I met you three years, ten months, and thirteen days ago.
I remember leaning over to my friend and saying, “I think he’s kind of cute. I like him.” I was smitten, even though you were this quiet guy that seemed to fade into the background of the loud theater kids we hung out with. I was sure that you thought I was annoying. I cried like a baby when my phone was ruined by the torrential downpour of rain. I thought I ruined my chance with you.
The next time I saw you was at a mutual friend’s birthday party. You showed up after we had already eaten, so when you were hungry I pretended I was too just so I could spend more time with you.
All the Facebook messages we sent back and forth in the beginning made me realize I was falling in love with you. You were funny, and you went along with my crazy stories. I cried in front of you twice before we started dating. I remember how in the note that you wrote to me for our six-month anniversary you said that was part of the reason you loved me.
You said you loved how much I cared.
But you were in a grade below me, so when I went off to college—even though it was in the same town as our high school—I felt the distance between us. We didn’t understand each other anymore. I felt the need to be free again. So, after being happily in love for a year and a half, I left you and went off to London for the summer.
If I’m being honest, I didn’t miss you at first. I was in London, soaking it all in. I kissed a few guys. I was happy. But summer, and London, didn’t last forever. When I came back I saw you. We were friends with the same people, so there was no way around it. I heard that you’d given what I always thought would be mine to another girl. I was devastated, but I told my friends that I didn’t care. Then, at a bonfire, when the alcohol overtook my senses I kissed you.
You kissed me. And we were back. Back right where we started: in love. But you had changed, and I had too.
I pushed you away again within the month. The hardest part of it was when you asked me to give you another chance in the future. I said yes; you had given me my time to be free, so it was the least I could do.
I met another guy. One that was older, knew what he wanted to do with his life. He was sweet to me. He reminded me a little of the you that you were when we first met. But my happiness with him didn’t last long. I thought of you too much, and I had changed too. I liked going out more. He lived an hour and a half away, and I got touchy when I drank. In the end, I ended that relationship because I still loved you.
I sent you a happy birthday message, hoping you missed me too. You did. One night was all it took for us to start over.
“We aren’t any good at being just friends,” you said.
In the beginning it was perfect. I was with you all the time, and I reconnected with friends I had kept my distance from.
You took my virginity, and I don’t regret that decision. We loved one another, and I felt the relationship was stronger because we knew that we belonged together. We knew that no matter how many times we lost one another, we found each other again. I thought you were it for me. I was going to marry you, and you said you were going to marry me. We’d pass the airport and talk about running off. You encouraged my schooling, and I pushed you to find your passion.
But you’d gotten used to a life that I couldn’t be a part of, and our futures were in two different worlds.
In the end we were fighting more than anything. We would be on the phone until three in the morning. You got frustrated; I got jealous and insecure. You lied to me, and I nagged you. We weren’t happy.
I remember my friends asking me why I was still with you. I remember telling them it was because I wasn’t ready to give up on us yet. I remember loving you so much that my heart broke every time someone would say something that exposed one of the lies you had told me. I remember thinking to myself that I had never felt so crazy before. I remember trying to stop caring so much. I cried myself to sleep over and over again. I reminded myself that I was part of the problem.
I wanted to change for you. But, in the end, we weren’t right for one another. We had gone too far, and it was time to let go.
You left me nine months and seventeen days ago, the week of my twentieth birthday.
I was devastated. Your mom messaged me afterwards to check on me. Your dad told me that he’d always be there for me if I needed anything. I felt broken. It took me a while to get over things. I may not be completely over them now.
You will always be my first love. You will always be the man I thought I was going to marry. There is no changing that, and I wouldn’t if I could.
You were my best friend, and I will always have a little part of me that misses you. Nevertheless, I’m happy again. I don’t miss being with you like I used to. My future goals are so close to being accomplished. I made friends I never would have made if we were together. I lost a lot of my fear when it comes to trying something new.
I feel whole again, for the first time in a long time.
Earlier this month my friends and I went out to a club. The next day one of my friends sent two pictures to me, one of us at the club while you and I were together and the most recent one of us at the club after our break up. The caption she put said, “You look so much happier now.”
I once told my therapist that if you called me at any time in the future in need of help I would do anything in my power to help you because the love we shared will never fully go away. I said that you were my closest friend for many years, and I will always be there for you. He didn’t like that answer. He said it was unhealthy because I would be putting myself in a position that will cause me pain. That helping people is one thing but sacrificing your mental and emotional help for someone is another, and he is right. But I stand by my answer (with a few adjustments):
If, in the future, you ever fall down and need help getting back up and I’m the only one that can help you, then call me. I will be there.
I’m not going to abandon you in a time of need. Not because you were my best friend. Not because we loved one another. Not because you were my first. But because you leaving me was the best thing you could have done for both me and you.
I will forever be grateful that you knew when to let go, while I was desperate to hold on. I know it was hard on you too, and I owe the life I lead now to your decision.