Is there a limit to human emotion?

I had an emotional reunion/separation from a significant personality in my life the other day, who broke my heart and spent the 13 months since being disappointing to a level I couldn’t have imagined. See my previous posts for some of the details.
During our discussion, which took place on a beautiful beach, at the base of a cliff overlooking a lighthouse, he described me as “biggest person he knew – with never-ending warmth, and untold bubbling depths of anger.” He was referring to how deeply I feel my emotions and, in truth, I can’t disagree with him.

His comments prompted lots of thoughts about myself which led on to thoughts about the wider world and concept of emotions and emotional depth – the factors that influence them and the question Is there a limit to how deeply someone can feel something? Is an emotion finite?

Happiness – can you only feel so much before it stops? Sadness? Anger?

Supposedly humans have six base emotions: happiness, sadness, anger, surprise, fear and disgust. All of the other, more complex, emotions are made up of combinations of these six. But if you’re feeling one in its pure form – is there a limit to it? Or can you feel it to untold intensities? The theory of the six base emotions describes that these emotions evolved to allow humans to face the ecological threats we came up against during the most challenging time for our species, they are hardwired into us with each emotion having a distinct neurological circuit in our brain.
Babies and young children do not experience complex emotions as far as we know, they appear to be something we learn to do as we grow, presumably as we learn how to make connections between the different base circuits. If people learn it differently, or at different rates, will they experience base and complex emotions in different proportions?

It is well documented that learning or remembering something is achieved by repetitively stimulating the electrical circuit of that memory or fact in your brain: going over and over it will make it stick. The analogy of walking over a field of long grass to make a path – the more times you walk over the grass the more permanent the path becomes. Is this true of emotions as well? If we experience an emotion frequently, do we get better at experiencing it? Does it become easier to achieve that emotion? Do we default to it more readily? Does it become almost like a reflex? In the way a piano players hands will automatically play a song with which they are familiar if the player isn’t concentrating on the song she is playing?
Following along this line of thought, is frequency of emotional experience something that influences depth of emotional experience? There is the obvious confounding factor in this that frequency of actual experience will cause an emotional response of its own: the response to constant disappointment is more than the sum of the response to the individual disappointments.

Is depth of emotional experience related to anything else? Does someone who has unlimited capacity for understanding facts or complex concepts more likely to have unlimited capacity for experiencing emotions, base or complex? It would be silly to try and argue that the most intelligent people are those with the most emotional scope, as that is very obviously not universally true. But is there a similar concept for emotional experience? Intelligence and brain capacity is dictated largely by the brain’s capacity for making electrical connections between different parts of itself. If the base emotional circuits of the brain is highly wired, that must mean that emotions are felt more deeply, than a less wired emotional brain.

(This is different to EQ, the emotional quotient, which pertains more to understanding of other people’s emotions. I think. I’m not an EQ expert. Although I assume I have a good one.)

People’s brains are wired differently. That’s why some people are generally intelligent, and some are really good at one thing. It’s obviously not quite as simple as being good at maths of your brain has lots of connections, but that’s an easy way to think of it without getting too bogged down in the neuroscience of the situation. So are people with a generally well-wired brain (read: those with the potential for huge learning and knowledge) more likely to have a well-wired emotional centre, and therefore a greater depth of emotion, and a greater capacity for complex emotion? The development of the brain, with regard to intelligence is dictated by antenatal factors (including genetics, antenatal environment and stress felt in the womb, as well as antenatal toxins and infections), perinatal factors (how much stress is felt by the baby during the labour and birthing process) and post-natal factors (mainly the environment and stimulation over the first few years of life, when the brain is growing and laying down its main connections). If a person with excellent genetics has a completely lovely pregnancy, a stress-free birth, and a delightfully relaxed and stimulating first few years they are in a great position, neurally-speaking.
I personally think that there’s potentially no end to how far a person can understand facts and the complexities of, say, engineering, or computing, or something else very clever… and I guess that I think there must not be an end to how deeply a person can feel a base emotion, in the right circumstances.

