Nothing quite compares to the slow, aching burn of a heartbreak. The reasons we walk away from a relationship may vary. But that feeling -that raw, vulnerable hurt you think might never leave- that is something we have all have in common.
Human relationships are messy. We’re already immensely complex on our own. Add another person into the mix and things can grow even more muddled.
When a relationship ends, we don’t ever truly leave on a clean break. Each person walks away with fragments of the other buried deep into the make up of their being. Even long after things end, traces of that person may still remain. Your ex lingers in the music they shared, the corner stores you frequented together and the Youtube videos you used to laugh at together. When the breakup is still fresh, getting used to those residual memory can be excruciating.
But every single time… we move on. We pack up the lessons they taught us and pave the way to a new normal. No matter how hard it feels in the beginning of a breakup there’s always the inevitable day when that song they showed you doesn’t sting so much anymore.
When I wrote Letters to my Exes, I explored the imprint my past relationships left on me. Writing it all out was a beautifully cathartic experience. Each letter helped me pinpoint what my exes left behind— the fragments I still hold on to. I found that each person I dated, even if our time together was brief, deeply affected me. And I’m actually quite grateful for all the lessons they left behind.
With the success of my letter writing experience, I figured I would see if anyone in my circles would be willing to submit a letter to their past flames. What I received deeply moved me. The vulnerability and honesty in these letters is beautiful. Breakups happen. Heartbreaks can wreck us. But if these letters teach us anything, it’s that we can always reflect and rebuild.
Trigger Warning: some letters discuss abusive behavior and rape.
Thank you so much to those who sent in a letter! And to anyone hurting over a breakup, remember the pain won’t last. One day it might even transform into something beautiful.
P.S. even if it’s not in a public forum, write that letter. Trust me, it can be so healing.