“There are plenty of ways to die. But only love can keep you alive to feel it.”
Dear Andy from one year ago,
First of all, I have to admit. I know this seems like a scene from The Flash- where Barry Allen is time-travelling and everything. So I can understand if you feel weird but trust me, there’s nothing weird about me writing to you. People do that all the time.
Okay, maybe not all the time.
Whatever. This isn’t weird. That’s my point.
The next twelve months are going to be the hardest in your whole life for a variety of reasons. But I have already been through it whereas you haven’t. So I am going to prepare you the best I can. I know what you’re thinking.
“What does a mere 12 months matter?”
Believe me. It matters. A lot. Especially when it comes to the next twelve months of your life.
We’ll start with Ella. As you read this letter, you’re dating her. Nobody – including the two of you – thought that long distance would work but you’ve made it nearly one and a half years since that first evening together on January 21st. And that’s great. But there’s something I need to tell you and there’s no easy way to do this. So, here goes.
You guys will break up.
And you will break up in less than a month.
It will be painful. It will be one of the hardest moments, one of the longest seconds and one of your lowest points when she says “Maybe it’s best if we didn’t do this anymore.” You even remember the exact day it happens. And you will never forget it for the rest of your life. You guys would be two continents apart and yet that moment will hit you like a bullet searing through your heart. At the time, the whole thing is a shock to you and you don’t know how to handle it. So you won’t say anything. You’ll accept it. It’s just blunt trauma- you don’t feel the pain then. You just know you’ve taken a massive hit.
And when the pain hits you, you will do your best to suppress it but eventually it will get the better of you. One evening in July, you will call her and you will shout at her. Half of the time, you won’t even know what you’re saying because you have never experienced such a cocktail of emotions. You will feel betrayed, you will feel angry and you will feel hurt. She will get angry at you, and you will say things to each other that you have never said before and you will vow never to say again to any person- let alone someone who loved you.
Now, trust me when I say this. Do yourself a favour and don’t do it. When she breaks up with you, it will be difficult. But just accept it and move on as quickly and as cleanly as you can. You have to realise that you wouldn’t be who you are today without her. She made you a much better person than you would’ve been otherwise. She gave your life colour, she gave your existence a reason, and she’s the reason you achieved so much in your professional life for the last one and a half years. She kept you going through the hard times and laughed with you when you were happy. Be thankful for all that and realise that without her, you wouldn’t be where you are today.
Of course, you will talk to each other again. And both of you will apologise. As I write to you today, I cannot say that we are friends again- that will still take some time, if ever. But we are at least on talking terms and we do care about each other. If you play your cards right, it doesn’t have to come to this. You can do better than me.
I know what you’re thinking. If I can tell you what to do after your breakup, why can I not tell you how to stop the breakup in the first place? I could. But part of you already knows why I won’t tell you. Deep down, you know that sustaining your relationship is a hard ask on both of you- especially given that both of your priorities in life are different. So, like I said, accept it and move on- as quickly as you can.
Of course, today as I write to you, I have moved on but it took me the best part of 2016 to do it. And in that period, because I didn’t know how to handle this, I screwed up a friendship- or at least what I thought was a friendship- that I really valued. But that doesn’t need to happen to you. You still have a chance to save it, to move on and really connect with that person even if it is only as a friend. I didn’t do it and I regret it every single day. But you don’t have to be me. And I don’t want you to be me- because I am an emotional wreck who gets worse every single day because of this. You can be better than me. You have to be better than me- not for anybody else’s sake but your own.
Maybe it’s too late for me to reverse what has already happened. But you still have time to do it right. So take it and don’t look back like I am doing today, wondering what might have been.
Andy from one year later.
P.S. : This was one of the hardest pieces I have had to write simply because of the emotions involved. One year ago, I would never have been able to write something like this because of the magnitude of what had happened then and what followed over the subsequent months. But life has finally come a full circle and I guess that by the time I wrote this (late May to be precise), I had enough in me to express what I wanted to and gain some kind of closure.