When I was about 17 and a half years old, I was going through a really emotionally challenging time. I’d just had my heart broken by the first person I ever loved. I was incredibly broken and vulnerable. I was anxiously waiting the results of my Tertiary Entrance Exams for University.
I then met a young man who helped me through that difficult time. He shared the same birthday as me. We also had the same sense of humour. We shared the same values. He too, had recently had his heart broken by his first love.
We became best friends and would spend hours talking on the phone.
For me, he was the first male to restore my faith in men.
But for him, I was much much more than just his best friend.
He believed I was his soul mate and did everything in his power to show me why.
No matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t reciprocate the feelings he had for me.
He was very physically attractive but I wasn’t attracted to him.
I thought he could be the perfect partner but not the perfect partner for me.
I thought he was sweet, kind and caring but I thought he deserved someone that could appreciate all those beautiful qualities he had to offer.
Eventually, our friendship could not continue.
It hurt him too much to know we could only be friends. It hurt him too much to know I just couldn’t give us a chance.
And our friendship faded. I moved on, got married and had a family. He too, is now married.
I see our deep and meaningful friendship as one that will stay with me for life.
I remember the first time he took me shopping and he stood around for hours, watching me try on clothes and taking the time to tell me what he thought of them. I remember the way he looked at me as he drove in his car, the way he smiled because he was so grateful to have me by his side.
I remember when he listened to me cry about my first love. I remember hearing his voice as he tried to calm me as I punched my bedroom door because I was so devastated, so angry, so broken.
I remember when I was awaiting my University results and how anxious I felt about whether I’d gotten into Psychology – and how he did everything he could to alleviate my fears. He told me there was no doubt in his mind that I’d aced my exams.
I remember when I told him how obsessed I was with the Halloween movies and he went looking everywhere online to find me Halloween 5. I remember the devastating note he left tucked inside the cover, telling me how torn up he felt knowing we could never be together.
I remember how broken he was at having to accept we could only ever be friends. I remember him telling me he was going to take a job away from Perth because it was too difficult to be around me and know he couldn’t have me.
But I don’t just remember how our friendship ended, I remember the way he made me feel about myself.
He accepted me for me and just wanted me to be happy. Everything he ever did was with the intention of making me happy.
Last year, he and I spoke for the first time in 12 and a half years. He told me that I’ll always hold a special place in his heart.
He is one of two men who still feel this way about me. That I’m the one that got away.
I am sharing this because I don’t consider myself particularly attractive. I know I’m not destined to be a supermodel. But that’s perfectly fine with me.
However, I really care for people. Since I was a child, all I’ve ever wanted to do is dedicate my life to helping people. I forgive people who doesn’t always deserve it. I show immense empathy and compassion because I know how it feels to be completely and utterly alone.
That is my gift and I’m proud that it is the most beautiful thing about me.
I don’t regret knowing this man. I don’t regret knowing anyone in my life, even if they caused me some level of hurt or pain.
I believe you leave an imprint on everyone’s hearts no matter where you go and they too, on yours.
And no matter whether you drift apart or find each other again, that person lives on inside you forever.
When I have moments of doubt, when I question whether I’m lovable, whether I’m a catch – I remember my husband who says he fell in love with me instantly because of how much I care about others, I remember these two other men whose hearts are forever impacted by the person I am, I remember every loved one who I have ever touched simply by being me.
So, as you go through the rollercoaster of life, remember that you can spend all the money you want buying whatever you want, all the time you want on how you look – but what will matter most above all else, is your ability to impact people’s lives for the better.
Even when I was a confused 17 and a half year old and had no idea what I even wanted in a man, even when I didn’t know who I really was – I had someone show me what it means to love someone, to love unconditionally, and to want to keep those you love safe.
The love he felt for me has helped to pave the way towards my healthy attitudes to relationships. He showed me how love can give you strength, and how you need to truly love yourself before you can truly love others.
Thank you to my former best friend who has taught me that when life gets you down, the only thing that can really lift you up are the beautiful people around you.
When you go through life, you’ll come across different people and each relationship will have some sort of impact on your life. Play your part in making that impact be as positive and meaningful as possible.
Leave footprints wherever you go and be grateful that others leave their own footprints too.
Thuy Le (formerly known as Thuy Yau) is a freelance writer and Youth Work graduate living in Perth, Australia. She loves to share her own personal experiences about overcoming adversity, as she believes that human beings are more capable than they realise. She writes to make a positive difference in the world and to inspire others to learn from themselves and their own experiences. Her writing has been discussed on radio, won writing contests, appeared on The Huffington Post UK and major Australian sites such as news.com.au, SMH, Kidspot and Essential Kids. She is currently writing her first book.
2 thoughts on “Leaving Footprints Wherever You Go”
This is another brave and honest post. It’s all too easy to frame bittersweet relationships, or even those that have damaged us, in a negative way. To instead turn them into a force for good requires strong presence of mind as well as patience and perseverance. Well done for leading the way so that others may follow. Bearing grudges and pointing the finger of blame only damages ourselves, but if we can look beyond all that and see the lesson in each experience, then we can move forward with our lives without these perpetual burdens holding us back.
So so true. I love the way you’ve phrased all that – couldn’t agree more! Thank you for sharing your wise words 🙂