He always has that smitten look on his face whenever he’s photographed with her, that one girl he calls ex-girlfriend. With me, it was more of a socially friendly smile even though we were dating at the time. He dated me and claimed he liked me, but he was never in love with me like I hoped he would eventually be. It was my choice and I got what I asked for. I had him, his time, his body. I became the girl who was in love with a guy who didn’t see me the same way, the girl who was too smart to lie to herself but did it anyway, and the girl who never quite knows how to let go.
Evidently, three months after the break up, I found myself crying at the glimpse of that smitten look on his face, once again, because of that same girl. I was startled by my own reaction because I was so sure I had gotten over him. Why would I not? We didn’t have a long history and weren’t exactly compatible. Plus, by the end of it, we had a calm, mature closure talk, followed up with texts, phone calls and a period of agreed no contact, which has been as healing as it could get. Most importantly, I wrote about him. I don’t usually have unresolved feelings after being completely honest to myself about the experience. But this time, strangely, I still felt hurt.
I guess you could say it’s a perfectly normal feeling upon seeing your ex with another girl, knowing she has what you never had. To be fair, the hurt didn’t last long and I remain to have no desire to involve him in my future. Nevertheless, it alarms me. Feelings are the window into one’s inner self and this might mean there is a hidden wound somewhere in me that could be easily torn open at the first sight of him, and that my being over him is simply a game of make-believe. Like, distance is the only thing that could ever stop me from thinking about him. Though it’s not because it stops my feeling for him, but simply because my mental processes temporarily inhibit what’s out of sight.
And so it makes me wonder if feelings could ever completely go away, whether sentiment would one day magically vanish. Or perhaps it has unknowingly nested somewhere. Frankly, I don’t know. I might move on but I don’t know if I have ever fully let go of the people who have once made me feel alive, showing me how to be human. If anything, I might stop missing the person and the desire to tie my path to theirs, but I doubt that I would ever forget how much I appreciated the time I spent with them, the way they looked at me, cared for me, handing me a piece of them to hold on to, or the part of me that loved them, treasured them, changed because of them.
The truth is, I can’t say for sure how I would feel if I met him now. If he stood there right in front of me, breathing, talking, gazing into my eyes like the first time he took my breath away. And it’s not even just him. There are other people who have gained a special place in my heart, whom I always have a soft spot for no matter how hard I tried not to. However, this doesn’t mean that I would run to them in a split second if they asked me so. Feelings might be powerful, unanticipated, but acting on it and nurturing it is a conscious choice. And that’s the choice I wouldn’t make on the sole basis of momentary feelings.
Perhaps, one day, I will come to feel neutral about him or any of those people, being genuinely happy for their happiness and keep in touch with them on good terms. Or maybe, I can never be sure about my feelings and my chest will again tighten at the sight of them with someone not me. But I guess it’s okay. It’s okay to never quite know how to let go, to carry with me the sentiments for the people who once crossed my path, to think of them now and then without having all the answers to why I feel what I feel. It’s okay as long as I don’t let it hold me back from enjoying my life and from the people who choose me and choose to make me happy.
After all, they had a part of me, for which they will always be here with me. And I will be with them too. It’s a beautiful thing. It’s a gift for ever having found each other in this world of billions.