Renee heard the alarm go off in her bedroom. She realized she had fallen asleep on the couch the night before with her laptop beside her. She hadn’t felt this rested in months.