I know. My friends keep throwing me disdainful looks when I talk about how the used-to’s are still-do’s. Sometimes I feel like people are rolling their eyes behind my back. I do not expect anyone to understand.
After we ended, I had no one to run to. So the best thing I could do was gather myself and learn to run from the pain. I try to ignore the snarky comments and the tone of the voices that ask me why, what more do you need, when will you realize… Because believe me, for the past 27 months, I’ve been bothered by my inability to answer those.
But of course I tried hard to move on. This part, most people don’t get. They think I like being depressed. I tried to stay away from home – a small city where everyone you know knows everyone else – sought a new career, enjoyed the freedom, rediscovered myself… I did anything to try to forget. And over time, I have learned to accept that our relationship had to end when it did to allow the both of us to grow, separately.
We remained good friends. We could make jokes about the past without the awkward silence after, we could sit down and talk and spare each other the drama… I guess you could say that whatever happened between us was behind us now, although sometimes I think that’s not really a good thing.
We would talk sometimes, about how he was always too tired at work, how I was doing, how we both worried about our future. He would tell me about the girls he was seeing (he had no trouble getting dates), and I, well, I wouldn’t tell him how it stings. Instead, his name would come up on daily conversations with my new friends, because he would cross my mind all the time, as if everything I see and hear would remind me of the one that got away.
But I was actually okay. I enjoyed being alone. I had been having fun outside the comforts of home. There was something about the unfamiliarity of places that made me feel like I am being cleansed of the past. I was healing. But sometimes at night, when my own mind haunted me at my most vulnerable, the healing process would pause, and I would relapse into deep, dark thoughts.
But I have moved on. I know this. When I came back home, it didn’t feel uneasy as it did before. I was okay with being stuck in a web I wanted to be free of so badly before. I let out the natural flirt inside me I didn’t even know existed. I liked it. I learned new things, went to places, set my priorities. I was growing up.
I did not flinch at the sound of his name. The past would come visit me like an old pal but I did not let it consume me anymore. To see him okay, smiling, after everything, justifies our separation. It is enough to make me forgive myself for causing the break-up that shouldn’t have happened.
But then one night he came to me and told me he was going away. He was giving up her job. He wanted a fresh start. But he didn’t really have a plan. All that to heal his broken heart.
And I, well, I couldn’t tell him how it stung.
I was angry and worried and sad at the same time. I wanted to embrace him, and at the same time wake him up and tell him to stop being stupid. But then I remembered I was in his shoes not too long ago. Broken. Unsure. Desperate. Instead, my energy was diverted to “that girl”. That girl after me. The girl I lost to.
At that moment I wanted to strangle her, slap her repetitively until my hand hurt, and pull all her teeth out (of course I’m exaggerating, I think). She broke the heart that broke mine, and maybe I should give her a high five, but if that’s going to happen, that high five would land on her face. I cradled that heart for three whole years. And I tried to take care of it until I was no longer given the privilege.
How could you? You are wasting the chance I am now denied of. How could you throw away the chance to hold his hand whenever you like it? When I always felt it was the hand I want to hold when I get old. How could you throw the chance to fall asleep next to him? When I always felt he was my dream catcher, keeping nightmares away. To wake up next to him is even more beautiful than both sunrise and sunset.
I do not understand how you could treat him like just another fish in the sea. I do not understand how you could just let him go; he may have his faults, but you know what, he had me at my best and seen me at my worst, but he still loved me just the same. And you just don’t give up on someone like that. I haven’t, so how could you? I just do not understand how I am worth leaving for someone who is leaving him.
But I understand why. I understand why people always want what they don’t have. We always look far ahead, without realizing (or maybe deliberately ignoring) what is right in front of us. The elusive is so much more attractive. I understand why people have to leave. Disagreement, discomfort, discontentment. Change.
But think about a favorite childhood toy you’ve been keeping around. You don’t play with it anymore. Most times you won’t even remember it’s still there. But oh, the nostalgia every time you see it. How would you feel if one day, the new house help throws it away?
Because that is exactly how it feels when you’re still getting over someone who is now getting over someone else.
Suddenly, it’s not about your struggles of undergoing, again and again, the several phases of moving on. Your own pain would seem insignificant. Forgotten. He would no longer have the power to hurt you, but when he cries, you feel twice his pain. He who still means the world to you, he who now means nothing to someone else.
I could tell him how it stings (and how she stinks) but it won’t matter. When you’re hurting, the world you know becomes a long, dark tunnel you have to go through alone. There may be helping hands but they won’t matter. Because he’d be standing where “the light” is. The cause and cure. And he’ll be the only thing that you see. So tell me, how could I reach the end when my endpoint has a tunnel of his own?
Now I know that we will all find happiness in other things eventually. Because such is life.
But with someone like him, it takes a while.