I’ve been struggling with my breakup for over a year now.

When it first happened, it was right before the holidays (Thanksgiving, my birthday, Christmas). It was a world of pain, but then I fell numb. I magically didn’t feel the pain that I thought would last a lifetime. One year later – same time, same place (I’m back home from Arizona for winter break) – I can feel everything. All the heartache, all the nostalgia, all the emotions. Everything. I was definitely in my numb stage of denial last year.

One of the things I learned was that people constantly come and go within your lifetime. There are special people who become apart of your life and will disappear from it at one point or another. I no longer felt bitter about friendships that unnecessarily faded away. I grew to wholeheartedly accept that concept sometime in my mid-twenties, but it was extremely difficult for me when I finally also had to apply that to my 9 year (four months away from 10 year) relationship.

This was someone I had grown up with. We raised each other up from our awkward high school days, our blossoming college days, and our adulthood post-grad. We had countless obstacles that were meant to tear us apart, but time and time again, we chose each other and fought to stay together. We developed a friendship and a love that still left butterflies in my stomach as if we were on our first date. I gave him a decade’s worth of patience, nurturing, and love.

This past year was a lot of up and downs for us. We gravitated back to each other and tried to make it work. In September, we talked about very heavy and important topics. He told me he needed time to think before giving me an appropriate response. A month passed by, and I received nothing. I had to leave to Arizona for my externship and he knew that. So, I reached out to him, desperately searching for an answer. My message was received in silence. I tried, again, and again. Three months of desperately searching for answer, for closure, and I could only receive silence.

This year was the first year I did not spend my birthday with him, and the second year I did not spend Christmas with him. I spent Christmas crying, thinking about everything that I had loved and missed. Late at night, I see a Christmas photo of him, a cute couple photo, with a girl who looks very familiar to me, and this answers all of my questions.

It’s one of those photos that you wish you didn’t see but are also grateful you did. It let me know that he is not worth my time even though I will spend a long time in heartache. It is much harder getting over someone you love and saw so much potential in. It’s easier – or so I hope – getting over someone you realize was heartless and had no courage to be upfront with you.

I felt this type of heartbreak when I was 16. At 28 I am a fully-grown woman and I still feel like a child sobbing in bed. Some things change, and some things don’t. Merry Christmas…