Warning: Tears ahead

By Laura Cohen
Updated March 25, 2016 11:40 AM
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Yes, Directioners, it’s been a year already.

Today marks the anniversary of the fateful day Zayn Malik left One Direction, and we’re still asking ourselves: Where do broken hearts go?

In the 12 months since Zayn has gone solo (and released his new album!), he’s actually had a lot to say about the boys (and even recently revealed which one he still keeps in touch with).

Before reading on, we caution: How many tissues do you have access to right now?

“My life with One Direction has been more than I could ever have imagined. But, after five years, I feel like it is now the right time for me to leave the band. I’d like to apologize to the fans if I’ve let anyone down, but I have to do what feels right in my heart. I am leaving because I want to be a normal 22-year-old who is able to relax and have some private time out of the spotlight.” – on Facebook, March 2015

“I know I have four friends for life in Louis, Liam, Harry and Niall. I know they will continue to be the best band in the world.” – on Facebook, March 2015

“It is crazy and wild and a bit mad. But at the same time, I’ve never felt more in control in my life. And I feel like I’m doing what’s right – right by myself and right by the boys, so I feel good.” – to The Sun, March 2015

“My band has been really supportive. They’ve been cool about it. And they understand that, you know, it’s not real to me anymore.” – to The Sun, March 2015

“I did try to do something that I wasn’t happy doing for a while, for the sake of other people’s happiness.” – to The Sun, March 2015

“I feel like I’ve let the fans down, but I can’t do this anymore. It’s not that I’ve turned my back on them or anything, it’s just that I just can’t do that anymore because it’s not the real me.” – to The Sun, March 2015

“Proud of my boys the new single is sick. Big love. ? x.” – on Twitter, August 2015

“There was never any room for me to experiment creatively in the band.” – to The Fader, December 2015

“If I would sing a hook or a verse slightly R&B, or slightly myself, it would always be recorded 50 times until there was a straight version that was pop, generic as f—, so they could use that version. Whenever I would suggest something, it was like it didn’t fit us.” – to The Fader, December 2015

“There was just a general conception that the management already had of what they want for the band, and I just wasn’t convinced with what we were selling. I wasn’t 100 percent behind the music. It wasn’t me. It was music that was already given to us, and we were told this is what is going to sell to these people. As much as we were the biggest, most famous boy band in the world, it felt weird. We were told to be happy about something that we weren’t happy about.” – to The Fader, December 2015

“The truth of it is, you can think one thing about a situation, and the total opposite can happen. I had every intention of remaining friends with everybody, but I guess certain phone numbers have changed, and I haven’t received calls from a lot of people. I’ve reached out to a few of them and not got a reply. Certain people have pride issues, but it’s stuff you overcome in time.” – to Billboard, January 2016

“[I gained] status. The capability to restrain certain things I would want to do. I also learned it’s good to keep friends. Because you don’t know when you’re going to make new ones, so you should probably just keep the old ones.” – to Billboard, January 2016

“We weren’t allowed to say certain things, or word [lyrics] the way we would want to. I’d sit and wonder, ‘If the fans knew how it worked, what would they think?’ My argument was: People are more intelligent than that. They want to hear what’s real, so why don’t we write some stuff that we’re actually going through?” – to Billboard, January 2016

“I’ll come down here and record maybe seven songs a night. That’s because I’m enjoying what I’m doing. I’m not censoring myself anymore, so I’m not tired. I love it.” – to Billboard, January 2016

“Nah … I’ll be honest. I thought the first single was quite cool. I heard the second single and yeah, I didn’t buy [their] album.” – to Billboard, January 2016

“I genuinely enjoyed [the band] and did whatever I could to be myself within that, but it’s just not where I sit as a musician.” – to Billboard, January 2016

“The other boys’ taste was generally indie rock. It’s good music, but I don’t f— with it. That was never cool where I was from.” – to Billboard, January 2016

“There are no sides to pick … We’re not going head-to-head.” – to Billboard, January 2016

“The truth is I haven’t spoken to any of the boys at all really. I spoke to Liam a bit, and that’s just the way it is. I did try to reach out to a couple of people and they didn’t get back to me, but then publicly, when they were asked questions about it, said that they’d spoken to me and that we were friends. But that’s not the case. I tried to reach out and be their friend, but they haven’t even replied to any of my calls or texts.” – to L’Uomo Vogue, January 2016

“I just want this album to be about me and me standing on my own two feet. I’ve sung with four other voices for over four years now, so I want to hear myself, alone for once.” – to L’Uomo Vogue, January 2016

“Now that I can really be myself and make music that feels honest to me, it doesn’t feel like work. It really is relaxing to me. When I decided to leave, it wasn’t a big build up it had always been underlying. I never felt like I belonged in the group. I was just doing it because at the time, I felt like it was the right place for me to be.” – toL’Uomo Vogue, January 2016

“I think I always wanted to go, from the first year, really. I never really wanted to be there in the band. I just gave it a go because it was there at the time.” – to Beats 1 Radio, January 2016

“When I realized the direction we were going in, mind the pun, with the music, I instantly realized it wasn’t for me because I couldn’t put any input in.” – to Beats 1 Radio, January 2016

“I had to start thinking about myself. I was always writing anyway even when I was in the band … I always knew.” – to Beats 1 Radio, January 2016

“I think the boys kind of knew – in terms of the music – that wasn’t my cup of tea. They obviously didn’t want me to leave, but they couldn’t talk me out of it at that point. I’d already made my mind up.” – to Beats 1 Radio, January 2016

“It was about denying the authenticity of who I was, and what I enjoyed about music, and why I got into it … It was one of the things that wasn’t going to go away, so I had to go away.” – to Complex, March 2016

“There were certain restrictions in terms of the way that we could come outside of that young teen boy look Mainly my beard, honestly. I wasn’t allowed to keep it. Eventually, when I got older, I rebelled against it and decided to keep it anyway. That was just because I looked older than the rest of them. That’s one of the things that is now quite cool. I get to keep my beard. I also wanted to dye my hair when I was in the band, but I wasn’t allowed to.” – to Complex, March 2016

“No one can ever say I was ungrateful, even though it sort of comes across that way when I mention that I was frustrated with the band. With the music that I’m doing now, I get to express myself, and that creative tension is gone.” – to Complex, March 2016

“In terms of me being described as the mysterious one, that was put on me as a stigma because I didn’t get the chance to speak as much. The other boys’ personalities were much more forward. They would answer the questions. I would let that happen because, like I said, I didn’t have any creative input there. I didn’t feel like I was going to say anything about it anyway. Now I get to talk about what I’m passionate about it’s nice to have the chance to speak.” – to Complex, March 2016

“I’m still probably the closest to Liam [Payne]. We talk on the phone He congratulated me on my single. Which was nice. I congratulated him on his Brit Award It was a good chat. We hadn’t met in a long time, so we want to meet up.” – to NME, March 2016

“I tried to have contact [with the other band members], but nobody’s reached out. So … whatever.” – to NME, March 2016

“You can be in the eye of it if you choose to be. Or you can let it overwhelm you … See, I’ve kept a little bit of my sanity. I understand how the media works. Journos gotta earn their money. Paps have got to earn their money.” – to NME, March 2016