No, it’s not me; it’s you. I know it seems kind of sudden, but if you had been paying attention, you would have seen this coming for a while.

That’s just the problem, isn’t it? You just don’t seem to pay attention. Sure, you really perk up over stupid stuff, like when people eat food you don’t like, but when I try to talk about things that are important to me, it’s like I’m talking to a wall.

It seemed so right in the beginning. All my friends and family told me you were super loving and supportive, not to mention incredibly intelligent. “A real miracle worker,” they said. They showed me things you had written and told me of things you had done for them. I was very impressed. I wanted to get to know you.

When we were first together I was so happy. I felt like my heart would explode with love. Everything seemed better with you around. The colors were more vibrant, music more dynamic. When I found you, I had the sun, the moon, the stars, and all eternity in my grasp.

I told everyone about you. I bragged about how kind you were and felt so fortunate that of all the people in the world, you had chosen me. I was consumed with a desire to prove my love to you. In doing so, I think I hurt some people. I judged others who didn’t seem to care about you as much as I did, or maybe just not in the way I did.

After a while, the ecstatic emotions started to fade. It wasn’t intentional. In fact, I was trying harder than ever to make you happy. I went to your house every chance I got. I listened to songs and read books that reminded me of you, but I just couldn’t recapture the feelings I had in the beginning. I suppose it’s like that with most things.

I had built my very identity on what I thought you wanted. When I didn’t hear from you, I was devastated. I just wanted so badly to be with you. I felt guilty that the wonderful feelings I had were going away.

As the infatuation fizzled, I started to get a more realistic view of you. I realized that you didn’t like to talk much. Others said you talked to them, but I couldn’t get a word out of you. I tried not to be needy, but sometimes I wondered if you cared at all. I know you were super busy with work, but heck, you even made time to help my cousin find her car keys.

I guess that’s another thing. Your priorities seem so strange to me. You pull all kinds of strings for some people and completely ignore others. You help some people get rich, but you pass by people who are literally starving to death without giving them a glance. You tell people to be nice to each other, but for your job you convince others to commit genocide.

At least, that’s what I hear. You never told me much about your job. Most of what I know about you comes from your friends—you know, the ones who actually wrote those books attributed to you. By the way, they got it wrong on a ton of stuff. Tell them to check the facts before they go on writing about the origins of the world, global floods, and the cosmos.

Now that I think about it, you’ve really got a strange taste in friends. How come the only people who get face time from you almost always end up being racist, anti-scientific, sexist, licentious, homophobic, violent, greedy, or power hungry? I know there are some really really good people who love you. So why don’t you choose one of them as a spokesperson?

Better yet, why don’t you speak for yourself? Everyone says so many different things about you. They can’t agree on anything—what you look like, what you sound like, what things you like, what things you hate, where you’re from, what you actually do. Do you not understand that people are literally fighting to the death over this kind of stuff?

The more I think about it, the more I realize I didn’t actually know you at all. I knew what other people said about you. But I have no way of knowing if what they said was accurate, since they are contradicted by so many other people who also claim to know you.

I guess I loved my idea of you more than I actually loved you. When I struggled, I loved reassuring myself that you would make everything all right. When I saw people in pain, I loved thinking that you would make it up to them. I loved believing that you would help me in school and in work and in other relationships. The belief alone gave me the confidence I needed to succeed.

I thought you wanted me to be kind, so I was. I thought you wanted me to be generous, honest, and hard working, so I was. Because of you, I tried to live my life the best that I could.

Now I understand that those things were not dependent on you at all. They were within me all along. It wasn’t you who made me succeed. It was the belief in you that helped me tap into my own power. At the time, I wasn’t confident enough in myself to see it, but now I know.

Do you remember when I used to feel such an overwhelming sense of love? I used to think that was because of you. I thought I was feeling your love for me and your love for other people. When I considered leaving you, I worried that I would lose that love. But now I know that love I felt was my own. And it’s still with me.

Remember when I started to love learning? I was thrilled because I thought you were teaching me. Now I know that I was learning on my own. The excitement wasn’t your stamp of approval; it was the pure internal delight of finding truth and expanding my mind.

I realize now that I was projecting my highest ideals, my deepest ambitions, and my sincerest hopes on to you, a person I still don’t know much about. I once looked at you through the glass darkly, but now that I stand face to face, I don’t see your image at all; I see my own. The glass was never a window; it was a mirror.

That’s what you really are—a mirror, and the things people say about you must be but mere reflections of their own hearts. Maybe those who say you are violent and vengeful are violent and vengeful themselves. Maybe those who say you are merciful and kind are merciful and kind themselves. Maybe we aren’t created in your image after all; maybe you are created in ours.

If that’s the case, I wish people could know it. Perhaps that way they’d think twice before using you as justification for their malice. Maybe they would feel more confident about their own inherent goodness. Maybe they would think more about how to put that goodness to use instead of outsourcing their charity to you.

You know, as I write this, I actually feel grateful for what I’ve gone through. Maybe I should thank you for your silence because it’s allowed me to find my own voice. Your ambiguity has given me a chance to define myself. When you ignored me in the darkest night of my life, I learned to find my own light.

Some people say I’m crazy for leaving you. They are certain that I’ll regret it. What would I have to regret? Does a child regret learning to walk with its own legs? Does a bird regret learning to fly? You certainly don’t seem too worried. I’m sure if you were bothered, you would have said something by now.

I don’t expect a response. You know I gave up hope for that a while ago. Just know that I am happy—happier than I’ve been in a long time. The colors are vibrant, and music is dynamic once more. I may not have the sun, moon, stars, and the whole universe for eternity, but I feel like I’ve gained the world. And for the first time in my life, I’m not afraid of it.


Tanner Gilliland is a writer, artist, and jazz hands enthusiast based in Salt Lake City, UT. Check out his art on Instagram: @tanner_gilliland, his jokes on Twitter: @tgilliland789, and his poverty on Venmo: Tanner-Gilliland

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