The right circumstances must include no competing emotions. I know that I’ve had times when I’m really really happy with one aspect of my life, but the depth to which I feel that happiness (the height to which I feel that happiness?) is marred slightly by a dissatisfaction about some other aspect of my life. That is different to being very happy about one aspect of a situation, and having that feeling be marred by a dissatisfaction about some aspect of the same situation – that would lead to a complex emotion, rather than just limiting the base emotion.
If there are no competing emotions, I think a base emotion could probably be felt to uncharted depths in an optimally-wired brain (the lucky person described above with the clever genetics, nice pregnancy and stimulating infancy). Maybe that’s why ‘getting your mind of it’ is so effective. If you’ve got nothing to distract you from your sadness, or your happiness, or your anger, you just keep going into it.

 

I suppose it’s a similar concept to boredom…

The psychology phrase “mood is to affect as whether is to climate” describes quite nicely what the word affect means. As far as I can figure it, it’s sort of the default emotion of your brain, which is base in childhood and becomes more complex with age – as the ability to form complex emotions grows. If you have no current situations that are leading to engagement of your emotional centre, your affect circuit just fires up. Maybe that explains why some people – those with happy affects – are happy when they haven’t got much going on, happy just plodding along; and some people are glum, or melancholy, or something else poetic.

 

And what about those people with emotional centres that aren’t well wired… either those with brains that have a generally lower capacity for making connections, or those who have an under-wiring of just their emotional circuits.
Perhaps the emotional centre has an impact on the rest of the brain. Could it be that we take in information in such a way as to achieve the emotion we have the capability of? If it is that the base emotions evolved and are hard-wired into us, then they are more primal than the some of the other functions of our brains. People with limited comprehension, say someone with a learning disability due to a brain defect, will often see things as more ‘black and white’ than someone with a greater cognitive ability, and may have a narrower, less deep, emotional range. Which bit came first? Does the limited understanding mean that they don’t grasp the complexities of things and therefore their emotional centres are being triggered by more simple stimuli, which is convenient because their emotional centres are less able to deal with more challenging stimuli; or is it that their emotional centres dictate how the information they’re taking in is processed by their cognitive centres? Does our brain limit its intake to what it can handle emotionally?

 

Lots of questions in this post. Answers on a postcard please.

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I gave him the letter

I wrote a letter to the man who broke my heart, a version of it is in my previous post – please, do have a read.

 

I gave it to him and watched him read it.

I had tried to plan for how to respond to any possible reaction from him, and, of course, he found a way to respond that I hadn’t considered.

Which was unsatisfactory.

I sort of knew that that’s what would happen. He, and men in general, have a way of disappointing you with the anti-climax you weren’t expecting.

The whole thing was terribly cinematic: we’d had a coffee, and another cup, and genuinely pleasant conversation. Well, genuinely pleasant covered in a veil of suspicion that everything coming out of his mouth was only a half-truth.
He asked if we could move out of the coffee shop to read the letter, we walked on the beach and he elected to sit on the sand by a rock. He read the letter at an appropriate pace, and didn’t flinch at the unpleasant bits. He didn’t get up and walk off immediately after, which was one of the outcomes I’d planned for.

I spoke first, acknowledging that it was harsh.

He said a lot of what was in the letter was news to him. Which may or may not be true. I pointed out that he has a habit of leaving me with teasing cliff-hanger statements like that. Which bits were news to him? I knew he wouldn’t answer, so asking was pointless. He hadn’t realised he had raped me. I clarified that that wasn’t the worst thing he did. Not by a million miles. A point I’d gone to the trouble of typing in bold in the letter. He didn’t tell me what else was ‘news’.

