heartbreak, one year later.

“You fall in love slowly and then all at once.” I guess that’s how you fall out of love too.

I was dropping my sister off at her friend's house, and she lives in the same neighborhood as you. As I drove through the familiar roads, I dreaded having to see your house. But I rounded the corner and there it was. The familiar college flag out front. The empty driveway and basketball hoop. Yet I felt….nothing. My heart didn’t get all warm like it always does at the mention of your name or the sound of your favorite song. Nothing. My heart didn’t burn. My head didn’t spin. Nothing.

I spent months and months crying myself to sleep, obsessing over what I did wrong and writing down what I wish I could say to you. But all it took was a drive past your house and this feeling of nothingness to confirm the impossible. I’m not in love with you anymore.

6 months ago, I wrote that I was still trying to find the pieces of myself I lost when I lost you. A year after our breakup, I can finally say that I found those pieces. I still think about you everyday but not obsessively like I used to. It’s just a thought that comes and passes quickly. I don’t miss you anymore. If anything, I miss the feeling of being in love. But who doesn’t?

One of my favorite things you ever told me when we were together was that one of your friends asked you, “So I hear you’ve got a new girlfriend. And you’re doing long distance...again. Why do you hate yourself?” You told me you just laughed and responded, “Man, if you only knew this girl. You wouldn’t want to let her go either.” I felt the same way for such a long time after our breakup. When people around me kept telling me how bad of a person you were for doing what you did to me, I just kept telling them, “If you knew this boy like I did, you’d understand why I can’t let him go.” But you let me go, and it took me a year to fully let you go. 

Hope can be incredibly destructive when your heart is broken, and I was hopeful for so long that you’d come back to me, and I would’ve jumped at the chance to be with you again. But my heart isn’t broken anymore, and I know now that I will never trust you with my heart again. I loved you the same way you still loved her. You don’t deserve a second chance. 

Having to learn how to trust my heart again has been one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do. It wasn’t like I let myself love you. Before I could think about it, I was already in love, and it was already too late. I always believed in soulmates and the whole “When you know, you know” thing. And when I was with you, I knew. Or at least I thought I knew. I trusted my heart, and what my heart was telling me was wrong. So how am I supposed to trust it again?

I think it’s a choice you have to make. Matters of the heart don’t particularly make sense. You just have to take a leap of faith and choose to trust it again - a risk that took me a year to take.

There are still times when something reminds me of you and I smile. Like every time you would go to my garage to get a water bottle, you’d ask if my sisters and I wanted one too. I’m not sure why this one makes me smile so much, but it does. The second season of shows we watched together keep coming out, and I’m reminded of the countless times we sat in my basement fake fighting over who fell asleep first. Our breakup didn’t completely ruin all of our good memories, and I’m thankful for that.

I have a permanent scar under my right eye because of the amount of times I’ve wiped my tears and rubbed my eyes this year. I didn’t even know that was possible. No one had ever made me as happy as you did. But no one had ever hurt me as much as you did either.

I saw you at a party on the 4th of July and noticed you were wearing your Birkenstocks. I bet you don’t even remember I gave them to you for your birthday. You’re always going to live in that small part of my heart that’s reserved for first loves. I know that part of your heart is reserved for someone else, but that doesn’t destroy me like it used to. 

I’m crying as I write this, not because I’m still depressed, but because I remember how broken I was. And how confused I was. And how much I fully believed I would never be okay again. I can’t thank God enough times for how much I’ve grown. Breathing doesn’t hurt. I haven’t had a panic attack in months. The mention of your name doesn’t make my jaw tighten or my body shake.

I’m a different person than I was a year ago. I’m okay. And that’s a big statement to make.

I’ll always have love for you, kid, and I wish you nothing but the best. But I know that my heart deserves better. You are my first love, but you’re not going to be my last.

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Sparks of Phoenix: “Your heart broke in pieces. It will heal in pieces too” (88).