My dearest husband... It is so difficult to know where to begin, how to consolidate and make sense of two decades worth of time together, during which we have weathered so many changes both individually and as a couple.
I've started this letter many times, deleted it many times, not satisfied with the way I've put my feelings into words.
I don't want to make excuses for myself, nor to diminish the hurt I've caused you, and yet, I also feel I owe you an explanation of sorts, if such a thing is even possible. And by way of explanation, if I appear to be shirking my culpability in any way, please know that is not my intention.
I merely feel that out of respect for you, I need to try to explain the way I am, the way my mind works, and the skewed perception that appears to color most of what I say and do, and which leads you to believe that I was "programmed to hurt you."
I wish I could magically find the right words to express my feelings and give you a glimpse into my innermost thoughts, my very soul, though you've said more than once that you wouldn't want to see inside my mind because it seems so foreign from your own.
As I look back over more than twenty years, I wonder what the exact moment was that I lost you, when you recognized something amiss and began the endless cycle of wanting but not getting what you have every right to: love, affection, passion, companionship....
The list goes on, I know, further subdivisions and subcategories of the myriad ways in which I've failed, not only as a wife but also as a person.
My shortcomings haunt me because they extend like sinister tendrils into every aspect of our relationship; even those things that you once enjoyed with me, things that rendered us closer, things that made us laugh in shared silliness, are now tainted and destroyed.
Oh my dear Monster, if only you knew how much I truly love you; my love has grown over the years as we've lived side by side, and I have never once doubted during that whole time that I made the right choice when I accepted your marriage proposal.
When you asked me to marry you, I said, "Of course," and those words are still true today.
In spite of what has happened between us, I will never regret the decision to spend the rest of my life with you, nor our decision, well into our marriage to expand our family so that our nation of two, wonderfully, became a nation of three, and later still, a nation of four...
Rewinding back to that afternoon in the Grant Humphreys Mansion, as I held your hands in front of our family and friends, I knew deep down in my heart that I wanted to be with you forever and that you and I were meant to be.
I'd never been with anyone like you before; kind, generous, compassionate, loving....not to mention of course how attractive, funny, and talented you are. You were (and are) the fairy-tale partner, the figurative prince or knight in shining armor that every girl dreams she will end up with.
I never really had that dream myself, but I suppose that's because I never saw myself as deserving of such, saw myself instead as the "other" who didn't quite fit in, destined to watch from the sidelines as happy endings were written all around me for everybody else.
When I met you, you were attracted to me, thought I was quirky perhaps, unusual perhaps, but still you found something about me that made you want to take the plunge and commit to being with me forever.
Did you have doubts early on that I would live up to your expectations? Did you sense that I would disappoint you over time, perhaps so subtly that when you finally had a firm grasp on what was happening, we’d been together for many years?
Remembering our wedding day and the conviction I felt, I have held on to that memory for more than twenty years, knowing (hoping?) that there is something inside me that spoke to you so long ago, called out to your heart in some way that happened unconsciously, without effort.
I've read our email exchanges many times, and I can still recall writing the words, the love I felt for you, the absolute wonder that you were mine.
I feel the same today, at the very moment that I'm writing these words: my love, if anything, has intensified as I've watched you become the person you are today, the qualities that I've only been able to witness as our lives have evolved: nurturing, indulgent and loving father, considerate and steadfast husband who is constantly being called on to make sacrifices on my behalf and who does so willingly time and time again.