The end. Sometimes things end—whether of your own accord or entirely against your will. But how do you navigate the end?
How do you let go? How do you let go of that person you’ve loved for the longest time, but was never really yours? That person with whom you share so much history with, whom you grew up with, who held the door open to a wealth of experiences and people, who brought so many fun and good memories into your life and who made you want to live more. How do you let go of that person who came into your life and changed who you were so much and for the better, when you’ve always wanted it to be him? How?
How do you close doors? How do you close the doors to a truly good person with the purest intentions, when you don’t feel the same? That person who offered you the realest of friendships, whom you shared plenty of late night conversations with, whom you could talk to about anything, who showed you utter devotion, commitment and unwavering effort, with whom your heart is at ease with, whom you deeply care about, who always took care of you and had your back, who always made you feel safe and secure and who treated you so well he set the standard for all to come? How do you close your doors to that person who loved you so much and knew you so well, when you’re not sure you might ever find someone like him? How?
Finally, how do you turn the page? How do you turn the page on a person who made you so happy, but also broke your heart? That person who made you laugh so hard, who made you forget your worries because he was so carefree, who was so different he was everything you didn’t know you wanted to be, who made your heart skip a beat, who made your mornings brighter, who made life more interesting, who was your polar opposite he opened up a world of different views and experiences for you and who was so raw, real and honest you couldn’t help but be yourself with him. How do you turn the page on a person who, because he was so different from everything you knew, made you grow so much, taught you so much about things and yourself and made you want to be a better you—when all you want to do is linger?
When the deluge of emotions threatens to drown you, how do you swim to the surface and breathe? Because for how much these people mean to you, I guarantee, you will be hit by the entire gamut of emotions— sometimes in sequence, sometimes all at once and with an intensity you never knew possible.
Anger. Hurt. You will feel the weight of broken promises. You will be pained over lost friendships or relationships, of missing something you’ve gotten used to always being there. You will feel betrayed and disappointed in more ways than I can tell you. Many things will seem like lies—and they will make you blindingly angry. Was nothing real and true? What was said, what was done—all these now seem tainted with insincerity. But just because those words, promises and actions don’t reflect their truth now, it doesn’t mean they weren’t meant when they were said and done once upon a time. Sometimes, things change and it is for the better that we break promises we no longer mean and walk away—to welcome better things into our lives.
Confusion. You’ll have so many questions in your head—and there will be more questions than answers. You’ll wonder where it all went wrong. You’ll question why it had to end. You’ll pore over every single detail—every word, every action, every message, every memory— trying to find answers or even just clues. You’ll think about whether the person has already moved on without you, whether he was sincere, whether you can still fix things, and 50 million other questions about your past, present and future with that person. But you’ll never find real answers anyway— not from them nor from you— because the truth is, no “answer” will ever suffice. No answer will fill the burning holes in your mind and heart; Only faith can fill those in, faith that things turned out the way they were supposed to.
Regret. Guilt. Frustration. When all answers seem to escape you, you will blame yourself, more than you will him. You will regret all the things you should have said and done. All the “what ifs” will eat away at you. You’ll regret not doing enough, not saying enough, not being enough. You’ll ask yourself: “If I tried harder and done better, could I have saved it?”. Surely there were shortcomings from both sides, but before you descend into a bottomless pit of blame, please take in every word of this: we are enough. They are enough. You are enough. For the right person, someday, you will be enough.
Sadness. Loneliness. As with all endings, there is that inevitable wave of sadness. You cared deeply and maybe even loved him—how can you not feel loss so palpably? You will miss him. Your thoughts will drift to him and you’ll wonder how he’s doing or what he’s doing. You will miss all the big things and small things that made up your relationship. You will feel broken and incomplete. It may seem like the world is ending and all is bleak, but it is not your ending. Sometimes, things end—always, for the better. We might not realize it yet, but it is always, always, for the better.
How do you leave it all behind? How do you stop yourself from holding on to any and all hope for you and this person? How do you not look back at a person who meant so much and at so much shared history? How do you walk away from all that?
Walk away with gratitude. Fill every fiber of your being with grateful rays—for all the happy memories, for all the lessons, for all the ways his presence transformed you. Don’t regret him or what you felt for him, and don’t regret your time together. Deep down inside, you know it was all worth it. That person taught you and gave you exactly what you needed at that stage in life. Even if he is no longer part of your story, be thankful he came and changed you. You will never be the same person again.
