I saw one of my ex boyfriends (He Who Shall Not Be Named the II - HWSNBN II* see below for context) for the first time in almost a year and for the first time my stomach didn't hit the floor and I didn't want to cry.
Seeing him a few weeks ago and not having the same old intense reaction is important because let's flashback to February 13th 2015.
I was in a card shop buying a Valentine's Day card for my best friend (Galentine's Day obviously). I was standing behind a rack of Moleskine diaries and I heard a familiar voice. I popped my head around the diaries and saw the back of HWSNBN the II's head as he was in the queue to pay for a card. I knew it was him in an instant. I recognised him from the back of his head and his old rucksack that he still used. We hadn't spoken in the 7 months since he'd broken up with me so suddenly, let alone been in the same room as each other. I still wasn't over our break up, I'd been reeling from it pretty much since the day it happened. I'd constantly had 'what ifs' in my mind - what if we hadn't broken up, what if he cared about me as much as I cared about him? He was constantly on my mind.
So standing behind the diary stand hidden from his view, I knew I had two options: 1) Hide behind the Moleskines and wait for it all to be over or 2) Bite the bullet and go speak to him.
My brain was screaming 'STAY WHERE YOU ARE DON'T DO IT' but my stupid little heart was shouting 'GO SPEAK TO HIM'. It was a split second decision and before I knew it I went up to him, put my hand on his arm and went "Hey!" The second I touched him I knew it was the worst decision I could have made. He looked at me with panic in his eyes, clutching a Valentine's Day card for his new girlfriend. We both knew what the other one was thinking: that last year we were the ones spending Valentine's Day together and now he was with someone else.
We exchanged the most awkward small talk, lasting about 2 minutes, whilst he paid. He then said goodbye. I paid for my friend's card and left the shop sobbing all the way home, not understanding how seven months later I was still so heartbroken about it and how I couldn't let him go.
So fast forward to February 2016.
I was sat on a bench waiting for a friend scrolling through Instagram and for some reason I happened to look up and there he was.
He didn't see me but like last year I knew it was him the second I looked up, even one year later. I recognised him from his side profile, his coat and how he walked. Mercifully he was alone, didn't see me and there was no sign of any Valentine's merchandise with him.
I watched him walk away and remember thinking "I wish...". I never finished the thought.
It made me wonder how strange life can be. If I hadn't looked up in that second I would have been none the wiser that HWSNBN II - my first real love, had walked past me. It was also interesting to me that I couldn't finish my thought. When I have previously seen him it made my stomach curdle and I always thought "I wish we were still together".
So 1 year and 6 months since he broke my heart I think I can say that I've finally let go of him.
It happened slowly, so slowly in fact that I didn't even realise it until I saw him again. I still have so many memories of him that I can see as clearly as if they're film clips, but I don't find myself longing to have him back in my life. My heart isn't broken anymore, it's a little bit bashed, bruised and reluctant to get back in the swing of things but seeing him and not feeling that sad desperation was reassuring.
Life does go on, and even the people who hurt you the most will fade out of your heart. They won't fade out entirely but they will leave enough space to make room for something new.
It does just take time, even if that's the hardest bit to accept.
*Some context: HWSNBN II and I dated for almost 11 months from the end of 2013. I was head over heels in love with him and the happiest I had ever been - he was my first true love. But alas that turned out to be a little one-sided. One morning in August 2014 hepulled a Joe Jonas on meand broke up with me on the phone. It broke me and I was a mess for what felt like the longest time. I saw him a few times following the break up and it was horrendous.