There is an underestimated art to something one wouldn’t consider a skill. It determines the ultimate strength of leaving someone you couldn’t want more while knowing what you had didn’t actually exist. You’re wondering now, how do you do this? How do you manage to forget about something that had all the potential to be wonderful?
It’s difficult at first. You struggle to forget the way he touched you, his hands tugging gently at your pants. Or the advice he offered while you cried over incompetent boys not realising that the more you pushed to love him, the more he would become that boy. You miss his voice when it was kinder, you miss his embrace when it was softer before it disappeared.
Now, you lie in bed wishing you were with him, lying on his chest. You remember when you used to do this while listening to his thoughts and fears. At the time, you saw him as someone who needed to be loved and you couldn’t see him in any other way.
But he could. He pushed you away. He uttered cruel words that scarred you. He told you he felt indifferent, he threw insults around like it was second nature, he called you “Bro” and he treated you unfairly because he refused to fall in love. Yet, you still couldn’t back away because that seemingly fragile image of him was all you could think about. No matter how unhealthy he was for you and how entertaining it was for him to hurt you, you still couldn’t forget him.
Your best friend warned you, your mind warned you but your heart lay stubborn until you read a text message that finally broke it. You stared at the words fucking and annoying and you knew you couldn’t continue like this. It was here when this imaginative image of the male that you believed him to be was shattered. He isn’t who you thought he was and you can’t change that. You can’t force him to love you. You can only accept that he will eventually live the regret of pushing away someone who only wanted to love him.
Now you wait a week, you swallow your tongue and hold your breath because each day you get a little stronger. You go days without messaging him, and you get braver. You come to acknowledge the lessons you’ve learned of unrequited desire. You understand now not to give your heart away so easily, to remain calm when a new boy holds you, and whispers the same poetry he had in your ear. You’ve come to realise that in order for people to leave your life you need to let them. The more often you allow this, the easier losing becomes.
And perhaps you find yourself one night standing in the middle of a deserted street, and watch him walk away. Prior to his leaving, he had apologised and for a brief moment he became the boy you desperately wanted. He became kind again as he exposed that half-smile you adore so much.
But now, you watch the back of his ginger hair walk further away from you like some sad metaphor of never truly having him. Fighting back tears, you let him leave because even though he had momentarily become the imaginary boy you fell in love with, that isn’t who he actually is. You know now that he’ll never be him so why bother wishing he were?
So here we are, this is when you master the art. It happens once you’ve lost the boy you never had and realising that it’s actually bearable. After all, who is more worthy of losing than someone who never understood what he had until he lost you – the girl so worthy of keeping.