It’s society’s expectation that when you meet the right one, you fall in love and it just all falls into place. You find a counterpart who understands every fear, every need, every part of you, and the world makes sense while the two of you coexist as a partnership.
Well, I want to talk to the rest of you. The non-lifelong counterparts. The ones who were something for a time, but who just weren’t “The Ones.” Most of us have been through at least one, maybe more, of these relationships. The people in your life who made you feel so alive there was no other way to explain it, but just didn’t make it through to the rest of your life in that way.
All of you: You were mine—and you know who you are, who you were, and what you meant to me. And I think it’s important to share as a universally relatable topic.
I want you to know how much the good moments affected me and how much the bad ones impacted me. I want you to know that I’m thankful for both. I really am. There were things I experienced in the short term with you that I may never have with anyone else.
There were lessons I learned that brought me to my knees and made me question how I could ever move on with my life. And there were other times that made me so excited to know and experience the feelings I could feel when you showed me what it could be like.
The reality is that when our hearts break, we go into survival mode. We do so by condemning the relationship and convincing ourselves and our friends and family that we are “better off without them.”
Think of how ironic that is against the words we claimed when we saw nothing but love through our eyes. We believed that we made each other better, and yet we say we’re better off without each other when that belief changes.
I want to address that. Because I think it’s important to say that you all made me feel better in so many ways then, but that I’m also better now. Those two ideas can coincide and it’s okay. It’s natural.
So let me retract anything negative that I said just to feel better then. I’m better than that now, as a human being who has spent a lot of time reflecting on her own and as her own support system. I recognize that other things just made sense for you and for me. Recognizing that there is a blatant or subtle reason for why things don’t work out but did for a time. In hindsight, we can figure out why a certain human came to be in our lives and may no longer be. Each one of you were a reason for me.
While it may seem up to this point that I am speaking to you as one, you must know that the reason, the feeling, and the memory with each of you are very different and very special in their own way.
The things we did together were different. Each of you know who I was in those moments. I was different with you because you brought out something different in me. I told you who I was, how I was impacted by the others, how I felt different with you, and I opened my heart to you and only you at the time.
Sometimes, you and I weren’t ready to share what it takes to invest in that kind of emotional depth, and that’s okay. Others of you were ready, perhaps more than I was, and I just wasn’t the one. We just weren’t right, but there was still a reason for us at the time. And that’s okay, too.
I’m happy to see where many of you have landed, happy and with the person who helps you feel that every day. Or most days. I’m no one to presume I know your relationships now.
What’s important to know here is that, while some of the memories may be painful or hard to think about, we shouldn’t erase them. They can still exist. They can still be a part of who we are now. Each past relationship or important encounter with another person was meant for something. Helped us grow. Helped us learn. Helped us feel. Helped us become. Helped us manifest what we have now, whether it’s another person or a life or a love for our own self.
All of you guided me there. To loving myself in a different way, a better way. To feeling a genuine care and respect for myself I didn’t always have. You all gave me bits and pieces of why that was important to learn. You all gave me different reasons and showed me different things I couldn’t see before. That’s what was special about each of you.
That’s why I’m writing this to you now. To say thank you. A universally important thank you that we could all practice giving gratitude for, for the ones who weren’t the ones. Because they were the ones for some time, just not for always.
Pop culture and social media tend to teach us that our exes are to be erased, but I don’t believe in that in the truest sense. While it’s important to move forward, erasing takes away from the powerful experiences we had that shaped us in so many ways and allowed us to mold our lives and our current relationships into things that couldn’t have come to fruition without our pasts.
So because of this notion, I want you to know I will always hold space for you.
I’ll always remember things we shared that were deeper and things we laughed about on the surface. I’ll remember it all with some sadness and also some joy, but always with gratitude. I’ve let you all go with love, the same way you have let me go, but it doesn’t mean your memory fades. It will never discredit what we felt when we felt it.
I will always recall the memories of places traveled, of songs sung in the car, of nights in beds with views unfathomable, of conversations we had where we taught each other new things, of arguments debated tirelessly and intelligently, of moments where we looked at each other and smiled and didn’t need to say anything because we could just be.
Of these moments, I’ll remember what it felt like. What WE felt like. To be us. To be learning. To be growing and evolving and feeling SOMETHING we’d never felt before. Something different each time. Something that made us better.
So thank you for it all. Thank you for being someone who mattered to me even if you weren’t “The One.” It will always, always matter to me.