I will never forget the way it felt to be the one to break your heart. The guilt I felt for no longer feeling like our relationship was enough. The internal struggle I went through for months of fighting to hang on, and fighting to let go, unsure of which emotion I wanted to follow. For months, my head told me to hang on, that it was a phase, that I would be grateful in the future if I stayed. However, my heart knew a long time ago that something just wasn’t right.
I wanted so badly to believe that I was wrong. I wanted to believe there was no way we had grown apart, and that even if we had, that it wasn’t big enough to break us up. I wanted to believe that the long distance was to blame, that if we just finally spent some time together, we could have it all. I wanted to cling to our history, to the laughter, to the wonderfully ignorant bliss we’d been able to survive in for so long.
I let us move forward with planning a wedding, and I let you convince me that all my doubts were normal. I let you convince me that if we just kept the positive memories in mind and looked toward the future, everything would work itself out. The truth is, with each step we took towards a wedding, the harder it was to breathe.
I stopped sleeping the moment we booked a venue. I stopped breathing the moment I bought a dress. I wanted to cry the moment we booked a photographer, and the thought of booking the DJ sent me into a panic attack.
As it turns out, when your heart and your head are in conflict, you make irrational decisions. You can convince yourself to do anything if you find a reason to rationalize the action. I found several reasons to rationalize hanging on, because the thought of letting go was just too painful. I have loved you for what feels like my entire life. We met when we were in the third grade, and we’ve been best friends since middle school. We’ve been together for nine years, with the plan for this fairytale ending of a wedding on our tenth anniversary. It was the perfect story. Two kids became friends, beat the odds, fell in love, helped each other grow and taught each other how to live and how to love. They’d always loved and supported each other, and they were going to grow old together.
The plan was perfect, except for one fatal flaw: life is not a fairytale. If I could go back and tell my eighteen-year-old self one thing, I’d tell her to try hard to understand that life will never turn out exactly how you plan it, and to trust your heart the minute something feels off. I’d tell her not to settle, even for one second, for anything she didn’t truly want. I’d tell her to be confident in herself and believe that she is worth not only something, but she is worth everything. She is worth fighting for, and she deserves someone who believes so, too.
Don’t get me wrong, I am not saying that we had a bad relationship, and I am not saying that I regret our time together. Growing up with you was the best part of growing up. You brought laughter into my life at a time I did not think it was possible to laugh, and for that, I will always be grateful. You were always kind, and you truly are a wonderful man. There was no big, traumatic event that made it all fall apart. We simply grew up, and with that, we grew apart.
As painful as it was to admit, we want different things, and I think that maybe on some level, we’ve always known that. I like a schedule, you like flexibility. I like small towns, you like big cities. The only hobby we have in common is binge-watching shows on Netflix. There is a reason we we’ve always been good at a long distance relationship, and I think that reason is that we like living separate lives. We are very different people, but we’ve always taken pride in our ability to maintain our separate lives while being in a loving relationship. What we’ve learned the hard way is this: sometimes, love is not enough.
Every relationship will have ups and downs, all partners get annoyed with each other and have bad days. But one thing I know for sure is that phases do not last a year. Phases are passing feelings, normal worries, normal rough patches that occur when you’re figuring out how to live with one another and deal with life’s challenges together. But when you feel something deep in your heart, and it starts to consume you every moment of every day, keeping you from sleeping, keeping you from feeling OK – you have to find the courage to trust this feeling, even if it seems impossible.
When you finally let your head listen to your heart, it is going to hurt like hell. It is going to feel worse than any other feeling you’ve ever experienced in your life. You are going to spend hours, days, maybe even months trying to fight it, feeling confident about a decision only to feel entirely different the minute you try to act on it. Know that the longer you take to act, the harder and more painful it will be for everyone involved. When you know what you need to do, act as soon as possible. Stop waiting for the right moment, because there will never feel like a right moment to break someone’s heart.
I have learned a lot from ending my engagement. I have learned that sometimes, no matter how hard you fight, things just aren’t going to work out. I have learned that you should never, ever, feel guilty for feeling what you feel. I have learned to trust myself, because life is too short to be unhappy. I have learned that one of the greatest mistakes you can make in life is to live in fear of making a mistake. I was absolutely terrified of making the wrong choice, which actually led me to make all the wrong choices for almost a year. I put walls up, and I hid my feelings, and I was so afraid of hurting someone that, in the end, I hurt that person, myself, and others more than I had to.
Even though we didn’t work out, I do not think we failed. We were there for each other in the times we needed support most. We loved as deeply and as ignorantly as all teenagers do. We had something really wonderful for almost half of our lives. You helped me through some of the worst moments of my life, and you gave me some of the best ones. I do not regret our lives together, and I would not change a thing. I believe that we will grow from this experience, and I believe it will teach us to value ourselves as individuals. I believe that the pain will fade, and I believe we will be friends. I believe that, one day, we will find love again. And this time, we will know to trust ourselves, and it will be beautiful. I wish nothing but the best for you, and I will always be grateful that I spent almost ten years of my life with you by my side.