Walk away with wisdom and growth. Acknowledge your mistakes and all other things you can improve on. Look back on all the ways your efforts fell short and all the times you could have done better. But don’t beat yourself up over it—for who you were, what you knew and how you acted were a product of your cumulative experiences at that point in time. Rather, with these new experiences now under your repertoire and facing with raw honesty all your shortcomings, work to become a better person. Take stock of all the lessons learned during your time together. Know that this wealth and breadth of realizations would not have been possible any other way—as there are lessons which only another human being can impart to you.
Walk away with understanding and humility. Maybe things didn’t work out because it was his fault. Maybe it was your fault. But more often than not, it’s on both of you. Everyone’s just really learning and finding their way— and when things don’t turn out the way either parties hoped, it is only because who you both were as people at that moment in time really didn’t match. The differences in needs, priorities and values will cause you to never see eye-to-eye. Accept that you have shortcomings to work on but also recognize that the world is filled with different kinds of people and those differences, yours or his, are what come together to make people special and are not something to be used against them nor forced to fit into a mold.
Walk away with self-respect and acceptance. Accept that for now your paths are diverging and don’t beg for another chance. You might want them back, but remember, when one party decides to stop working for the relationship, then the kind of “affection” you’ll win from desperately holding on won’t be the kind of love you want anyway. If you feel unsure about the person or they make you feel uncertain about where you stand, then they’re not the one. They deserve better than the kind of half-love that needlessly holding on brings and you definitely deserve better, too. Each of you deserves someone else who truly suits, complements and brings out the best in both of you—not the worst in either party.
Walk away with clarity and love. Sometimes your pain cuts so deep that’s all you see. Before you entertain all sorts of negative emotions and thoughts, remember this: sometimes you hurt people and sometimes they hurt you but most of the time, the pain dished out is unintentional. In life, you will stand on both sides of the spectrum— giving someone your truth and well-meaning words, hoping for these to be accepted despite the hurt they might cause and being on the receiving end of words that bring pain. If you wish for others to not question your reasons or sincerity, then how can you question theirs when the same painful words are said back to you? No one wants to hurt the person they once cared about but the plain and simple truth is that things came to an end because you are not meant for each other. It is not because either of you were bad people, that either of you were any less of a person nor because either of you weren’t good enough. Someone else is out there for both of you, someone better suited to you—that person who will be right for you and whom you will also be right for.
Walk away with finality. Before you walk away for good and never look back, let them know how much they meant to you, one last time, and how thankful you are that your paths crossed. Tell them all the things that need to be said— so that they won’t be your baggage and haunting regret nor you, theirs. Don’t allow useless questions to linger on your mind nor pain or bitterness to reside in your heart; instead, fill yourself with gratitude to the core so that you can say goodbye, genuinely wishing them well wherever the new road leads them. And then, you just know: this really is where your paths no longer overlap. Accepting the end doesn’t discredit your time together, your happiness, how you felt or what you shared. From time to time, you might even miss them or wonder about them. They were special—they always will be— and a part of you will always care about or love them, but not in the same way. Allow this chapter to now come to a close, for only then can you turn the page to a blank, new one and embrace new people and new experiences with open arms.
And then, move forward with hope. You might have hurt, cried your eyes out and felt broken, but remember you were once happy without that person in your life. Don’t worry, you’ll be okay—if you aren’t already. You stride onwards, fully trusting that something better awaits in the great unknown, as scary and unnerving as it may be. Baby steps first: put yourself out there, experience and learn more. At first, you might be peppered with doubts whether anyone will be worth the effort, the time, the hurt and potential heartbreak. But the truth is we’ll never know until we try. Aren’t they all worth it though for all of the lessons and changes in you each one brings? Nothing in this world is ever certain and not all things are meant to last forever; Even if they don’t, it doesn’t diminish their purpose or significance in our lives. So open your heart, again and again, until you finally meet your last, your person who will bring you forever— that person who matches you so well that both of you can’t help but grow together and individually, in the light and glow of each other’s presence. And through it all, believe with blind faith that what’s meant to be will be.
The end. The beginning. Don’t they both come together so seamlessly now? After all, the end of one chapter opens the door to the beginning of a new one. So yes, it is the end, the end of your time with that person. But it also the beginning— the beginning of your adventure with other people who bring with them new lessons, new memories and the beautiful unknown.