Dear “THE Ex”,
The last time we spoke to each other was a two-minute telephone conversation five years ago. You told me with a catch in your voice: "We have to break up. I am sorry. I love you." I don't remember what I said in response. Do you remember? Or is that entire memory gone for good - buried with the passage of time and replaced with memories of other loves and disappointments?
I did not know that phone call would be our last conversation and the death knell of a long, happy, loving relationship that spanned my entire adolescence. It is funny how two people’s' lives revolve entirely around each other, and then, suddenly some years down the line, you no longer know which city they live in. Wherever you are, have you been well?
Since you, I have had other exes. But only you crop up in conversations as “THE Ex”. You earned that title not because you were my first love but because you were the first person to break my heart.
Heartbreak was something I had only heard about in song lyrics. I did not know the words were actually inspired by reality. The months after the breakup, I had to drag my feet - because I could not walk freely with a constant weight pressing down on my chest. I felt like my heart had been haphazardly sliced into pieces. My tear ducts were faulty sprinklers - I was someone who would make fun of sentimentality and tears, and man, that year taught me how tears cannot be tamed by self-control.
I learnt to respect cliches. "Lying in a foetal position" are just words in a corny melodramatic book, until you find yourself in that posture, squeezing a pillow for strength.
My behaviour during that time is not something I am proud of and I have tried to erase it from my memories. But that time also marked a huge change in my life. Sometimes, I joke about how my life is divided into the pre-THE-Ex phase and post-THE-Ex phase.
The pre-you me was a confident optimist who had always had things go her way. She was, no offence to yours truly, an idiot. Our breakup was the first time I had to deal with a disappointment and it was made worse by the fact that I was not expecting it.
What went wrong is a discussion that's pointless to get into now. We loved. We were young. We were over. More often than not, things are more simple than we expect.
I missed you horribly. I missed the way you made me laugh. No one since has made me laugh like you did. I worry if it's because of you I no longer have it in me to laugh with abandon.
I loved you with my whole heart and being and without an iota of fear. But with the other men who came into my life after you, a part of me was always wary and prepared for disappointment.
With every new person I love, I give a little less of myself. Soon, I worry, I might not have anything left of my heart to give.
Does the you I knew exist today? The me you knew is extinct, with no chances of revival. More than I missed you, I miss the person I was - young, carefree, full of very good possibilities.
You would not recognize me now. - and I am not saying that because I am older or because I have swapped my torn T-shirts for chic dresses and stylish tunics. It's because I have evolved as a person.
I still think of the old me with lots of affection and nostalgia, but the new me? I respect the hell out of her. I suspect even you might be really impressed.
I have managed to achieve a certain degree of success and have many new accomplishments to my name. Did you know I had it in me to jump off a plane and skydive, or that I would turn out to be really good at coding? I am still an average cook, but my cakes are quite sought-after by friends and colleagues. And in the last five years, I have gone on three solo trips to different continents and come back with a new awareness of the world.
I have always considered myself a strong person, but life in the last few years has taught me just how strong I am. I have people who look up to me and there are people I, in turn, respect and adore. I might not know where I fit in the grand scheme of things, but I know my worth.
My life does not revolve around just another person. It now revolves around me, my family, my friends, my career…it's a rich life. I will be the first to admit that if we had remained together, we would made it work and been happy. But it's highly unlikely I would have discovered so many new things about myself. And that would have been a shame.
I hope you don't feel guilty about us. I can honestly say I am better off single in my current avatar than happy and committed in my younger persona.
You have been popping up less frequently in my thoughts these days - don't make fun of me, but I remember you and us when I hear Adele's songs. She must have made millions out of other people's broken hearts, including mine - respect, sister.
This might be too late to have any significance, but I would like to finally say bye. My goodbye is not just for the you I loved but also to the person I was. And I thank you for loving that unpolished, raw, naive me. Thank you for saying you loved me even when you broke up with me. Thank you for pushing me on to that journey towards becoming the person I am today. Thank you for breaking up with me so I could make myself.
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Published on Mar 28, 2016