Sometimes, love is proved in letting go

This is probably the most personal post I have ever written.  It’s pretty much the blog equivalent of a chick-flick.  If you’re not interested in namby-pamby feelings and shit like that, then you might not want to read it.

I got an email today, from a good friend, who is also an ex-boyfriend.  Let’s call him…Jamie.  Jamie is not just any ex, but the person with whom I had the most serious and long-term of all my relationships.  The one that did not end through my choice, or through mutual consent, but ended without bitter recriminations or anger for all that.  I decided to let him go, without a fuss, or a fight.  It seemed like a no-brainer to me.  If you love someone, you want them to be happy, and being with me was making Jamie desperately unhappy, so I had to let him go.

I had made him happy at the beginning, but increasingly he was with me out of loyalty.  He was with me because he was a kind person, and he cared for me, but for reasons that were changing.  Once we had been boyfriend and boyfriend, but at some point we had drifted into the roles of Full Time Mentalist and Unpaid Mental Health Support Worker.  It wasn’t fair, and it was grinding him down, turning him grey-faced with worry and fatigue as he tried to hold down a full-time job and hold me up at the same time.  I could see it happening, and I hated it, and hated myself for doing it to him.  It wasn’t fair on Jamie.

So when the chance cropped up for him to go and work in another city, in a place and with a life where there wouldn’t be room for me, I saw that this was the time to do the right thing.  The only thing left that I could give to Jamie was the opportunity to walk away from me without feeling guilty.  I might not have been able to make him happy anymore, but at least I could give him back to himself, and let him make himself happy.  Watching his face as it filled with enthusiasm and passion as he talked about all the things that might happen, then watching it all drain away as he turned to me to wonder how I would cope, what I would do without him – well, it was obvious what needed to be done.

So, I did it.  I was positive and supportive, and gave him all the encouragement I could, because I knew if I didn’t let him believe that I was happy with his choice, his conscience would get the better of him, and he would feel he had to stay.  I kept my real feelings to myself, and sat up late at night listening over and over to the song that seemed to sum it all up:

You’ve been the only thing that’s right

In all I’ve done


Even if you cannot hear my voice

I’ll be right beside you, dear


To think I might not see those eyes

Makes it so hard not to cry,

And as we say our long goodbyes

I nearly do.

Snow Patrol, ‘Run’.

And obviously I did – and do – a good job of keeping my feelings hidden, because the email I got today from Jamie telling me he’s got engaged is full of details about the wonderfully romantic surprise holiday, and the surprise proposal with roses and champagne in a restaurant, and plans for a winter wedding, followed by a honeymoon in the sun, with no suspicion that this might be difficult or regretful news for me.

And I’m glad about that, I really am.  The whole point was to let him live his life, even if I couldn’t live it with him.  Falling in love and getting married is part of that.  I’ve only met his fiancé a couple of times, but he’s kind, and funny, and beautiful – everything you could wish for in your best friend’s boyfriend.  Jamie is probably the nicest person I’ve ever met in my life, and he’s a good friend, and I am thrilled to see his life working out for him, because he deserves it, more than any other person I know.  I told him so when I replied to his email, and I meant every word of it, without a hint of a lie.

I wasn’t still carrying a candle for Jamie.  I wasn’t expecting or wanting us to get back together.  I’m not overcome with desperation at the news that he’s moved irrevocably on, because I already knew he had, and I’ve been expecting this news for more than a year.  But it has hit me harder than I expected, for all of that.  Partly, I think, because it underlines the difference between us, that his life has so spectacularly improved, and mine so spectacularly hasn’t – the time when I was with Jamie was also the last time that I was something more than just a walking psychiatric diagnosis.  And there’s also no doubt that this has stirred up a lot of old memories, old feelings, old ghosts, far more than I thought were still there to be awoken.

What if? is always a pointless question, but sometimes it’s so hard to avoid.  What if I hadn’t been a mentalist, what if our relationship had a chance to persevere, and build, and grow?  Would it have been us getting engaged?  These are pointless questions because I can’t ever know – no-one can tell what would have happened.  But I think there’s a chance that the answer would have been ‘Yes’, and I’m sorry, but no matter how practical I try to be, no matter how hard I try to be sensible, and down-to-earth, and level-headed, I can’t help regretting that.

I predict that my immediate future will involve much alcohol, and many playings of Snow Patrol:

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13 Responses to Sometimes, love is proved in letting go

  1. *hugs*

    I actually feel strangely honoured to read a post like this from you, because you do tend to be very private despite blogging publically.

    I can understand it hitting you, even though you knew it was coming. These things always do. If you genuinely loved someone even when you’ve both moved on there is always something there and when the situation changes you feel it.

    You really did an incredibly hard and loving thing when you let him go and it just shows how lovely you are.

    Look after yourself… and listening to Run many times is no bad thing.


