“Somewhere between a hello, and a good bye – there was love, once upon a time.” – anonymous
It was late at night, I was holding a cup of ice cream wondering where things have gone wrong. “Where did it start?” so I thought. I thought I had it all correct this time. I broke down my walls for something like “love”, even though I promised myself that all it ever gave me was a bunch of memories a backpack full of heartaches, getting heavier each day.
I remember the beginning, just how I remember the end. It was 2 years ago, I was living my life as a 25-year-old woman. I was striving in my career, I have a lot of friends who would rally through raging storm whenever I am in need, and I got a family who loves me regardless of how I turn out to be. I was gallivanting the world, with my heart on the sleeve. I have rejected proposals of love – time and time again, and I have vowed to stop looking for a relationship.
Well, until I met him.
On a sweaty, crowded bar in Makati – there he was, with his puppy innocent brown eyes. Initially, I rejected him, like all the other guys I had met- but time and time again, he showed me how sincere he was and how he was willing to make this work. I knew what I was jumping into, and so I told him what he was jumping into as well.
He was young, full of life and possibilities. When he sets his eyes on something, he always gets it done – and this is what I’ve always admired about him. So when he sets his eyes on me, I knew I was already in trouble. But it’s the kind of trouble I’d take on any day. I told him my worries, my fears, my anxieties, and my painful past – and each time I thought he would run away, but instead, he would always listen, assure me, hug me and accept me.
“Is it really okay?” I asked myself. “Will I really be okay if I finally break down my walls for this guy?”, and with less than a year, I finally accepted him. We traveled around the Philippines, and in Europe. I showed him my world, and he showed me his. We laugh over silly jokes and cried together over stupid things. When I was in pain over the loss of my cousin, he cried with me too. I supported him in his struggles at school, and he comforted me during the times I was feeling lost. We always had fun wherever we go, and even bathroom breaks didn’t seem like a bore. He knew me – and I knew him, and in that little moment of bliss – I thought it was enough. Him and Me against all odds– like some grand romantic story. But I guess, even great stories have its ending.
One day, as I prep myself to watch our favorite series online, he called me. He was crying. I knew from that moment on, that there is something horribly wrong. “What did I miss?“, I thought to myself. As he started talking, I knew right away what he was going to say. “I changed,” he said. “I need to find myself. I am not happy anymore.”
Those words felt like a knife stabbed repeatedly in my heart. I was so shocked at what he was blurting out that I didn’t know how to react. I wanted to laugh at my own insanity, and also cry because of the pain. I wanted to ask why, but based on my past learnings- I knew only one thing: You cannot force someone to be with you.
I wanted to tell him how I would wait, how I was willing to be quiet until he finds himself, as long as he doesn’t have to lose me. I wanted to make it work, and I wanted to assure him that he can still find himself, even if he is in a relationship with me. But then again, I knew our love is no longer the same – the moment he made the decision that he needed to lose me, in order to find himself, I knew that I had already lost him.
I didn’t fight back, and I didn’t chase. I have always been proud that way, but more than anything – I needed to grab hold of the last remaining self-respect I can get. It was never about him, or me, or our love – he just wanted to let me go. If he really loved me and cared for me, there are a million other ways to make it work. But he didn’t want to try anymore.
I knew that there is no use fighting a battle that is already lost. So, I just had to accept it.
I had to accept the truth that he is now a man free to be with anyone else but me. Accept the reality that he will live on about his days, holding someone else’s hands, and kissing someone else’s forehead. I had to accept the fact that I will no longer be anything but a piece of his memory. I had to accept that I will no longer be the one to hug him whenever he is feeling lost.
With all the remaining strength and dignity I had left – I took my pride, my self-respect, and walked away.
In those last moments of goodbye, I remembered the conversation we’ve had a few months back. I asked him “what would you do if I die or disappear?“, he said he would never allow it, and if it happened, he will never love again. I smiled, and replied, “you know, if you leave, I will never ever be in a relationship again. I will not marry anymore, because I only love you.”
How time passes by so fast. The same man who told me, he couldn’t live without me, is now the one who is killing me.
The world must have been laughing at me because this sounds like a sick joke, and I am the one reciting it.
Maybe God likes toying with my emotions. Maybe God doesn’t want to see me happy. Maybe God wanted to punish me – or, maybe God wanted me to see that I deserve something more.
Regardless, this is not something to worry about for now. Today, I will pack all my memories, and stack them safely in a box. I deleted everything that would remind me of him, and I removed photos that are easy to see, so I never have to see him. The only thing I will never do is block him. Because unlike my other exes, he deserves that much respect.
I also understand what he feels because I was the exact same when I was his age. I knew what it was to not know your reason, your place, or your purpose in this world. I knew what it felt to be following a road that you aren’t sure of taking. I knew it all, but the difference is – I had nothing or no one to lose. I didn’t have someone else when I realized what I’ve been missing.
Despite whatever it is that is hurting me, I genuinely want him to be happy – even if it doesn’t include me.
I genuinely want to see that same spark, and the same smile I saw when I first met him. I genuinely wish that the path he takes will be the path that will grant him all the things he wishes.
But no, I will not wait. As he decides to take his own path, I will take mine.
So the saying is quite true, “If you love someone, you have to set them free.” so that’s what I am doing. I am setting you free. My beautiful little bird has got to fly and test how strong are his wings. As much as I want him, I also wanted him to see what else the world has to offer, and what it looks like outside our little nest, we used to call – love.
As you go, I hope you can one day look back, and see how comfortable I made this nest for you – only this time, I will not be there. All I can offer you are the memories that will keep this nest warm in case you lost your way, and needed to come back. You always said that I was your home, and I will always be. When you are lost once again, you’ll know where to find me.
But this time, it’ll take more effort to find the home you have broken into pieces.
This is the last time I will shed my tears for you. Like you, I will also find my own happiness.
Perhaps we will meet again, and realize just how stupid we were to let go of something that only happens once in our life, or perhaps we’ll meet each other again – in someone else’s arms.
I need time to repair the damage you have caused so that I can offer someone else a life I wish I had given you. I hope one day I can meet a guy who will choose to love me every day and kiss all the pain I have buried in my chest. Because you know, I deserve nothing less.
Now after this post, know that I am always going to be thankful for showing me how capable I am to love again. Thank you, for teaching me to be selfless and forgiving.
Thank you for all the memories – one last time, before I lock them all away.
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