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Most of us have been there.

Dumped. Kicked to the curb. Heart torn in half.  Or “let go.” What does that even mean?

When my long-term, on-and-off again boyfriend, *Joshua, ended the hangnail that was our relationship, he said “I’m not breaking up with you. I’m letting you go.”

“Where, Josh. Where?”

On grad night. 1993. Great timing, Joshua. Not our grad, but that’s a minor detail when hours before there are photos of a happy Tessa and Joshua posing for my mom’s 35mm.

The statement almost sounds temporary. Do we want them back? Are we letting them down easy? Because the message is really, “Yes, Tessa. After years of bouncing back and forth, I’d like to expand my horizons. No hard feelings?” and “It’s over. Oh, can I have my Vuarnet t-shirt back?”

The entire “If you love someone, let them go, and if they come back to you, it was meant to be” is confusing.

If you still love someone, why give up? My advice? Don’t let them go unless there’s nothing left. Hold on tight. Too many people are in unhappy, complicated relationships. Unless there are still feelings, maybe you can work them out.

If you can’t, then let go. Think about your life five, ten, fifteen years down the line. Is this the person you want to be with? Because you invested so much time into the relationship? Are you addicted to the drama? Or you believe they’ll change?

When people celebrate milestone anniversaries, I wonder if they’re cheerful, joyous years. Or do people stay with each other for the wrong reasons. For the children, companionship, religion, security, no other offers, etc.
no one

If it’s really over, end it. Unfortunately – or fortunately – I was too busy to realize the relationship with Joshua needed CPR. Too consumed with extracurricular activities. Don’t worry. This isn’t his pass.

However, in the end, there wasn’t much to save. How and when Joshua broke up with me – well, I’m sure he wishes he handed it different. But we all have regrets.

And I’m not bitter. Okay, at first I wanted to die and thought the world was coming to an end. And I cried myself to sleep and dreaded going to school for my final exams because I’d see him.

But that’s the past.

After a few years, Joshua and I met at a social. We were sitting at a table chatting, and a mutual friend blurted out, “You’re both great people, but you can’t get along.”

It was true. Because we had an excellent friendship, but we sucked as a couple. We’d meet at parties, socials, the bar. It was awesome to have him back in my life. I truly believe exes can be friends. And I thought we were the perfect example.

Until I left for twenty-one years for school and work. And eventually returned to my hometown. Where Joshua lives.

I’ve yet to see him.

Like I said, the quote is confusing. Because I came back.

But I came back for me.