I expended a small amount of energy encouraging him to talk about his mind-set and thought process; I hadn’t intended to do this, but was prompted to by my own emotional reaction to his reading the letter – further evidence that I am still going through the healing process. That energy expenditure was not a completely worthwhile exercise, but was more fruitful than I had anticipated. I at least gleaned enough of a reaction to be perhaps a little more convinced that I had had some effect on him during our time together and apart.

All in all, I have come out of the meeting feeling the way I expected to – kind of unchanged. And as unfulfilled as ever by the man who broke my heart.

 

Is the veil that covered our pleasant conversation with suspicion a sign that my heart is finally catching up with my head in realising that this man cannot be trusted and no word is to be believed? Is my acceptance of his unwillingness to share his emotions with me further signage of the same? I hope so.

My fatal flaw, should my life ever be written as a Shakespearean tragedy, is that I take a long time to fully own my emotions. My head is much cleverer than my heart. I hope that what I’ve done today, and how I’ve felt about it – the sense of finality marred by only the most minor of regrets for lost love – is proof that I’m nearly at the point where I can mean it when I say “Don’t cry because it’s over, smile because it’s finally fucking over.”

 

Postscript: When I got home, I re-read the letter. I found an error, well two really – but at one stage I’ve written “you’re” instead of “your”. I would previously have thought that he would have immediately spotted it, and just not pointed it out out of politeness, now I’m not sure. But I couldn’t take the risk. I sent him a message making him aware that I knew there was a syntax error in there. He hasn’t replied.

In a way, does the error make the letter a little better? Or a little worse?

 

A letter to the guy who broke my heart

To the guy who broke my heart,

I still think about you. Less than I used to, but more than some people would say that I should. Perhaps you think that it’s mad that I have any more thoughts to tell you about what happened in our five weeks. I have told you so many things that there cannot possibly be any emotion left in the compartment of my heart that was once occupied by you. Some of the things I have told you have been contradictions in themselves. Largely this is due to your unwillingness to engage with any meaningful discussion about what happened. I have been asking you for your side of the story for a very long time, and I suspect I will never hear it… if you even still remember it.

Even if we never speak again, I will always be ready to hear what happened from your side.

Lots of the things I lay down in this letter are thoughts that I’ve already told you, whether you listened to them or not. Some are new – the product of active and passive reflection over the last 13 months. 13 months reflection for a five week relationship.

13 months reflection for a five week relationship.

Five weeks.

I have felt so stupid for having such strong feelings about such a short period of time, as if intensity of emotion should be proportional to time spent together. This feeling of stupidity, and the once-held belief that the brevity of our relationship meant the emotional fallout was invalid, led me to believe I was unworthy of recognising what happened as being as significant for me as it was. I think that that was part of the problem: every emotion I had was caveated by “it was only five weeks’. That distracted me from acknowledging so many other factors that led to one of the most emotionally transformative periods of my life.

We met on tinder – I can’t remember who asked for our first date. I remember it was the first Wednesday in June. I’d had a man stay for the weekend just before, he was soon moving to Copenhagen and I was scared that I would become strung out when he left. After discussion with some friends, it was decided that I needed a ‘palate cleanser’ …that was what you were meant to be. After five minutes of our first date I didn’t think about that man for months.

Our first date was perfect. Until the end.

Until you raped me.

Rape.

I wonder if you identify with that word.

I have never felt so clearly that I didn’t want to have sex with someone that I was attracted to. It was actually reasonably out of character for me. But I knew I didn’t want to – I could explain my reasons here, but I don’t have to, because reasons don’t matter. I was very clear with my words and my actions that I did not want to have sex with you. And you did it anyway. I remember the feeling after you stopped – you didn’t even finish. After I lay there motionless whilst you removed my pyjamas and put your uncovered penis inside me, you didn’t get the response you wanted: I didn’t wrap my legs around you and pull my fingernails across your back, kissing your neck. After a while, a minute, an hour, a lifetime, you said “you’re not into this” and stopped – rolling on to your back beside me.

