Everyone’s heard the story of the infamous ex who got away, but no one really talks about the ones we let get away. You know, that person you’ll always love, despite the fact that you were the one that pushed them away? Maybe we don’t talk about him because of the shame we feel for pushing, or maybe it’s because the wound is too fresh, but maybe that’s exactly why we should.
The first boy I ever truly loved had some flaws, but we all do. The funny thing is, the more time passes, the more I realize how little those flaws were in comparison to each of his incredibly unique qualities. More than that, I can bet my life that he loved me and, if I’m being honest, we probably both still love each other in one way or another.
I didn’t just let this boy go in a way that would qualify him as ‘the one that got away.’ Instead, I pushed him away, despite his every effort to stay. In fact, he told me numerous times to stop pushing him away because he was never going to go anywhere. He called me out on my fear of happiness, and I still sabotaged what we could have been.
I’ve had the fortunate ability to reflect upon my past and try to figure out what it means to me and, where he is concerned, I’ve spent much time thinking. He has become (and always will be) the one I let get away, and here’s what that means to me.
1. Identifying him as the one I let get away allows me to look inward and question why. Why did I push away someone who truly loved and cared for me? Did I do it out of fear? Was it because I didn’t think I deserved him or that he deserved better than me? Were there other influences that I couldn’t identify at the time? Whatever the reason, pinpointing why I took this course of action provides a chance for insight and deep self-reflection which, in turn, provides a chance for growth.
2. I respect the man he has become without me and wish him nothing but success. At first, I was very angry. I realize in retrospect this anger was a defense mechanism to help me through the shock of living without him. Now, I admire and respect him and his life for what it has become. I feel confident that he will change the world.
3. He was the one that was hurt, not me. Hindsight is incredible because it really lets you soak in all of the things you got wrong at the time. For example, when I was crying about how hurt I was, I should have realized how much hurt I was putting him through. All this boy did was love me, and because I was afraid of that, he ended up hurt. Of course, my heart aches about him and the mess I made, but I have no right to whine about that. He, on the other hand, has every right.
4. What ifs are stupid. Wondering day and night what would have happened or could have happened is useless seeing as we will never know. The fact of the matter is, this is where we are and that’s the life we’ve got. I can agonize over whether or not we would still be together all I want, but there’s no point. Put simply, we aren’t now, and that’s ok.
5. I have to learn to forgive myself. I have resolved not to apologize to him in person because I feel it would disrupt his life at this point. In my case, he has moved on and seems to be in a happy relationship. I’m in a new relationship as well, but I recognize that to contact him and apologize would be disrespectful both to him and the new woman in his life. This makes forgiving myself very difficult, but I love him, and I will not disrespect him further than I already have.
6. It’s ok to miss him. I don’t care who you are if you tell me you’ve never missed an ex while with someone else you are flat out lying. It’s not disrespectful and should be understood because everyone you date will have different qualities. Naturally, you may miss some of those old qualities while simultaneously loving the ones you find in your new significant other.
So, dear One I Let Get Away, I’m sorry I wasn’t ready for your love when you were part of my everyday life. I miss you, and I probably always will, and, along with that, I love you. I’m proud of your success and will be forever grateful to have been part of your story. Most importantly, please know that us not working had nothing to do with you. Do not blame yourself. Yes, we had problems, but I cut the rope instead of trying to tie it back together, and I have to find a way to live with that. I let you get away; you are free of any irrational obligation you may feel toward me. I only hope to see where the wind takes you because I know it will take you far.