Old friend, why are you so shy?

We all have that heartbreak that we thought would be the end of life as we know it, right?

It sounds dramatic but I can’t be the only one. It’s normally your first love though it doesn’t have to be. When things are good, it’s hard not to think that it’s going to be forever.

For me, it was the guy who made me realize that all the guys before him didn’t even come close.

He was fun, kind, easy-going, tall. And at one point, he adored me. Like, written-all-over-his-face adored me. And once I finally decided that I wanted to be with him, I was all in. And until the end, and probably then some, I was. But, obviously, something happened and he changed his mind. And I have never been so devastated.

I blocked him on everything: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram. I deleted every email (though I came across one recently that I missed). I erased every trace of him, drank and partied, and resisted every urge to check up on him, in hopes of forgetting.

Two months later, I called him. I still remember how my heart pounded as the phone rang. He didn’t answer. He called back and I asked if we could meet up and talk.

I’d spent two months going over and over everything in my head that went wrong, what I could have done to make it right, to make him stay, to make him want to come back to me. I went from crippling sadness to raging fury to numbness. And as I prepared myself to see him again, I played out every scenario in my head. I wanted him to see what he’d done to me, how he had screwed me up.

Still, he walked in and I smiled.

We sat there for a short while and he didn’t once convey that he regretted us breaking up. He told me when he left my house that day, he was relieved. I swallowed down tears and every word that I was afraid to say, just in case it might hurt him and I’d really lose him forever. Crazy that some part of me still had hope in that moment that I hadn’t completely lost him.

We walked away from each other for the last time and I spent a semester in California. 1,158 miles away from him. Yet I still felt his kiss, his hands, his skin. I still dreamt of him and felt him in everything I did. I couldn’t rid myself of him.

Until one day, it hurt a little less. I forgot what his voice sounded like. I forgot about the blemishes on his skin that I used to touch with my fingertips. I forgot the jokes we used to make and the curve of his lips.

And eventually, I was able to look into someone else’s eyes and not see his. To kiss someone new and not wish it was him. But above all that, I was able to look at myself and not see the girl he didn’t want.

Fast forward to three days ago, I saw him for the first time in four and a half years at a mutual friend’s wedding. Leading up to it, I had a feeling he might be there and again I went over every situation that might play out. And when I saw him walking, hand in hand with his wife, the recognition of his face made my pulse quicken. I didn’t smile. But I didn’t hurt either.

We didn’t speak that night. We didn’t even look each other in the eye. Now I realize that after all the tragic poetry, the characters written inspired by him, and all the nights talking to his ghost, I have nothing left to say to him.

Of course, at first sight of him, I freaked and immediately turned to our group text to share the news. Krystal reminded me that I am not who I was five years ago. Though I may not feel the need to walk up to him at a wedding and say hello, I do hope he isn’t the same person he was five years ago either.

I am human and I do hate how much he hurt me. Mostly because I let myself believe his leaving meant I wasn’t worth it to stay. Now I know that isn’t true. If there is anything I would say to him if we ran into each other again, it would be to thank him for leaving, because his leaving taught me how to love myself.

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