Have you really?
Before I go on, let me tell you a love story.
Once upon a time (more specifically, less than ten years ago), I developed a close friendship with classmate A over late-night IM chats about our crushes, about love, relationships and life in general.
We were both self-identified hopeless romantics. Our similarities seemed endless: we loved writing, hated math, laughed at the same jokes (sometimes to the point of hysterics), and stayed up until 4AM every night chatting about life, after which we dragged our aching bodies out of bed at 5.30AM and then waved wearily to each other when we met in class.
We thought we were soulmates. We told each other so.
We thought our friendship was safe. He had his crush, I had mine.
Alas, our crushes dropped from our lives one by one, and we went from encouraging each other to comforting each other of our losses.
Suddenly our friendship wasn’t so safe anymore. But it didn’t occur to me until he started doing nice things for me. Very nice things.
He hid candy bars in my bag just because. He rode home with me on the train, even if it meant adding 3 hours to his own trip home. He carried my school things. He said he would go wherever I went, even if it was halfway across the world. He said he would always be there for me.
You see where this is going.
For my birthday he made a photo album of our time together, and placed it in a metallic lavender box on a bed of rose petals.
Then one day I found myself shopping for a Special Dress to wear to a concert I was attending with my class. He would be there too.
He stared when he first set eyes upon me, and later told me I looked beautiful.
At first I was reluctant to jeopardize our friendship, but a girl can only resist so much.
I eventually fell for him too.
I still remember the day we went out to “study” (who were we kidding). We ended up sitting on a couch in a library, giggling over web comics while trying (in vain) to keep our voices down. I found myself overwhelmed with emotion (I blame the romantic setting), and before I knew it, I had placed my head on his shoulders. I felt his body tense. After a few seconds, I sat up and went on like nothing had happened.
We went home and logged into IM, as usual. His display name was flooded with grinning emojis.
I had guessed it was related to me (he confirmed it later.)
He confessed that night, and emailed me letters he had written throughout the past few weeks. I read them with a hand cupped over my mouth, tears running down my cheeks. He hadn’t told me he loved me, he said, because he didn’t want to risk our friendship. But he was telling me now.
I told him I didn’t know if I loved him yet, but promised I would when I did.
Our relationship enjoyed a strong kick-off, but you know what they say about a large blaze only lasting for so long, and that it is a low, smouldering flame that lasts forever. I’m not saying this is true for all couples, but it definitely applied here.
Funnily enough, it was his mother who got between us. She was one of those tiger moms, rearing protectively over her only cub.
On hindsight, she might’ve been jealous of me, him being her only son and all that.
Anyway, she hated me from the start. Classmate A was always nervous to introduce me, and when she caught me at his house (the one time I visited his house), she glared at me like I was something dirty.
Later, when she found out that he lied to her about being with a friend when he really was with me, she put him on “house arrest” and restricted him from going anywhere outside of school. She took his cellphone away. He was allowed only limited internet access. All of which is kind of ridiculous, considering he was seventeen.
He fought. Or at least tried to. I couldn’t exactly expect him to rebel against his mom for me.
Nevertheless, it was jarring to both of us. We were used to IMing until 4am every night (bless our sleep deprived souls), texting throughout the day, and hanging out after school. (I strongly advise against this. My grades greatly suffered.)
I became extremely jealous of his time. When he chose to hang out with his friends instead of me, I raged. I’m not proud of how I behaved. Some would call my actions bi-polar. I became this ugly beast I didn’t recognize. I didn’t cope well. He didn’t cope well. I refused to see it then, but we were doomed.
The break-up came when he told me over IM that he would have to cancel our “date” because he was hanging out with a friend. I raged. He apologized with a ton of crying emojis.
Then apparently his mother walked in and started yelling at him. He told me so. He told me there was a lot of crying. And screaming.
Then he told me he was tired. That he didn’t know how he felt anymore. That he was numb.
Have you ever gotten that sinking feeling where you know things will never be back the way they were? When the anchor hits the ground with a heavy thump and you realize the chain has been severed?
I asked him what he meant. I pleaded. I begged. I asked how it could’ve happened so suddenly. I asked what made him change his mind. I was convinced it would be temporary. Didn’t he say he loved me? Didn’t he promise to always be there for me, even in challenging times? Wasn’t he in love with me just a second ago?
He apologized. A lot.
It took a year for me to get over him. The worst part was he was my classmate, and in my country, that meant we were in the same room all the time. Every sight of him plunged a knife into my heart. I had to take regular bathroom breaks so I could bawl my eyes out.
It was horrible. I think of them as the Dark Days.
He promised he wouldn’t find another girlfriend while we were still classmates (we had another year together). He said he didn’t know if he could, anyway; he felt so numb.
For the longest time I thought it was my fault. I thought I had pushed him away with my crazy antics. I raved to my friends and family, and they told me if he wasn’t afraid to push me out of his life he didn’t deserve me. I told them they were wrong. I was crazy, and I deserved every second of this shredding heartbreak.
It wasn’t until I met my husband that I realized it wasn’t my fault.
It was neither of our faults. See, the problem was, we didn’t love each other the way we thought we did.
He didn’t love me for who I was. He loved me for who I occasionally was. He loved the me who thought he was the best thing in the world.
He didn’t love the me who had emotions, or mood swings, or insecurity issues.
So he dumped me.
Was it a loss? No.
Because if he’d never dumped me, I would’ve never met my husband, the one man who taught me to control my moods and become a happier person.
Who embraces my craziness, predicts every little thing I do, and completes my sentences. Who hears a car crash across the street and instantly knew that it was me. Who knows me better than I know myself.
My husband and I have been through some pretty tough times. But we held on. And we are better for it. That is how you know it will last forever. You solve challenges, and you grow.
It doesn’t matter if someone tells you they love you, or will always be with you. If they can imagine a life without you, let go.
So for the girls out there who think you’ve been dumped by the Love Of Your Life, you haven’t. You’re one step closer to finding him.