Through the years you had become my crutch. My coping mechanism. You had even become me. The distinction between you and I became very difficult to make. I remember the time you made me feel like I was the ultimate socialite, only to wake up the next morning looking at the aftermath of the carnage I had caused. The empty bottles strewn across the room, the cigarette butts put out in every empty space, and the strangers I had invited home asleep on the couch. I remember the time you made me feel like I was right with every opinion I uttered, only to realize the pain I had inflicted the week after. The loved ones whose secrets I had betrayed, the good friends whom I had alienated, and the shameful statements that passed my lips – it all caught up with me.
Over time I came to realize what effect you were having on me. Only to go back to you because I felt I could not survive life without you. I forgot who I was before you were around. I lost myself in you completely. You captured my heart and took over my life.
Eventually, the hurt became unbearable. I could not cope with the confusion anymore. The pain I was causing was staring back at me. The guilt started making more frequent appearances. I found myself in a place I did not like. Being around you was no longer enjoyable. Spending time with you was not fun anymore. My dislike for you developed slowly. My disdain for you grew intensely.
My original personality started seeping through as I regained control of my life again. I learnt to distinguish between you and me.
I started regaining this control by re-integrating myself back into my old life. I re-discovered my own likes and dislikes. I became re-acquainted with old friends and cut out the ones who were only around to accommodate you. To my amazement, I did all of this on my own, and in the process lost my fear of living life without you.
As my life moved on without you, so my reasons for having you in it diminished. Why did I need you again? What did you offer to the quality of my life again? Who were you to me again? The answers to these questions were now clear. In the previous months, I would not have been able to answer these questions, too afraid of what the answers might have led to.
The clarity of these answers led me to that moment. That moment of acknowledgement had arrived. That moment where I was to discover the ability to have faith in my decisions. That moment that set me free. The strength that I had underestimated within myself suddenly came through for me to embrace.
So I put pen to tear-stained paper, and I wrote a letter to you. I wrote a letter that would encapsulate all that we had been through. I wrote this letter to tell you that we were over, that that this was my cue. This was my goodbye.
Photographer: Austin Malema