My mom has repeatedly told me, throughout all of my relationships when tensions arose, that little phrase “if you love them, let them go. If they come back, they’re yours. If they don’t, they were never truly yours to begin with.” And while the words are wise and true, they’re the hardest to swallow.

I was given a short amount of time with someone who has definitely changed my life for the better. I’m joining a church again, working out, eating well, rebuilding friendships. I don’t think I’ve ever been in any relationships, long or short, serious or causal, that has given me what this relationship did.

Moving to Chicago was a huge decision. When I met this person, I had already decided to move but was deciding between two job options. I was so excited, but so afraid. Part of me still had this delusion about rejoining with my college boyfriend when I got up here, even though that hadn’t been an option in several months. I loved that person, set them free, and they didn’t return. One of life’s many hard lessons.

This person is like my twin. We even joked about that. We’re so similar. (I won’t use past tense, and you’ll see why later.) Suddenly I was excited about something else when I moved to Chicago—finally meeting this person in real life, rather than through text. Budding flirtation turned into a genuine friendship, one that I valued deeply, and that still holds value to me. This was my first mistake. Fresh off a heartbreak, I was only about 80% complete in terms of figuring out who I was, and having faith in myself being alone. I’m not comfortable with being alone. I had been alone for almost a year and it hurt so badly.

I mentioned before that I found him, and how I loved the rapport we developed. He was and is everything I had ever hoped and prayed for in a partner. But when had time against us. And that loomed above us. Over him, it was a cloud of doubt. Over me, it was a cloud of panic. I pushed our relationship, despite him telling me very early on that he needed this to move slowly. All I could think about was that deadline of June, when he would be leaving Chicago. I felt like we had to hit a certain milestone in order for distance to be an option. And so I pushed and pushed. And with every push I made, that little cloud of doubt above him grew. I pushed him out of my life.

He wasn’t ready, and neither was I, for us. When it ended, I felt like something was missing from me. I still feel that. I have dreams about us, and wake up feeling even more hollow and empty and alone. He felt he wasn’t what I needed—I was ready for a relationship, and he wasn’t. But the more I’ve thought about it, and talked about it with friends and my mom, he was what I needed. He made Chicago feel like home. I grew more and more confident in myself and my new city because of him. And I needed that.

And so now, I’ve let him go with the hope that one day, he’ll come back if it’s meant to be. Typing that out was heart wrenching, trust me. But I sincerely hope that one day, he’ll miss me, and he’ll be ready. And hopefully next time, I’ll be 100% updated and ready.