a love letter to myself

by nicole gheller

He told me he didn’t want anything serious – and that’s when I should have ended it. Instead, I let myself get carried away.

We’d been friends for almost four years when we decided to cross the line into something more. I felt comfortable around him. There wasn’t any pressure on me to pretend to be perfect because he already knew me.

We were together for four months and for me that’s a long time. At twenty-three, it’s the longest I have ever been with the same person. I knew it was going to end but I deeply hoped it wouldn’t. So I allowed myself to fall.

I fell for the way he would kiss the tip of my nose and his sleepy eyes in the morning, his passion for art and how he’d hold me while we slept.

Throughout the last month I found myself wanting to ask him whether he had changed his mind on not wanting anything serious. Maybe he had allowed himself to fall, too.

"I knew it was going to end but I deeply hoped it wouldn’t. So I allowed myself to fall."

I got my answer on a rainy Saturday night. We were out with our friends and I told him I was going home. He said, “Okay, let’s go,” and we walked to the cloakroom together. By the time I’d put my coat on he had ended things.

I have no idea what happened in the thirteen seconds it took to walk from the dance floor to the cloakroom. I waited for the tears to flood my eyes, but for some reason I couldn’t cry. As I made my way to the bus stop, raindrops rolled down my cheeks instead of tears. The whole way home I wanted to cry, but my heart refused to accept it.

It wasn’t until I got home and said the words “he ended it” out loud to my flatmate that my eyes finally started to water. I went to bed and hoped it was all a drunken dream.

The next day I woke up and broke down in tears. Kind of like Diane Keaton in Something’s Gotta Give, in fact, that whole crying scene describes exactly how I’ve been since. I went from spending Sunday in bed with him to crying into my pillow all alone.

My friends bombarded me with supportive messages. I wanted to be alone but I also wanted to talk about it. I was so confused; everything had seemed fine earlier that night. They kept telling me that someone better would come along but in that moment I didn’t want anyone else. I needed reassurance that it was okay for me to be upset, that what I felt was real and that I needed to cry my heart out.

For them it probably seemed like nothing. Most of them are in long-term relationships or have had long-term relationships come to an end, but for me it was the first time I was experiencing a breakup.

I drifted in and out of sleep while The Notebook played in the background; it felt like the perfect movie to cry to. I kept my phone on ‘Do Not Disturb’ to take a break from my friends. I called my mum and cried some more. I later woke up to a message from him apologising for how he ended it. There was nothing I could say. I wanted to tell him that I wanted to be with him but I couldn’t convince him to do something he didn’t want to do. So I said nothing. I let the tears roll down my face for the rest of the day. I replayed every moment in my head; from the first time he made me dinner to the last night we spent together. I could have spent another four months with him, but he didn’t see me in his future.

Now all of these questions cloud my mind: Did he even like me? Did it break his heart when he saw the look in my eyes when he ended it? Is he over it already? Has he moved on with someone else?

"Maybe the journey to embracing vulnerability was less about him, and more about me realising I can and am capable of love."

Right now, I just need time to allow myself to feel sad about it. It’s going to take some time, but the fact that I’m feeling something gives me comfort. For a long time, I felt that I would never be able to get close to someone at an intimate level. It makes me happy to know that I was capable of it.

Looking back on it, I don’t consider it a waste of my time. I had fun with him, and I enjoyed every moment we spent together. At this point it still hurts when I remember that he doesn’t want to be with me, but I don’t hate him for it – and most importantly, I don’t blame myself. Even in the midst of sadness and confusion, the pain lets me know that what I felt was real, and that I finally had something with someone worth crying about. 

Ultimately, I’m happy I let myself fall. Even if we aren’t together now, and even if it didn’t end up the way I had hoped, maybe the journey to embracing vulnerability was less about him, and more about me realising I can and am capable of love. If I could go back in time, I would do it all over again.