the letter

By Tracie Nichols

A letter from a recovering codependent.


The alcohol has you, and I don’t. Your righteous—and rightful—anger has you. Your depression, confusion, and tanked self-worth are louder than my exhausted love could ever be.

It’s breaking my heart.

You asked for my help (again), then discarded it (again). Excuses slurring through your endless apologies.

I’m afraid my heart is too broken to be anything but angry, anymore.

I let you feel my frustration and heard the rumble of fears coming true. The fragile bridge between us collapsed; holding only long enough for a few terse closing sentences and strained I love you’s.

I miss you already.

I will not beat myself bloody (again) on the walls you’ve put up. I cannot save you. You cannot see that.

I’m not even certain I can save myself.

Every resource I have I’m pouring into not howling and rending my skin in a tantrum of guilty self-destruction. Because, beloved, I feel relieved not to be walking the minefield of our conversations, anymore.

Devastated not to be hearing your voice.

To love you, I need to let you founder, and learn how strong you are. How much you can truly trust yourself. How beautiful you are.

Please, please learn this.

To love myself, I need to say how hard this is. How often I stop short in the midst of something ordinary with this prayer slamming into my heart over and over and over again, “Please, let this be the right thing.”

I’m terrified.

To love us, I need to live the paradox of standing strong, covered in the dust of our exploding relationship amid heart fragment rubble. Not “enabling,” creating “healthy boundaries.”

Goddess, how I love and hate all those words represent.

It’s the not knowing, though. That’s the stinking, wretched, 4000 pound, screeching creature swinging from my throat. Will this work or will another fear come true?

I keep forgetting to breathe.

I cannot lose you. We share cells and marrow blood. Your laughter, your sensitivity, your kindness—oh Goddess, how can I watch them fade into grim self-hatred? Or worse, look into your brilliant eyes and see only emptiness and shadow?

I fantasize about ripping the “healthy boundaries” apart and rescuing you (again).

So, I drag myself off the floor into Goddess Pose. Feel my paper-dry, cried-out, soul suffused with fierce, feminine, sap, rising from the Great Mother. I move shakily into Warrior II pose, wobbling, standing, wavering, settling, as the Earth twines her sacred strength around my reluctant legs.

The Earth, my body, my breath—these are solid and real.

I love you, achingly, as I love myself. Love and boundaries and strength from the Earth are what I have—all I have—holding me together, right now. I don’t know what’s holding you together. Or, have you flown apart?

I miss you already.



Photo: wolfgangfoto/flickr

Editor: Alicia Wozniak