First I want to say thank you.
Then I will say I'm sorry.

I have to bring up the t-shirt incident -- with its pink sparkle and fury. The t-shirt was your first gift to me and it offended me. It was not my size. It was not my style. It was the opposite of what I thought I stood for. I was angry and I accused you of wanting me to be someone different. Then you were offended, too. You threw the box, got into your truck, and drove away. I should not have stayed with you after that. I would not change anything in my life, not even that, but it was a telling moment. I was given something that challenged my sense of self by someone who would not allow me to express my feelings without threat of abandonment. I had a choice -- to be myself (when I was still so fragile and unsure who that was) or to walk away from someone I had wanted in my life for such a long time.

I wish that I had had the strength and foresight to choose myself.
Not because I ever wanted to be without you, but because it would have saved me from causing you more pain. Maybe our life paths would have been worse, but still, I would have liked to be less trouble in your life. I never wanted you to think badly of me. Even now, I wish I had continued to love you from afar, so that you wouldn't have had so many reasons and opportunities to be unhappy with me.

And I would have liked to have been more accepting and kinder to you. I was judgmental to begin with, and then I spent years trying to stuff myself into that t-shirt out of fear of losing you. Sometimes, I was bitter and depressed and angry and I know I took it out on you. I never meant to hurt you -- I only wanted you to see me. But we were mirrors of disapproval; not well-matched for happily ever after.

I could not have let go. Not for my sake. Not even for yours. You had to make the decision and I'm thankful that you did.

I want you to know I finally learned the lesson you were trying to teach me. I learned to be simply grateful for gifts, even when they offend me. Sometimes those kinds of gifts are especially precious because they put cracks in your ego and let light in so that you can look around your inner space and clean yourself up. Today I am more solidly, more peacefully myself than I could have managed without those years of challenge. Even the last year, before the paperwork was done and I worried that your face would lock itself permanently in that scowling position, that was a gift.

That was when I realized how disastrously I had failed you.
Not by your definition, but by mine.

From the time that I first knew you, I wanted to teach you something. I wanted to teach you how to let go of past hurts and forgive. After your year in Iraq, I wanted more than ever to teach you the meaning of real love, that stands outside of our arbitrary conditioned triggers and makes us all the same, all one. But I didn't know how. And I'm sorry for that. Not because you expected it from me and not because I see you with flaws that need fixing, but because I want you to know the very heights of peace and happiness. But I didn't give you that gift, maybe gave you the opposite, and that's a horror. I was not wise or strong or loving enough. I am still not. But I forgive myself for that and I hope you can forgive me as well.

I hope that you have true and honest love in your life -- the kind that comforts and heals. I'm sorry I hurt you. I'm sorry I failed to teach you about how pain can be a gift -- I didn't learn it myself until you taught me. And thank you, again, for that.