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My first breakup was almost 3 years ago. I was 15 and in what felt like love with my best friend. Heartbreak is a difficult thing to describe unless the person you are explaining it to has experienced it themselves. I've gone through a fair number of things in my brief 18 years, none of which I will divulge here, but my first breakup is still the cause of the most pain that I have ever felt.
So this is to you, an open letter.
I highly doubt that you will read it, but I'd like to start by pleading that you read until the end, I'm not bitter anymore, I'd just like a favour, for the good times we had, as friends, and whilst we were together.
For the sake of keeping you anonymous, I'll refer to you as John.
It's been a long time since we've spoken now, you blocked me on a good number of social media sites after the breakup to ensure cutting me off was kept simple and quick. I don't know why you would want to hurt me like that, we were friends for years, John. I remember meeting you for the first time, you had a crush on my best friend! (I know you don't speak to her anymore, so in case you were wondering, I don't think she's doing too great at school. I think she's finding making new friends a little daunting, but her relationship is going well, maybe message her if you get the time, you always made her laugh, she could use that right now.)
The first time I spoke to you was to urge you on to ask her on a date, because I knew that she really liked you. Who wouldn't? You were shy, but once you opened up to someone you were really funny, sweet, loved dogs, were a great older brother and all these other wonderful things that I thought made you absolutely amazing, and perfect for my best friend, let's call her Jane. Although I don't think she likes that name (sorry, Jane).
You asked her to go on a date when I said to you 'She likes confident guys.' and nudged you with my elbow; this was 5 years ago, but I can still remember it clear as day. Walking down the street on our way home from school in late summer, the air felt warm and the sun had already begun to set. I miss that, walking home with you.
You went on a date shortly afterwards, there had been a sex scene in the film that had made you feel so awkward you told me that you'd gone bright red. You were so embarrassed that you spilt the popcorn from your lap on the way to the bathroom, nice one, John. You didn't go on a date again afterwards, but we'd started to become friends at that point, as you used to confide in me and tell me about your crush on Jane, not knowing who else to turn to or ask for help other than her best friend for 'female advice', you said.
We quickly began spending more time together, we'd meet over at the park, go to the shops to see what we could get cheaply (we met often, and couldn't afford much; as young teens our money was little) and simply used to sit in the park's field for hours, laughing and joking and sitting a little bit too close together for friends, but not close enough to be a couple.
You were the first boy I had a crush on so strongly. At first, I treated you as I had every other boy, I would meet up with you wearing a shirt, jeans, trainers and a hoodie. My mother always questioned 'You're not really meeting a boy dressed like that, are you?'
And I in return would say; 'Of course, it's only John!'
Jane had been fine with the development of my feelings (for those of you reading that are not John.) and encouraged it.
My fashion taste was appalling as a young teenager, and I soon began to worry what you would think of my outfits and how I looked. That was when I started to realise that I liked you. I remember when I was 14, you asking me out. I was sitting in the living room with my family, we were all watching a film but I was far too occupied talking to you on WhatsApp to pay much attention. We'd been laughing and joking as usual, until your replies started to slow. I asked if you were all right, and you came out and said how happy talking to me made you feel, and that I always brightened your day,
You spent a good 5 minutes rewording the message before finally typing;
'(my name), I've liked you for a while now, if you don't feel the same way, it's fine but I just wanted to let you know, and I was wondering if maybe you did feel the same'.
As poorly worded as it was, I was so, so happy. I immediately responded telling you that I felt the same and we went to the cinema for a date a few days later. I remember being so nervous, sitting there in the dark that I could barely focus on the film.
I perched my hand upon the armrest that sat between us and you quickly placed your hand over mine and smiled down at me, I can't remember the last time I felt both so nervous and happy simultaneously.
We met at the park a few days later, and instead of nervous, I felt comfortable, a relationship with your best friend sounded ideal, as there was no awkward small talk or getting to know each other.
You walked me home that evening and held my hand as we walked. Once we were outside my house, it was already twilight (my curfew was a few hours earlier) you then said to me, as we stood there in the warm, summer darkness, 'I forgot to do this the other day', and you kissed me.
I'll never forget that, John. I've kissed many other boys by now, but none I remember as clearly as the first kiss I shared with my first love.
I held a party at mine for Halloween, I'd only invited our group of friends, but in my first experience with alcohol I completely misjudged my tolerance and ended up with my head in the toilet, hair held back by John. (I haven't drank since, and the smell of vodka still makes me feel nauseous.)
