Pinay Aguilar* recalls losing herself in the midst of her broken heart, and how an unexpected new love saved her. As told to Jai Lee Dee.
Everyone goes through heartbreak at some point in their lives. It’s painful and it’s real. I had to go through a hard one before I realized what I had been missing. I survived an extraordinary heartbreak and here’s the story of my healing.
He and I were the complete opposite of each other. He was cool, outgoing, and had a great sense of humor while I was headstrong, melancholic and temperamental. However his sincerity, warmth and kindness won me over.
Despite the four year age gap, we started dating in June 2006. I was a sophomore in college and he was a working adult. We made it work in spite of schedule issues and petty jealousies.
We were an unlikely couple yet we were perfect together. All I know is that we were in love and we became inseparable. I knew in my heart that he was the one I was going to spend the rest of my life with. He was my forever.
We were already living together 10 years into our relationship, when a typhoon hit Manila. He told me he would stay at a male co-worker’s place to wait for the storm to pass. I thought nothing of it until I saw a photo of him with a girl online.
A few weeks later, he said he was going to eat out with his officemates. I had an unsettling feeling when he was still not home late in the afternoon. I went to the diner where he should’ve been but the cashier said his group went home hours ago and there was a girl that rode with him on his motorcycle.
I tried to brush it off. He was a friendly guy. I thought maybe he just gave one of his teammates a lift home. But that inkling wouldn’t go away.
It was in November 2015 when he came home from his office team building, acting like he always did. He greeted and kissed me on the cheek. He was tired and went straight to bed. Everything seemed normal but still, something was off.
I had a feeling that something was different.
I decided to follow my instincts. I waited for a few hours until I knew he was asleep. I crept, silently, slowly. I channeled Tom Cruise in every Mission Impossible movie I've ever seen, and I managed to slowly wiggle his phone away from him.
My hands were cold and shaking as I inputted his password with ease. I thought it was a good sign. Surely, if he was hiding something he would change his password, right? I opened his inbox and found nothing out of the ordinary.
I breathed a sigh of relief. I was almost about to give up when the little voice at the back of my mind said don't. I opened his call and text logs and saw a name.
I've seen her name before. She was his officemate. I didn't know much about her but I knew enough that there’s no reason for her name to appear on his phone log mutiple times.
My mind was racing. My fingers grew nimble. I searched his Gallery, Memos and social media apps. I opened every application I could find.
And then I came upon his office chat room.
I was about to open it but I hesitated. I knew that if I rummaged through his messages I would find the proof I needed and our 10-year relationship would be over.
I could’ve walked away and pretended that everything was alright. But I’d be lying to myself.
I opened the app and started to scroll down.
I kept scrolling until I found what I was looking for: evidence. Chat logs so lewd and perverse that I could taste vomit in my mouth as I read on. I read every single sext they sent until something inside of me broke. I also read how most of his officemates knew. These are the people that I have met and considered friends.
I woke him up asking him why. I showed him his phone and chats and I repeated the question. WHY?
He told me the truth. He wasn't happy with me anymore. He still loved me, but he is no longer happy with what we had. And so I made him choose. Me or her.
He moved out a week after that night. He took all of his stuff and left me completely damaged.
At first, I tried to be okay. Friends and family poured out their support. My friends invited me out more. I had late night conversations with my relatives abroad, letting me know how much they loved me and telling me to be brave.
My mom would creep into my bed and hold me as I cried myself to sleep. I knew everyone was trying to be there for me but at that time, I was too lost in my grief to feel any of it.
Eveyone kept saying the same thing, that I needed to move on. But how do you move on from something like that? I trusted him. I loved him.
We have been through so much in the 10 years we were together. We had everything most people search their whole lives for and in a blink of an eye, it was gone.
Losing him didn't just break my heart. It broke my very being. It was as if I didn't know how to live without him. I lost my will and stopped functioning.
I stopped eating and sleeping. I spent days in my bed crying and staring at the wall.
I hated that he chose her over me. I abhorred him for what he did to me and since he was no longer there, I started hating myself.
I despised how pathetic and pitiful I've become, pining over a man who cheated on me and left me for someone else.
When I was with him I became a strong, confident woman and when he left I became an empty shell. My self-loathing intensified day after day until I just couldn’t take it anymore.
One night, my mother found me with a knife and a bleeding wrist.
I don't remember much after that. Only that I ended up in the psychiatric ward. My mother and sister were both crying as the doctor explained how severe my depression was. How I needed to stay in the ward and be isolated from the outside world for my own safety.
As we were saying our goodbyes, my sister pulled me into a hug and said, "I cannot imagine what you are going through. But we cannot save you from this. You have to save yourself. We need you. Come back to us. Please."
I was already doped up with anti-depression medication by then, but her words were crystal clear. It was like a bell, waking me up from a nightmare.
In my despair, I had thought that when he left I no longer had worth and no longer had any use. It was then that I finally realized that I still had people who relied on me, needed me and loved me more than he ever did.
Her words re-lit the fire in me. I had been with him for so long that I'd forgotten who I was outside of our relationship, but I did remember one detail. I was a fighter.
And so I fought.
I fought through my depression until I was well enough to be released from the ward, and I didn't stop there.
I figured the first step was to change my environment. I worked from home so I resigned and got a job in an office setting where I would be surrounded by people.
I gained new experiences and created new friendships.
I got rid of every single thing that reminded me of him. I bought new stuff, re-arranged furniture and made my place look entirely different.
I decided to be healthy again. I lost weight significantly during those months of heartbreak, so I started eating better and got a gym membership that brought my body back from the brink of death.
I knew that stagnation was the enemy. When I wasn’t doing anything, I would remember things that we used to do and the conversations that we used to have, so I made myself busy.
I focused on work, went out with friends, tried different hobbies and just for the heck of it, I even went on dating apps.
This experience made me realize several things.
No matter how lonely you feel, always remember that you are not alone. You have friends and family beside you. They may not exactly know and feel what you are going through, but the important thing is that they love you and they will always be there to catch you when you fall.
You are worthy of the love that you want. It may not come from the person you thought it would, but love doesn't always have to come from a partner. It can come from friends, it can come from family and it can come from yourself.
A breakup doesn't define you, it's what you do about it that does.
You are allowed to grieve. It's normal. But you should not give up. Fight the sadness, fight the pain, fight until you free yourself from the remnants of your past because it's the only way you can move on to your future.
As Albus Dumbledore's famous line goes, "Happiness can be found even in the darkest of times. If one only remembers to turn on the light."
I knew that in order to be completely healed, I didn't just have to forgive myself for almost giving up. I needed to forgive him, too and I did.
I felt like a huge weight had been lifted from my heart. It was as if the gesture released the hate and bitterness that I felt over what happened.
It has been a year and a half since our breakup. I had a few ups and downs but honestly, I have never been better.
Yes, it can get lonely and there are days when I still miss him, but I wouldn't trade what I have now for anything. I have a job that I love, friends and family that support me in everything I do, and lastly, I found the person I have been looking for. A person who is confident, strong and capable of surviving anything. And I found that person in myself.
*The names have been changed to protect the identities of the personalities involved.