Building valuable, healthy relationships are central to living a positive and productive life. Bumble has helped change the way we interact, breaking down old-fashioned power dynamics and encouraging women to make the first move. Over the next month, we’re celebrating love. We’ve partnered with Bumble to highlight interesting ways to start a conversation, how to find love in the digital age, how to cultivate intimacy as we emerge from isolation and more. Alongside our helpful and inspiring content, we’ll also share stories of ‘the one that got away’ — because sometimes it’s the love before that leads you to The One.
It’s been a while, hasn’t it? We haven’t crossed paths in some time though I’m sure it’s no surprise to find me writing — reaching back into the past has always been a gift (or curse) I’ve aggressively nurtured. I could wrangle up nostalgia for a morning commute if I tried hard enough.
I think about you often.
How have you been? It’s strange to talk formally to someone that was once so familiar. I used to live inside you, in your heart and your mind. You were the voice in my head when I lay awake during the deepest blue parts of the night. Disentangling has taken us so much time. Are you OK where you are?
You were witness to a very turbulent stage of my life. I felt like the world was unravelling (amusing in hindsight how all-consuming it was), though you did nothing to abate the chaos. You agreed with every anxiety I could conjure, perpetuating an infinite and unbearable panic that seemed to settle in my body, in my brain. I lost my appetite — for food, for fun. You made every conversation about yourself. I could hear you doing it and would sit frozen, unable to make it stop.
“I lost my appetite — for food, for fun.”
I won’t lie, it’s taken years to wrench myself away from you. Hard as I try to be cool-girl tough and aloof, I am a bleeding heart who takes eons to heal. Would you believe me if I said I felt healed?
It’s funny how alike we are — same eyes, same smile — and how far away we find ourselves. I see flashes of you in brief moments; when the fog rolls in and rational thought flees the room. But then you’re gone, and I’m back, and I feel glad to find myself here.
I’m probably not giving you enough credit for what you brought me: All that time you spent being lost gave me the directions to get back to myself. That broken heart you nursed gave me one that feels fuller than I could have ever imagined. The shame you experienced from the intensity of your emotions showed me that vulnerability is courageous. Softness is strength.
We are all so many selves, and it’s becoming clearer that we will never be fully detached. You are my past, after all, forever tethered to my now. Joan Didion advises that we “keep on nodding terms with the people we used to be, whether we find them attractive company or not”. And I suppose that’s what this letter is — a nod to you. An acknowledgment of existence. You were here at one stage, you shouldered a heartbreak, and in that respect I don’t regret a thing. I wouldn’t be me if it weren’t for you, regardless of how unattractive company you were at the time.
“It’s becoming clearer that we will never be fully detached.”
I want you to know that you served a purpose — that the hurt and the change and the pervasive anxiety that rippled through you like electricity wasn’t for nothing. All your fractured pieces reworked the blueprint for who I am now, someone who is calmer and stronger and confident and loving. Each time I catch a glimpse of your shadow I’m reminded of what I’ll no longer accept, and I revisit your words when I’m in need of perspective. You were so afraid of taking up too much space that you made yourself very small. Needless to say, I don’t try to make myself small anymore.
Here is the deepest secret nobody knows / here is the root of the root and the bud of the bud: you never actually ‘got away’. I let you go. Finally releasing the vice grip I had on that version of my life, I watched you drift into the ether and turned around into the sun.
I have never been more glad for heartache. Despite all arguments otherwise, I don’t think I’d change a thing. On certain days, in certain light, I catch myself thinking that it’s the best thing to ever happen to me. To us.
I am in love in a way I have never been before — a big, shiny, colourful love. I am forever grateful for your lessons, but I’m so much fonder of me now.
Thank you for everything.