The feeling I had was one of disappointment, which wasn’t what I would have expected to feel after a rape. My perfect guy was imperfect. Everything was ruined – I knew it then, but I didn’t want to acknowledge it. I was tired of the tragic merry-go-round of dating and only meeting assholes, I decided that the other parts of you were worth ignoring it for. Ignoring the horrible big red flag that I should have waved in the face of everyone you knew. Instead I used that red flag to wrap up that little memory, somewhere in the back of my brain.
Everything should have ended there. When I get to the stage where I can talk more openly about the fact that I was raped, I might end the story differently: tell the sympathetic faces of my friends that I made you leave, screamed at you and chased you from my house, to spend the £40 on a taxi home – the whole reason you were in my house anyway.

You acknowledged the rape only once, on what was maybe our second date – when we did have sex. We had a perfunctory chat about condoms. I acknowledged that you hadn’t used one the first time, and you told me – in a way that I don’t think you meant to be threatening – that nothing was going to stop you having sex with me that night. That comment got wrapped up in the red flag as well.

I remembered neither the rape nor the unpleasant comment for weeks – it wasn’t until a month after our break-up, when I was eating tapas with your other girlfriend, that it came back to me. I told her, and she was sympathetic. I have since told two people – my mother and my sister. Doubtless I will tell more people in time. It occurs to me every so often that it happened, but it isn’t a constant nagging presence. I acknowledge the reality of being a professional, middle class woman in 21st century Britain, with no desire to have my reputation and sexual history discussed in public. No one has encouraged me to report you.

Raping me was not even close to being the worst way you violated me.

The rest of our time together was blissful. Genuinely some of my happiest times. You made me feel so worthwhile and so good about myself. I remember suggesting that we go to the beautiful Lost Gardens, and you commented that you were so happy to be with someone that wanted to do things like that. Hearing you say that made my heart sing with happiness and pride. Not only could you tolerate me – you were pleased with what I was like, you wanted me. No one had ever made me feel like that before.

I asked you once in your kitchen about your previous relationships. You told me of your longest. I asked about your most significant, and you looked as if you’d been caught – you had been hoping that by talking about your longest relationship, you wouldn’t have to mention your most significant. You pretended our whole time together that you and she weren’t so significant any more. You mentioned her occasionally, casually. The American. I don’t know if you thought I didn’t notice that your phone lit up with her name multiple times a day, but you never made an excuse for it. I was sure your feelings for her still lingered, and were stronger than you would have led me to believe, I felt threatened by her.

I had sex with a friend of mine shortly before you and I broke up – over breakfast with him the following day I was lamenting this ex-girlfriend of yours in America, and he commented that I had a significant old flame in London – I shouldn’t be the one who was worried. I am so glad I cheated on you. It felt awful at the time, and part of me wishes I hadn’t done it, then I could feel the smug satisfaction of truly being a wronged woman. But now that all is done, I am glad: I have always been someone who sabotages the good things in her life in myriad minor ways. Sabotaging my relationship with you allows me to see it as an episode in my life in which I was consistent with my own identity. In many ways that five weeks was completely unique in my life, it felt perfect and I was so actively happy, and if it had have been that perfect, happy, unique thing that was taken away from me by your manipulative ways, I would have been even more devastated. The fact that I ruined it a little makes it just a bit easier to swallow.

You knew that I felt insecure about your feelings for The American, you had been clear that you two had only broken up because circumstances dictated. I have a horribly vivid memory of you holding me warmly by the arms – your hands almost encircling my shoulders – and saying, over and over again that you couldn’t be happier.

You couldn’t be happier. You couldn’t be happier with anyone else. I was the thing that was making you happy and you didn’t want anyone else. American or otherwise.

