The Courage To Say Goodbye

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Memoir  |  House: Booksie Classic

A reflection of my fruitless unrequited romance during my teenage and very early adulthood.

Comments and criticisms are welcome.

Submitted: March 06, 2018

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Submitted: March 06, 2018



Why is it so hard to forget someone dear who has hurt you?

Why is it, that despite all the grief, all the frustrations, and all the anger, you continue to have unrequited feelings for one that person, time and time again?

And lastly, why is it so difficult to say goodbye?


When I first saw her, I was too nervous to talk to her. Once I started talking to her, I grew afraid of liking her. And by the time I realized I liked her, she became all I could think of.

Back then, we were both young teens. I was still a naïve and foolish young boy. After becoming her friend, I scared and pushed her away after coming on too strong. I made her cry, and I hated myself because of that. For three years afterwards, I lived a living hell. While she moved on, I remained trapped in a prison of my own design with no exit in sight. I became a miserable, depressed creature where everything was tinted in gray.

When we progressed to college in 2011 at sweet sixteen, we were very different people from before. She had become more beautiful. Charming, friendly, and lovely. I became friends with her once more. We spent countless hours after school together with many different people, wasting time with playing cards and indulging in each other’s company. I thought we could just remain friends.

But those old feelings returned, stronger and more determined than before. Even so, I knew how she felt. I knew there was no point in all this, yet nonetheless, I fell in love with her again.

This time round, I played it cool and acted as the good ‘boy-friend’ to her. I forced aside all my desires, frustrations, and sufferings; hiding them under warm smiles and kind words. We shared moments where I felt so close to her that my heart would clench, ready to burst. I wanted her, I needed her, but I could not have her. Slowly, I was dying on the inside.

When she started dating another guy, a common friend of ours, I was devastated. I became confused and angry at everything. I wanted to hate her, yet all I could feel for her was warm affection, along with sickening despise for myself. My other friends, the best one could hope for, were what kept me sane. Doing stupid things, childish things, idiotic things, they brought color back to my colorless adolescence and gave me the strength to carry on despite the tears in my heart.

This façade continued for a whole year, until a few days before my seventeenth birthday when I properly told her how I felt. Of course, I got turned down. I had hoped things would end there between us, but it didn’t. Because somehow, she makes me smile for no reason whatsoever, makes me laugh at the un-funniest things, and most of all she makes me love her when I shouldn’t.

I continued to be her friend throughout college, through good times and bad. We spoke daily, either verbally or digitally. I came to learn so much about her, both the pretty and ugly, and accepted them as who she was. But she was happy with him, and somehow that made me happy too.

When they finally broke up, I actually felt sad. He was far from normal, but he made her happy for a while. Her sadness made me miserable. There were days when I prayed for her to be happy, even if it costs me my own happiness. I stayed by her side through our last school trip, forging memories which I will never forget. It was during then I gave her a token of my feelings. A metallic rose. Funny enough, she didn’t understand what it meant.

Despite my passion, I knew I had to give up on her. I decided that after we finished school and moved on to different universities, I will truly let her go. But of course, the best laid plans of mice and men often go awry. Through some blessed – or maybe malicious – twist of fate, she ended up coming to where I was going.

In autumn of 2013, I started my bachelor’s degree and she a foundation course; both of us living in the same little city half-way across the world with a five-minute walk from each other. It quickly became a curse and a blessing at the same time.

I met her on a daily basis. I welcomed her to my shared flat, who adopted her as the ‘10th flatmate who lives five minutes away’. I walked her home each night whenever she visited – almost every day. We shared and cooked each other’s meals. We watched movies through her laptop in her dorm room. We talked to each other about all sorts of things going on in our lives. During those brief moments in time, I felt like I was in heaven.

But every time I walked back from her place, alone, I felt it. I knew it. That sooner or later, I must return to reality and tell her the truth. Of playing cards after school till sunset, of asking her to hold onto my precious medallion necklace when I was taken to hospital, of the metal rose, of the all things I needed to say to her.

So I did, during the winter of my first year aboard. And as expected, I got turned down despite knowing the answer even before I asked the question. Once again, I became depressed. But this time, it didn’t fester like a gangrenous wound. I suppose that’s the benefit of having an unrequited love for six years; one gets used to having their hearts shattered.

We didn’t meet for several days afterwards, and that actually hurt more than being rejected. For all my supposed wisdom and experience, I still missed seeing and being with her!

That was when I realized. Like a moth attracted to flame, I will burn myself time and time again for her sake. So long as we remain anything but strangers, I will not be able to give her up.

If you truly love someone, you have to let them go.

I never liked that quote, but I’ve finally come to understand and accept it.

One fateful night, she contacted me. She needed emotional support. The walk to her place felt longer and more stressful than ever before. When I got there and took stock of the situation, I decided.

She’ll be fine. She has many friends of her own, and she can cope independently of me. Why shouldn’t she? She’s a smart, charming, and lovely young lady. She was never alone from the day I knew her, and I am an arrogant fool to assume she would keep me closest in her heart.

That was when I knew, I had to end this. For two hours I stayed by her side, and we did what I loved best whenever I’m with her. We talked.

I told her the truth of everything. Of past words unsaid and desires unmet. I told her I could not see her anymore. She did not want that, and neither did I! But I could not do this to myself or to her anymore. I told her everything I wanted to say in the time we had. When it was time for me to go, I said to her for the first and only time.


Before, I would say ‘bye’ or another alternative of it with the intention of seeing her again. But this time, it truly was goodbye. Though battered, scarred, and never properly healed, I was finally unchained from the shackles of my own making.

At last, I am free.

Years passed. Though we remained friends on Facebook and attended the same university, we never met up. The few times we crossed paths, it felt like encountering a familiar stranger; after the initial surprise, there is calm and upon parting ways, is put aside.

These days, of the rare times when I reminisce about the past and she crops up, I wonder.

Was it worth it? Suffering for so long because of one girl?

Is there any meaning to a failed love; is something that will someday disappear, the same as something that never existed? After all these years, I now know the answer. There is a meaning, and it’s right here.

So what if it was pathetic, or if I embarrassed myself in front of everyone. My feelings, my memories, all bittersweet treasures, are real. And nobody can take those from me.

As time passes, these memories will fade and the day will come where I won’t remember this one-sided love. In fact even now, many important details have blurred to the point where I only remember what was felt. But I’m certain. Those wonderful days where you were there, where I was there, along with all our friends of the time, will continue revolving like a never-ending Ferris Wheel somewhere deep in my heart. Forever.

So despite everything, I want to thank you. For being my friend, for giving and for taking away so much from me.

While I hope to never see you again, I will never regret the fact I worked up the courage to talk to you for the first time.

And I will never regret the time I worked up the courage to say goodbye.

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