How you stayed by me with that I'll never know, it was really gross.
You helped me clean myself up and we all crashed at mine. We lay on the sofa bed and you kissed my forehead, and I fell asleep in the crook of your shoulder, you no doubt, probably got a dead arm, sorry about that, and thank you for looking after me that evening and not taking advantage.
We met up many times in the park after that, and at your house to play video games. Your dog was absolutely adorable, please give her a hug from me, I miss her too.
Everything started to change when, in December, we got a transfer student. She was in my P.E. class, and our group reached out to her as she had no one to talk to. She was very beautiful, and her figure made me feel pudgy and short and made me start to dislike how I looked, I remember that.
I suppose my drop in self-esteem began when you became good friends with her. I could see it, when I sat next to you, that out of the corner of your eye, you were looking at her as your arm hung limply around my shoulder.
We'd sit in the library, our friends, all together, and you'd always, without fail, help with her work, and choose to ignore me in favour of it.
I understand, you were a nice guy John. I know you were, but you could have spared my feelings and broke it off with me when you knew you no longer cared about me.
You began hanging out with her, and I became an afterthought. I never told you that I knew, because you hadn't personally told me, but you told her and Jane that you had attempted suicide. I wondered if it was my fault, was I to blame? I cried in the middle of the local high street when Jane told me. I couldn't hold back the tears because I cared about you so much and the thought of you being gone frightened me beyond belief.
Why didn't you tell me, John? I would have listened! No matter what it was I would have been there for you, you must know that. I didn't even feel betrayed that you hadn't told me, I was just deeply worried for your well being.
We started meeting less regularly at this point, I had a job at florists on Sundays, and you'd meet me after my shift ended. I knew, this one evening, that you were going to break up with me. When you asked me to meet in the park rather than meeting me outside work, I knew.
I walked slowly from work that evening, I walked as slowly towards the park as I possibly could, taking in all the people around me, wondering where they were going, looking at the stars, trying to distract myself from what was imminent.
The park, however, was only a ten-minute walk away, and eventually I arrived, we met in the middle of the hill. We walked up the hill, slowly. I felt as though the more slowly I walked, the less quickly it would happen, I could spend more time with you, maybe convince you to change your mind.
At the top of the hill, you stopped, and I could see it in your eyes, they told me, clear as day that you no longer cared, blank-faced, you said; 'This isn't working anymore' all I could bring myself to say was 'Oh.' Which was pathetic, I wasn't even surprised. You offered to walk me home, but I couldn't have you see me cry. So I said no, and I stood there, on that hill, in the darkness, watching you walk away, knowing that I'd lost my best friend.
I burst into tears once you were out of sight. I called Jane and she and I went to get ice cream, I cried for over an hour but good friends always help greatly when in emotional pain.
I saw you at school with her, the transfer student. Your hand wrapped tightly in hers. I hated you for doing that. I hated her for a while too, before realising it wasn't her that was at fault.
We never really spoke after that, our group of friends split in two because of that. How selfish of us.
I refused to speak about you for a long time, a few months later a distant family friend visited and asked how you were and I burst into tears at a dinner table in a restaurant. 'Don't mind her.' My mum had said, 'She's still in love.'
I threw myself into other relationships. But the thought of you and reminders of you in everyday things, mint ice cream, the park, the games we used to play, still brought me to tears.
Everything around me brought back thoughts of you I didn't wish to resurface.
I most recently thought of you today, actually. I saw a border collie, like your dog. That's why I'm writing this. Today was the first time that I was reminded of you and felt neutral towards the memories we share.
A big part of this was me moving away. I moved out of the city we knew each other in, and into a fresh start devoid of associations I could make.
I know you're with another girl now, one of our old friends told me. She seems lovely and she's very pretty. Nice one, John.
What I really, really wanted to ask you is to be honest with your feelings, John. I don't want another girl hurt as badly as I was by you. Please treat her well. Please, if you ever feel anything is wrong, tell her! Confide in her! She's with you because she cares about that smirk and that messy hair and everything about you that makes you so easy to grow fond of. I know that it's hard to confide in people, but I still worry about you, John.
You have so, so many people who care for you, including myself.
We may not be on good terms but I would still never want to see you hurt, at this point, all I wish is for you to be happy, and if one day, you feel like talking to me again, you know where to find me,
Someone who still deeply cares.