She was part of your manipulation, you used her very cleverly. I remember that night at the theatre, it was like something out of a book: champagne, sunset, play about the kind of shit that I love. An American play. And on the way home, you talked about your American friend’s thoughts on it – she’d studied it in high school. I knew it was her you were talking about. You had told her what you were doing with your evening, except we both knew you hadn’t told her that it was with me. I rationalised that in my head – of course you hadn’t told her yet, it was too soon and you guys had been really significant for each other. I didn’t hold any bad feelings towards you for not telling her about me, I genuinely completely understood.
That’s why it hurt so much more when you told me, the night before the day when everything ended, that you had told her you’d met someone special. An Irish doctor, who was becoming a big part of your life. You told me over dinner – you were nervous to tell me. I hadn’t even asked you, you just came out with it. You’d clearly thought about your decision to tell her. It was incredibly sweet and made me feel like the king of the world.

My guy was so serious about me, he’s told his ex-girlfriend about me.

It was a lie of course, you’d never said anything to her about me – you told me that later: “I never mentioned you, by name or in passing.”

It’s chilling that you knew how to use her to manipulate me. You knew parts of my brain better than I did, you knew how to work them to your advantage, whether consciously or unconsciously. Part of that still makes me nauseated.

On the last night we spent in my bed you put your hand on my back and commented on my ‘frontier freckle’. The last freckle on my back if you’re gaze is scrolling from my shoulders to my hips. You told me that you looked forward to being able to put your finger on it without looking. You wanted to know my body so well that you’d be able to locate my frontier freckle without your eyes. The feeling that you wanted me with that permanence was probably the most exciting thing you said the whole time we were together. You wanted me. And I have longed forever to have someone like you want me like that.
Not long after we broke up I went to the beach and lay there all day with no suncream on – desperate to get sunburnt so that my frontier freckle would move and your special place on my back would be gone. I don’t know if it worked – it felt like it did, I couldn’t lie down for about a week – but I can’t see that part of my skin to make sure. The freckle-map of my back is another part of me that you knew better than I do.

The night before everything ended was glorious. After dinner, where you made me feel like the king, we drank wine, then whisky in your summer house. We spoke about being teenagers, we listened to Regina Spektor and talked about real things. You talked about money. We smoked cigarettes and kissed on your brand new deck chairs. It was so blindingly delightful that the other red flags didn’t even register with me. A girl, V, had been texting you… the V from dancing? V that you used to sleep with before me? V who you hardly saw any more – she’d thrust a graduation congratulations card into your hand when you’d passed each other at your last dance lesson. That’s why that card was sitting on your hearth. She’d texted you a lot that night, she seemed upset. You must have seen some panic briefly register on my face and you placated me with some story that made her seem desperate and then went back to describing our near parallel upbringings. We didn’t have sex that night, but in a nice way – you didn’t force me.
But you knew that she made an impression on me, that’s why you asked me if you could see her the next day. It was a weird thing to ask me as you dropped me off at work. Did I mind if you practised dancing with her today? Of course I didn’t mind! As long as you didn’t sleep with her… oh don’t worry, you said, you didn’t want to sleep with anyone that wasn’t me ever again. Those were your actual words, just before I left your car. I wonder if they rang in your ears as you fucked her that night. She told me that you fucked her in the ass that night – I don’t know if that’s true, or if she just said it for shock value. I’ll never know. It doesn’t matter I suppose.

It sounds silly but I knew. That day I knew. I had been floating on a cloud until about six o’clock. Then I started to feel unsettled. I had about three hours left at work when you texted me to tell me you were going out down south with the dancing crew. I don’t know how I knew but I did. I felt sick at the thought of it, I tried to blame it on the wine from the night before.

In my over-compensation I told some of the other staff about my wonderful boyfriend, it was the first time I’d used that word.

When I got home from work I realised that I’d left my make-up bag in your car. Not the end of the world. But it gave me a reason to explore my paranoia. You’d already texted me to say that you were in bed, your night had been ok, but you were tired now. I messaged back to tell you about my make-up – could I come by and pick it up. I was sitting on the end of my bed writing the messages. I had an ache in my stomach, I knew you were cheating on me. I was scared now: I didn’t want to know. I needed a way to get out of this. I told you to leave the make-up bag in your summer house and I’d pop round and get it without waking you up – if you were in bed with another woman, you wouldn’t even have to come downstairs to see me. It would all be fine.

