The EX files: Meeting and letting go of your TOTGA

Do you remember your first year in high school? You were so excited to meet new people and looked forward to every adventure that might come your way. People always say “high school life” is the most exciting part of being a student. It’s where you get to experience all of your firsts. Since I am a romance author, let’s talk about [probably] everyone’s favorite first—first crush.

Oh yes, there’s this cute boy in your class that puberty seemed to have forgotten about. His sleek jet-black hair parted down the middle made him look hotter when he brushed it up with his fingers. His skin was smooth without a trace of pimple and he both looked and smelled like he just finished getting ready for school, (shower and all), even though it was already 3 p.m. and classes were about to be dismissed. He was the quickest to raise his hand whenever the math teacher asks someone to solve something on the board, and his answers were always right. He was nice to everyone and especially to you because he was your seatmate. He’d let you borrow his notebook in history and he’d ask you if you could help him a little bit in English. And when he smiled… ooh whenever he smiled it was almost as if Christmas morning was on its way. The more you got to know him, the more you wanted to spend time with him. And when he finally realized that maybe he should spend some time with you too, the school year was over. It’s summer break and he’s about to spend the next eight weeks with his grandparents in the province. There’s always the next year, they said. You’d see him again, they said.

Except that, on the day you saw him again, you were no longer excited. He got his hair shaved and he tanned, and you realized that there are a lot of things that could happen in eight weeks. After all, you had a great summer too. The school years came and went and as you grew older, you’d always remember him as that first boy who gave you butterflies in the stomach and taught you what true love is, and that it wasn’t him.

College life was a different story altogether. You’ve met several guys and learned what the nice, the bad, and the tough ones looked like. Years of infatuation somehow allowed you to discover what you look for in a guy. You more or less have an idea about what kind of person you would want to spend your precious time with.

There’s this new guy on the varsity team and he quickly became popular, especially among the girls. No, you didn’t think he was good-looking enough based on your standards, but he looked tough. Lean. Muscular. The kind of guy who would make you feel safe when he walked you home late in the evening and the streets were dark and dangerous. All of your friends liked him, and they’ve been asking you what kind of girl wouldn’t want a guy like him when you told them he wasn’t your type. You just shrugged and thought about how you haven’t gotten over the parted-down-the-middle-haired guys who were good at math and had the ability to make you squirm in your seat (in a good way) with just one look. Well-chiseled chests and sinewy muscles never appealed to you. You didn’t want gym guys who’d punch the face of anyone who’d make you upset. You wanted library guys who’d help you research for your homework in the town library and eat ice cream and French fries with you after.

Fast forward to when you graduated and finally got a job. You realized that work-life is tough as hell, and unlike when you were a student, possessing a diploma meant you were supposed to be smart even though you had no idea what to do as an adult. In choosing someone to be with, you were expected not to base it just on your feelings. There were also other things to consider and you had to think not only about what you wanted but also about what was best for you. Experiencing heartbreaks made you cautious, and vowed that the next man in your life would be someone worthy of your trust. He should be honest and be able to accept your flaws, acknowledge all the things you’ve been through, and appreciate how hard you’re trying. He should respect you, your family, and your friends. He should know how to have fun and make you laugh. He should know the right words to say at the right time; the times when you need someone to talk to; and the moments when you need to be left alone.

Your friends told you your standards were too high, and the man you’re looking for only existed in your mind. But you kept your ground. You knew someone would come along and give you just what you needed and what you were looking for. Besides, it’s not really about your standards. It’s about the fact that most men didn’t want to make the effort.

Until he finally came. This guy came along, and unlike the ones you’ve met in the past, he knew what to do with his life. He had the clarity you rarely see from other people. He knew the things he could do but never talked about them unless necessary, and asked for help about the things he couldn’t and you liked that. He made you laugh even when he was not aware of it and gave you the space you need in order to do the things you wanted to do but stayed by your side just in case you absolutely need help. He read books too and there’s even one book both of you liked. He knew and understood what you’ve been through, acknowledged the boundaries you set, and recognized the things you could do no matter how big or small. He was next to perfect, and you knew deep in your heart that he was The One.

Except that, the people around you didn’t like him. They seemed to loathe him for reasons you never understood. Maybe they envied you and this guy and the relationship you have. Maybe they just couldn’t accept the fact that they were wrong about telling you from the start that men like him don’t exist in real life. Maybe they just didn’t want to believe he was almost perfect. Maybe they wanted to prove you wrong. You never understood any of their reasons. You felt disconnected and you couldn’t even point out where this disconnect began and ended. Until your friends became rabid. They started mocking you for believing such a beautiful lie. They told you it wasn’t possible and just keep things as they were. You didn’t need that guy. You shouldn’t rely on him because it wouldn’t be up to him to make your life better. It always came down to what you were doing for yourself.

But you tell them they were wrong. This guy’s for real and you wanted to be with him. He wasn’t something you just made up in your head. You were not relying on this guy to make your life better. You just needed the right amount of guidance and maybe a little bit of motivation. Maybe someone who’d be able to take you home in his car on evenings when Grab cars were a challenge to book and you don’t drive. Perhaps, someone who’d constantly remind you that you were not alone and that you were doing great, whatever it is that you’re doing.

The guy noticed all of this and told you not to mind them. There really are people like that—people who couldn’t bring themselves to be happy for other people’s achievements. People who couldn’t see the good in you even if it’s dancing in their faces because sadly, their experiences were only composed of pain, loneliness, and despair. The saddest thing was that you could never do anything for them as it would take a long time and your utmost determination to change their mind.

Until your friends transformed into hurtful human beings. The guy felt that it was his fault that you and your friends were falling apart. He didn’t really want to see you torn and broken. He didn’t want you to reach the point where you have to choose between him and your friends. So, he left. But he promised that in another time when things eventually calmed down, you and he could be together. In that time, maybe your friends finally understood what it meant to have someone like him. He wasn’t perfect, but his strengths somehow closed the gap in you made by your weaknesses. He made you believe that life could still be better and that you could be a much better person. He taught you to keep on dreaming, and that, dreams could come true if you work for them. Through this guy, you finally understood what Jerry Maguire meant when he said, you complete me.

It’s okay to cry because he was such a good catch and there was love involved. Your grief is valid because you hoped to wake up each morning to this guy’s pretty face. Your pain is justified, because you fought for him and he did his best to be with you, and yet the outside forces proved to be much stronger than the love you both had for each other.

But always be reminded that it is not the end of the world. Always remember that when a star dies, another one is born. If there is something good that came out of your pain, it’s giving the kind of love you learned to give yourself and to the people you care about. The kind of love that conquers sadness and emptiness. The kind of love that knows no difference. The love that gives even when you get nothing in return. Because maybe, just maybe one day, the guy would come back again and this time, it’ll be for real.

If you know, you know. After all, everything is political.

but love is all I have to give... to you