To my best friend,

I was there when you first got together. I sat wide-eyed as I listened to you recall all the ‘firsts’ that you experienced with him. I was excited for you. We all were. 

But then all those exciting firsts turned into stories you’d tell with tears in your eyes.

I was there for the breakup, too. I applauded you, because it was time that you put yourself first. For too long, you believed his empty promises. You were naive and had hopes that he would fulfil the expectations that you set for him. It must have hurt to realise that he would never give you the devotion that you deserve.

I wiped your tears along the way. I was even there to rip your phone away when you wanted to get back together with him. I’ve been through all of it with you because that’s what best friends do. And, as your best friend, I was preparing to be with you on your first newly single Valentine’s Day.

The girls and I planned it out weeks in advance. You needed to be distracted, so we were going to stay out all night, then throw a sleepover party and eat french toast in the morning. We would strictly listen to pop anthems in our Uber to the bar, and we would avoid all sappy breakup songs — with the exception of “All Too Well (Taylor’s Version),” which you deserve to belt, since it hits so close to home for you. 

Most importantly, we would not mention his name. We wouldn’t even mention names that started with the same letter as his.

If I’m being honest, we were scared of how you’d react on the holiday. Being surrounded by life-sized teddy bears, brightly coloured heart decorations, and an unhealthy amount of chocolate is a lot to absorb when you’re in a fragile state. These innocent traditions can become ruthless bullets when moving on from an ex-boyfriend. I, being an overprotective friend, wanted to shield you from that.

But as February 14 has approached, I’ve noticed that you’re not fragile anymore. On the contrary, you’re stronger than you’ve ever been.

I first noticed you were healing when you texted in our group chat: “Let’s go to British Columbia.” At that moment, we were clueless as to what was happening. But it didn’t take a lot of convincing to get us on board. 

Eventually, you explained your change in perspective. You were ready to live your life to its full potential. You wanted adventure. You wanted to create new stories to hold close on the days when healing would be harder. You wanted to make new memories that would transform your old, hurtful ones into a beautiful learning experience. Mere weeks later, and we’ve booked flights and hotels. We’ve created a playlist of songs to karaoke to in a new province, instead of during a broken-hearted Uber ride.

I can see the signs of healing; you have slowly transitioned from being unable to get out of bed in the morning to waking up early every day to exercise. You have shifted from leaving events early because you were sad to staying out past midnight at the student bar every Thursday. You used to worry about what he was doing and who he was spending time with — now, you don’t even flinch at the sound of his name.

I want to say you did a total 180, that’s a lie. It’s been a beautiful 360. 

You were so young when you first started dating him. Our brains hadn’t even fully developed yet, and a heartache is a lot of trauma when your mind is still forming. It’s clear to me that you aren’t the same 16-year-old that you were when you entered the relationship. You’re not the same 19-year-old that you were when you broke up with him, either. I’m glad he doesn’t know the new you — he doesn’t deserve to. 

I’ve noticed that you love yourself more than you did before. You seem happier and more confident. Your smile and presence glows. 

You’ve also become more goal-oriented. Before the breakup, you used to think about how your life could become better — now, you’re on a clear path to making it better. You’re pursuing a teaching degree, and you’re making sure you finish your homework early so you can go out at night. You’re working a full-time job, yet you still have the time to be the most supportive friend. 

It’s been fulfilling to watch you grow over the course of your breakup. On your good days, I’ve loved cheering you on. On your bad days, I’ve loved helping you get back on your feet.

Just as I was there for you when you were aching, I’m still here for you now. 

Cheers to you and to your first single Valentine’s Day.