No, you said, it was raining and your car was all the way at the top of the hill. You’d drop my make-up bag round in the morning. The most un-you thing you could have said. I got in the car and drove to your house.

Your car wasn’t at the top of the hill – it wasn’t anywhere in the village. You weren’t at home. You’d left the door open. Your bed was empty. My toothbrush – the toothbrush you’d bought me – was still in the bathroom, nestled up beside yours. Along with the half-used bottle of girly shampoo that you’d told me was something you’d brought from your old house in case I might like it. An excuse I’d never quite believed, but didn’t want to explore.
I wish I could be theatrical and say the rest of that night was a blur, but it’s not. I remember very clearly finding V on Facebook – she’d recently lost her dog and had put up a public Facebook post saying what neighbourhood she lived in, it was 2am by the time I got there. I don’t know how long your car had been there. You’d left it unlocked. You’d moved my make-up bag from the front seat to the boot, presumably so that V wouldn’t see it. It’s only now – writing this letter – that I realise that you knew the whole day that my make-up bag was in your car. If you had have told me early on that you had it and you’d bring it to me the following day that whole thing would have been avoided. Sloppiness on your part… maybe it was the wine from the night before.

I didn’t even try to keep my composure that night. I threatened to burn your house down. I wasn’t able to get in touch with you, and those threats were my only way of ensuring you wouldn’t ignore me the next day – you could have done.

I didn’t sleep that night.

You called me as I was getting ready for work the next day. You told me, after a tussle, that you’d been with V. That you’d slept together. It was the first – no the second – ok the third time. I couldn’t make a decision. I knew the whole perfect thing was ruined, but over the course of my morning at work, it maybe got a little better. I was working alone and you were in touch. You brought me lunch, admittedly with the wrong flavour of Lucozade, but whatever. We sat on a picnic bench and you told me that our glorious night in your summer house was the closest you’d felt to love in however long. I told you that I’d cheated on you too and maybe this could be the start of ‘Us’ properly. Honestly. You said you wanted that. I said I wasn’t sure. You told me you’d help me decide.
V was in touch too. I’d sent her a message when I found your empty bed that she was with my boyfriend, and she had replied saying that she had no idea… she hadn’t done it on purpose. She was grateful that I’d told her – she’d had her fair share of creeps in the past and was glad to have you pointed out as one. We exchanged messages in a friendly way. Like a sisterhood. It was nice, but unusual.

You picked me up from work that night, you’d brought me risotto in a Tupperware in case I declined your offer to come back to your house. I didn’t decline and we spent the night in your bed. You’d moved it after our glorious night. Upstairs. It was different. You didn’t touch me. The morning was nice. You made me coffee and dropped me to work. I had to call past my house to get changed and you waited – we made plans for you to assemble my new flatpack sofa bed, such banalities reinforced the foreverness of ‘Us’. The sofa bed is still only partially made 13 months on…
You asked me if I’d go for dinner with you that night and I was over the moon. I was really excited to start our new honest chapter.

That day at work things were better. I was almost feeling better. We were going to be fine.

Then V messaged me.

Just to say hello, and check that I was ok after our difficult weekend. It was unmeasurably kind of her. We got talking and it all came out – she was supportive of my plan to see if you and I could make it work again, although she was definitely not going to try anything like that with you. You were very much to be cut out of her life. As part of this discussion it came out that your relationship with her was very different to how you’d painted it to me. To be honest, reading about the things that you guys had been doing made me wonder how you had so much energy: it seemed that nearly every night we weren’t together you were with her. You’d sent us the same selfies, you’d sent us the same “goodnight beautiful” messages. You’d even sent the same dirty messages on your drive home from your friend’s wedding. She replied. I didn’t. I have never felt more sickened or angry.