  2. jessa says:

    I’m not really sure what to say. That was breathtaking to read. It was/is so very kind and wonderful and brave and generous of you to let Jamie live his life without you. It must have been very hard to let him go. I can’t even imagine having that sort of relationship, I have no idea what it is like to let one end. Mentalist or not, this story proves you as a wonderful human being.

  3. A prominent local mental health advocate supported her spouse for 9 years of crushing depression… he got better and they separated.

    I think you choice was the better one.

    Your mentalism has taken so much joy and positive life events from you, but you keep hold of the things that make you a beautiful person.

    And I’m also impressed that you could post this.

  4. Kapitano says:

    “being with me was making Jamie desperately unhappy, so I had to let him go.”


    On the one hand it’s the obvious, practical, right and even kind thing to do. On the other, it’s not something I’d expect anyone to do for me.

    Maybe it’s not true that there’s so few good men around because they’re taken. Maybe they’re alone.

    “I wasn’t still carrying a candle for Jamie.”

    I don’t think we ever quite fall out of love with someone we’ve really and truely been in love with – whether it was for ten years, six months or even one week. But as you say, living with these echoes of love isn’t the same thing as carrying a candle for that person.

    Love has a selfish side as well as a selfless one. The drive to keep someone all to yourself, combined with the drive to make them happy. Probably no real way to reconcile the two if they come into conflict.

    I had an amazingly intense three month relationship with a man, seven years ago – then he decided (rightly) that he couldn’t cope and went back to his wife. He wrote a song for me, and I still can’t bring myself to listen to it.

    He’s now found the man of his dreams too. And I’m much happier for him than I am regretful for myself.

    Enjoy your Snow Patrol. And remember, blogging while drunk is a bad idea :-).

  5. aethelreadtheunread says:

    Thanks for the comments.

    intothesystem – thank you for saying nice things. :o)

    listening to Run many times is no bad thing.

    Well, quite. There could be far worse songs to have on repeat.

    jessa – thank you for also saying nice things. :o) Oh, and i’m really not a wonderful human being, i just managed to work out what was the right thing to do in this situation, that’s all.

    almost0surreptitious – thank you for saying nice things. :o)

    I think you choice was the better one.

    Well, it’s horses for courses, i think. I certainly think my decision was the right one given the circumstances Jamie and i were in, but i think different decisions in other circumstances can be just as valid. It does sound like a sad outcome for the people you mention, though.

    Kapitano – thank you for saying nice things. :o)

    On the one hand it’s the obvious, practical, right and even kind thing to do.

    Well, i hope it was the kind thing to do, although i have had doubts since, especially as his romantic life post-me hasn’t always been plain sailing, to put it mildly. But i think it was probably the right thing in the long-run.

    I don’t think we ever quite fall out of love with someone we’ve really and truely been in love with – whether it was for ten years, six months or even one week. But as you say, living with these echoes of love isn’t the same thing as carrying a candle for that person.

    Yes, that’s it exactly, i think. I’m glad you’ve found a way to come to terms with what happened with your ex – it’s strange the way these things work out, isn’t it?

    remember, blogging while drunk is a bad idea :-)

    Luckily, my hand-eye coordination is so bad that i only have to be mildly drunk for what i type to come out as whtyd fjhtgf utbvfjsgf tferfernat… ;o)

  6. gun street girl says:

    I wish I could be half the man you are …

    but my advice? put the snow patrol down and walk away.

    -m (who has spent way more time than I like to think about crying to “set the fire to the third bar” and “chasing cars”)

  7. Pandora says:

    Just wanted to say that I thought this was a really moving post. *hugs*, for the little they are worth.

    Pan x

  8. aethelreadtheunread says:

    Thanks for the comments, gun street girl and pandora, and thank you for saying nice things. I appreciate it. :o)

  9. Shazzer99 says:

    Chick-flicks bore me. Your post, however, did not. It was heartbreakingly honest. I’m sorry you didn’t get a Hollywood-style happy ending. Cheers.

  10. aethelreadtheunread says:

    Hi Shazzer99, thanks for commenting. I’m not sure Hollywood happy endings exist in real life. Or, who knows, maybe mine is still to come… ;o)

  11. Pingback: This Week in Mentalists (123) « Mental Nurse

  12. Eleni Otto says:

    I found your post on a search for “love is proved in the letting go” and it is certainly a story of true love – if just one sided. Plus I just had to read it after that hilarious lead-in. I thought it was a female writing, so as your story went, I was … what… she did not realize he was gay I guess… LOL. And thanks for the Snow Patrol, had never heard of them before. Glad I stopped by. Peace. – Eleni

  13. Eleni Otto says:

    Oh yea and this all started as I was reading a book about “control freaks” (they are everywhere) and the last line of C. Day Lewis’ poem (love is proved in the letting go) was in the book… it’s the antithesis of control… letting children leave home, letting former friends go, etc etc., anyway, your post proves how much you are NOT a control freak. And what a good writer you are. Salute!

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