33 - Facebook: helping out your fellow coward since 2004.

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Hey, I know I have no right to contact you out of the blue like this, and realistically I don't even know whether you'll read any of it anyway. I hope you will, but I'll understand perfectly if you don't.

There are a few things I want to say to you that I guess I never had the opportunity or means to when we were younger, and this pathetic internet platform is the only way I figured I'd be able to say everything I feel I need to considering I no longer have your number, and I've heard you don't live here anymore. I promise I'll try to keep it as brief as I can and not waste your time any longer than I have already . . .

I've spent a long time over the years thinking about how things were between us when we were kids, and for the majority of that time there was a very big part of me that resented you for everything bad thing that happened. I believed you were the worst thing to ever happen to me and blamed you for making me the depressed wretch I undoubtedly became.

In my effort to try to deal with these feelings, I tried my hardest to just forget the time we spent together altogether and the bad things about us as a couple. Whether that repression was a conscious decision I made, or the by-product of my depression, I can't really say. But in the process of forgetting everything terrible, I also forgot all of the good times we had together, and the parts of you that I truly loved and probably always will.

Your unbridled creativity, which always made me both furiously jealous and proud. Your natural intelligence and wealth of knowledge on just about everything. Your ability to find music that perfectly expressed your mood. Your thoughtfulness and attentiveness. The passion we felt for each other. How similar our lives were in so many ways.

I remember the first time we actually spoke, in Ms Stone's Art class when you caught me gawking at your painting like some obsessed weirdo. You asked me what I saw there, and I said I didn't know. You knew it was a lie, but you didn't say anything about it. Maybe you should have, I don't know. But I do know my answer would be very different now. Actually, it's the same, I'm just less afraid to verbalise it (or write it?). 

What I saw was my darkness recognising your darkness, meeting and converging in the most pure and terrifying of ways. It was your soul speaking so candidly, and mine listening and replying back to yours just the same. A prophetic glimpse into the collective sadness we were about to experience together, and the most accurate portrait someone could have painted of the person I was back then.

It was all of that and more, and it scared me. You scared me. The way you instantly knew me, even though we were strangers to each other. Your confidence and self-assuredness, even with practical strangers. But what scared me most of all was your uncompromising darkness, which ultimately consumed us both in the end.

Those last few days with you were awful. I'm not going to lie and sugar coat it into something it wasn't. They were the worst days of my life, and they have clouded and shadowed every single one that has followed since in one way or another. I know you don't remember what happened that night, but I do, and I won't ever forget that, no matter how hard I try. What I also won't ever forget was you coercing me back by feigning an overdose. It was fucked, Cam, and it was those things like that which you used to do that still mess with me now. The constant drunkenness, the jealousy, the manipulation, the aggression and the control. It was all fucked.

But I want you to know that I forgive you. Truly, I do. I don't want to think of you with hate and resentment like I have, because there was a very big part of me that adored you and everything you introduced into my life. You encouraged me to endure my stepfather and all his bullshit (mostly by threatening to kill him or beat his ass for me haha, but it always distracted me long enough to forget how upset or angry I was with him). You expanded my musical horizons and taught me the art of selecting music to match my mood (my 'Fuck Life' playlist is one even you would be proud of!). You uncovered a competitive fight in me I didn't know I had, and spurred me on to work harder and create more (despite feeling insignificant and amateurish next to you).

But I think the thing you taught me most of all, was how to understand and empathise with others. For so long I was stuck inside my own miserable head just constantly ruminating over all the shit in my family back then—Bree and Madden, my stepfather being a complete asshole, my horribly depressed and abused mother. I wasn't really able to think about anything except how much I hated that that was all my life was, and that I was never given the opportunity to just be my own person, separate from all that shit. With everything that happened with your family, perhaps you understood that feeling, too? That pure exhaustion from trying to keep it together for everyone else's sake, while completely destroying yourself in the process. I could see you trying to do that for your mum, just like I was for mine, but I could also see us both failing miserably. It affected you a lot more than it did me, and there was very little I could do but watch as the boy I thought I knew and loved slowly disappeared into a person I barely recognised.

You weren't okay, Camden, for a very long time. I knew that, and I tried everything I knew of to make things better for you. I did what you wanted when you asked. I remained silent instead of arguing you on things that I really wanted to. And sometimes it would work and you would be okay for a few hours, and I would feel so proud. But it never lasted. Nothing I did seemed to help, and in the end I was just sacrificing my own happiness (and sanity at times) to the hopeless endeavour of trying to keep you okay.

For a while I wondered if you actually wanted to be unhappy just to keep me around and wanting to be there to help you. That's how it felt sometimes. Maybe that wasn't the case, I don't know. It definitely felt that way every time you threatened to kill yourself. Like you wanted me to feel guilty and hate myself enough to stick around a little while longer. I fucking hated you for that, every, single, goddamned, time. It was cruel, and it was messed up, and I couldn't understand how you could do that to me after everything I did for you.

Thankfully, I'm a little more understanding in my old age. Over the years I've floated between both hating you for making me a regretful nutcase and making excuses for you in my head because I knew that you weren't okay. But neither of those were fair on you (or either of us?), because the reality was, we were both already broken when we got together. Our families saw to that a long time before we ever met, and no amount of regret or wishful thinking is going to change that fact.

But the more important, unchangeable fact in all this is that, despite everything—including the depressed, alcoholic and abused parents we spawned from and were raised by, and how their ridiculous lives shaped our own skewed teenage perceptions of love and happiness—I loved you, Cam, more than I ever should and I probably always will. And I want you to know I will never regret that I loved you. I owe the person I am now, at least in some part, to you. You were the catalyst for a great many changes in me, and I am so grateful and thankful to you for that.

I now have a beautiful life with Madden. He'll be as good a skater as you were at seventeen, I'm sure of it. I have wonderful friends and family (now my asshole stepfather is gone, at least). And I finished my Social Work degree and am now counselling students even more messed up than we were as teenagers—if you can imagine that!

I truly don't believe I would have all that if it weren't for the years we spent together, the things I learned about life from you, and the things you taught me about myself, intentionally or otherwise. From the deepest depths of my heart and innermost corners of my soul, thank you.

I wish you every happiness in the world, Camden. I hope more than anything that you have found peace from those demons that chased us both as kids, and that your life is everything that you imagined it could be.

(You don't need to reply. Please don't feel obliged to do so. I just wanted you to know that I did love you, and that there are no longer any hard feelings. The cliché of that almost kills me, but I don't know how else to phrase it. I'm okay now, and I hope so much that you are, too).

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