Anyway, that’s when I decided to try and get a theatrical revenge on you. V and I met up – having an emotional hug in the ladies room, with you ordering our celebration drinks at the bar; you had raised an eyebrow when I told you I wanted you to order four shots of tequila. They were to go in your face after V and I exposed you for what you were. In retrospect it was a stupid idea – but it was the catharsis I needed at the time. And it provided an amusing anecdote to tell in the coffee room, or over a glass of Pinot Noir: then I wouldn’t have to admit how broken I was by the demise of my five-week tinder relationship.

I’d been cheated on before, numerous times. The first time I’d dealt with it nobly, taking the high road and maintaining my dignity. My patience with being cheated on has diminished over the years, and that was definitely a contributing factor in my entirely undignified behaviour after we broke up. I told The American what you’d been up to, in case you guys were still together, as I now suspected you were. She never responded to me – perhaps she doesn’t have the fortitude of V. I plagued you with messages and threats, which I don’t regret – it was what I needed to do.

You could have stopped it all by sitting down and telling me what was going on in your head. But you never did. Your silence made it almost impossible to move on. You had been this incredibly perfect person in my head, and then I found out all this awful stuff, and it was too difficult to reconcile the ‘you’ that I had known, with the ‘you’ that it transpired was real.

We met up a few weeks after this all panned out. You’d been in America I think. I got unfeasibly drunk and am so blessed that I genuinely don’t remember what happened. I remember kissing in an alleyway, I remember asking you to have sex with me and your saying no. I remember running after you in the street. It was too embarrassing to remember any more, so I am grateful to the horrendous sherbet cocktail that pushed me over the edge into oblivion. You were kind about it. We met for breakfast a while later, and agreed you would come round for dinner – I had grand plans to get you back, so when you couldn’t make it I was broken and had to tell you. I couldn’t have any contact with you.

Every few months over the past year the desire to see you has come back, with varying degrees of intensity. Almost invariably, this desire has resulted in an initially casual, increasingly emotional exchange of text messages and a re-drawing of the no contact arrangement. It’s all been one sided. You have sent me one unprompted text message, and you’ve never exposed your real emotions to me. You’re better at this than I am. These exchanges have made me feel embarrassed and stupid, and weak and are definitely at odds with what I would advise any sane woman to do.

I would love to think that you’re pining on the inside, that I take up as much space in your brain as you’ve taken up in mine. But I have to look at the picture as a whole.

You manipulated me, you broke my heart, you raped me, and you refused to take my response to your lying seriously.

As I grow in age and maturity I can’t avoid it anymore, some people just aren’t nice people. Some people really are horrible. And you are one of them. I can’t make excuses for you anymore. You were horrible to me because you are a horrible person.

You are a horrible person and that is why you were horrible to me. I don’t think it’s more complicated than that.

I’m moving away now, not because of you – because of work. Living here has been fantastic for me, I have loved this county and have made some great friends and some fantastic discoveries on this journey to find myself, as a person and as a doctor. I have to be honest though, it was largely sullied by you. Because you were really horrible to me. That made me sad directly, and has had a knock-on response with other relationships.

A feeling I’ve carried with me since I was 11 (I remember the day it first occurred to me) was that no one would ever fully love me, and I would never be anyone’s forever person. And similarly, I would never feel that way about someone. You were the first person who made me feel really loved, even though we never said it to each other. And you were the first person I felt that deeply about. I tried to explain that to you in your summer house on our glorious last night. The line “I never loved nobody fully, always one foot on the ground” was the reason I’d put on Regina Spektor in the first place. The way everything ended showed me that I was right – I probably won’t be someone’s forever person, and probably no one will love me the way I dream of. Because probably that’s not really real.

I’m not expecting a response to this letter, not because I feel one isn’t justified – I think it would be polite to respond; but because I suspect you won’t bother. The part of me that sees the good in people would say that it will be because you’re too sad or emotional about what happened, but the part of me that sees the reality of the situation will say that it’s because you just don’t care.