The One That Got Away has been edited by Aashna Kanuga.
We all must have met someone who just gets us. Understands us. Makes us feel complete and secure. Somebody who, in spite of the fact that we were at our lowest, took us in and made us feel that we were doing precisely what we were intended to do and being all we intended to be. If you have not met anyone like that yet, you will. Give it time.
She is—or will be—someone who liberated your heart from the shackles of disgrace and enabled you to start carrying on with your life once more. Somebody who made you feel that you were in precisely the perfect place at precisely the right time and in that moment, nothing else mattered. You may have been struggling, but she held your hand and made you realise that even though it sucked, you had her to fall back on. That even though the road was not easy, she was going to walk with you. Every step of the way.
I cannot see it happening over and over through the course of my life. In any case, lamentably, I feel like very frequently we are left thinking of the days gone by, wishing we had accomplished all that we could, wishing we had fought harder, laughed and cried more or that you should have kissed her more.
What do you do when she leaves your life? How do you push ahead? You are told that there is plenty of fish in the sea, but in all honesty, you have stopped looking because you know. You know that no matter what, that void is too big to be filled. Maybe one day you change your opinion, but for now, you cannot look at anyone else. You may never do.
I do realise that the best way is to move on. However, I need to tell you this. We met at my breaking point. Six months later, you left. You left me right at the moment when things were finally looking up. You may never know the amount it hurt me, the haunting thoughts about where I went wrong, the endless bottles of whisky that kept me company through this or the sleep I lost thinking about you. After all this while, I am finally trying to write about or express my feelings—something I have always been horrible at.
I will always love you.
Cliché? Maybe. The truth? Definitely.
I was lost. Barely getting by. Unable, and on some levels unwilling, to move past all that had happened before. Stuck in my head, were the sad stories. I was solely focused on the negatives. I had begun to give up and you had sensed it. But, you knew the way out for me. You taught me to forget. This time, however, not with the help of alcohol or meaningless ‘encounters’ with strangers. You replaced those memories.
In a lot of ways, you fixed me. You rescued me from the disaster I was going to become. You were there next to me when everyone else walked away. How will I ever repay that debt? You showed me that no matter how difficult it got, we could always move past the pain. There really was light at the end of the tunnel. You made me believe in words like ‘hope’ and ‘faith’ again. Pulled me back from that ledge. You made me smile like I once used to in old pictures.
From the first time I saw you, I knew there was something about you. You were beautiful and you were smart, wore your heart on your sleeve and you laughed. You were living life and you were loving it. I found that fascinating. The more I got to know you, the more similar, yet different we were. We smoked the same cigarettes. We both loved iced tea more than cold coffee. Pink Floyd meant something to the both of us. Our love for Old Monk was mutual.
You were exactly what I needed at exactly the right time.
I wish circumstances would have been different. Oh, what I would give to have things turn out differently but we both know that cannot happen. You made a decision to walk away when I became serious. It was something that you had to do for yourself and I will never question you about that. That is what you told me and that id what I am going to believe. I did not understand it then, and I still do not. However, I respect it. Sometimes, I am unable to believe I do not get to hold you in bed, but I know that you are happy where you are at right now. Ultimately, that is all that matters to me—your smile. I could not see you crying then. I cannot see you crying today.
There is a part of my soul that will never quite recover from having let you into my life. I wonder if I will ever be able to feel completely whole again without that piece of me, but I would never ask for it back.
I would rather be hurting constantly than risking an existence without the memory of you. Yes, you are the one that got away. But you are also someone who made me who I am.
For the one who comes next, I want you to know that I am scarred and broken. I have my baggage. These scars may not be visible on our bodies, but they are persistent in our memories. She is there in my memory. I cannot erase her. Will not erase her.
I tell myself I am over you but a part of me will always be hopeful. That maybe someday. Like some perfect romantic comedy, I will move on, because that is how life works, and eventually, time heals all pain, but I would still say yes to you ten years down the line. Or twenty.
I truly hope you are happy. That you are meeting new people and making new memories. I know that your parents are super proud of you. You do not need to be so anxious all the time. Kick back with a beer and just breathe. In the end, the Highway to Hell often leads us to Paradise City. If you are reading this, you will know what I just did there. But chances are, you are not.
I hope you think of me sometimes. Maybe one day our paths will cross again but for now, I am going to try to forget you. I am going to try to remember the worst of you so that I might have a shot. But it will not work. No matter how hard I try.
I guess now that I have nothing more to say, I will say what I always said:
I’ll be seeing you.
To read more by the author of The One That Got Away, click here.