Monday 6 August 2018

A Letter to the Girl Who Doesn't Hate Her Ex-Boyfriend

The girl who still loves him, even though it is a different kind of love.

I started writing this letter to an unknown girl. I imagined her as a twenty-something creative, a girl who had got over the all-consuming part of heartbreak, and was milling around in the part where it doesn't hurt so much, but it's not quite gone yet. And then, as every writer does I'm sure, I realised I was writing to myself. Part of me wants to hate the man who made me fall in love with him. He's the man who pursued me, who won me over and made me vulnerable and strong at the same time. He's the man who made me happier than I could have ever imagined, who had me dreaming of a future life I had never pictured before. And he is the man who ended it. The one who took it all away. This letter is to myself, but also to the other girls who don't hate their ex-boyfriends.
It's important to state the difference between loving someone and being in love with them. When we were together I was in love with him. Very in love. And I still was for a while after he broke up with me. The thing is, he had time to get over the relationship before it was over, whereas I was thrown into single life in an instant. And even though it did take a long time to accept it, I taught myself to love him without being in love with him, the man who once told me that he didn't want to be in a relationship anymore. I taught myself to look at him as a person, not as my boyfriend. My ex-boyfriend. I don't not hate him because I'm in love with him, the reason I don't hate him is because he's a good person and because, I like to think, so am I. He hurt me, but I am working to forgive him for that.

There are still times when I have to remind myself that I can't rely on him anymore. It could be something as trivial as realising that I've only been to the cinema once over the summer because that was Our Thing that we did together. Mammia Mia: Here We Go Again is a pretty good single film to see, but if we were still together we would have had at least one cinema day trip (that's two films including a trip to McDonalds) by now. Or it could be something more serious. Like picking up the phone to call him when something bad has happened, only to realise that he can't always be the shoulder to cry on, and putting the phone away.

While at first I felt pride when people would tell me that I am so mature for still being friends with him, a better person than they are, now I wonder if I am fooling myself. Because when he told me that he has met someone new, and it scares him how much he likes her, I cried. I remember when he said that about me, before he changed his mind. I couldn't help but think about the beginning of our relationship and how incredibly happy I was, and feel down that he is now enjoying that with someone else. I realised that when he said, "I don't want to be in a relationship," he really meant, "I don't want to be in a relationship with you."

The thing is that I didn't cry because he was with someone else. I knew it was going to happen one day. I've talked to other people myself, even. I cried because he told me how much he likes her, and I wasn't ready to think about that yet. 

It's not easy. It's one of the toughest things I have ever done, keeping him in my life.
There are still so many unsaid things. Things that I let go of when we were together because a relationship is about compromise and in the big picture of my life, they didn't matter. But even now, I feel sad when I remember how he tarnished my 21st birthday, and I feel utter shame when I remember what he told me about my body in an argument one time, and I feel total hopelessness when I remember that he said he would never hurt me and that's exactly what he did. I tell myself these things because the pain is easier to handle when I can displace it into him. I don't tell him these things, because in reality I know that I let them go in the past because I wanted to let them go. It was a wonderful relationship. The perfect first love. It was just always meant to end because while I was happy to push through, he wanted to run from the struggle.

Even that sentence gives me chills. I can't hate him for not wanting to be in a relationship. I know this.
He's a good person. And the thing is, even though space between us is necessary, and he's moved to another city, I know that I couldn't say goodbye to him forever. For every negative feeling that I experience when I see him living his life outside the boundaries of mine, I know that this is the life he chose. It may not be the one I pictured for the two of us, but hopefully one day we will both be able to share our happy lives together. Not romantically, but as good friends. Friends who know each other so well, and can see that they are both content.

I don't hate him. I want him to be happy.

This letter, although it is for the unknown girl, and for myself, will inevitably find him. And I hope that when he sees it, he understands that this comes from a place of wanting to be strong. It comes from a place of accepting that things are forever changed and that even though it is hard, it is worth it. This letter is to say that it is ok to not hate your ex-boyfriend. It is ok to love him, because you know the difference now, and your heart can open for someone else. You will fall in love again.

So here's to you, the one who is caught in a limbo. Knowing that you can't be with him, not even wanting to be with him, but loving him all the same.
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