Just Get Through

At first you told yourself that all you had to do was get through Christmas, your birthday, just get through summer, and you’ll be fine. But your thesis was about him, so you told yourself, you’re only thinking of him because of your thesis; when you finish it, you’ll be fine. And then it was, once you get to Greece for summer, you’ll be fine. And then you came back, and by then you were saying, one year, just one year; after December 16th you’ll be fine. You thought twelve months was ample time to get used to not having someone. That was naïve.

You’ve become better at taking care of yourself. When you’re feeling down, you’re extra kind. You take as many showers as you need to feel clean. You light incense. You stroke your own hair. You remind yourself that you are a decent human being. You put on red lipstick. You make yourself pretty on the outside, and usually the inside follows. But some days, you still drink in the afternoon. You still make yourself smoke to avoid eating. You still tell yourself again and again, like a vicious refrain, that he just didn’t love you enough (even if it might not be true).

You have a hard time letting go of things. You have boxes of memorabilia—tickets, notes, corks, Mentos wrappers. You have hundreds of journals. You sift through memories, cutting yourself on them again and again.

The truth is you don’t think you get over anything at all. You just let time work its magic, let life fill you up with other things, other friends and loves and experiences until there is more of them than what hurts. The truth is that you are not over him. You have just become better at forgetting to remember him.

This morning she said, “It’s just that other people are better at faking it,” and you wonder if it’s true, if other people are just as overwhelmed by loss and are just really good at not letting it spill over.

It’s something you hate and love about myself, this capacity to love. To be so familiar with heartbreak that it doesn’t deter you from loving. You love so many people and have so many people that love you. More than your share. More than him, you suspect. More than a lot of people. But somehow it is you that feels alone, you that lugs around this big bag of loss. You don’t love people less when they hurt you. You might decide not to keep them around but you never stop loving them. This is a gift, you suppose. Not everyone can love unconditionally.

Sometimes you think that maybe you’re stuck because he hasn’t let go of you either. But the truth is that some things are always unfinished. Endings don’t always sever. This whole year has been eclipsed by your energies—his and yours—ripping apart. Violent, like two dogs tearing a cat in two. You are both dogs in this situation, both aggressive with ego and fear. Sometimes you can ache for answers so badly that the unfairness of it has you clinging to hope. This can’t be how it ends. But it is. But it was.

And it doesn’t matter that you’ve changed for the better, that this break-up turned you inside out in the most remarkable way. That it taught you to love yourself. That it taught you to rely on yourself first and then on others. That it created the space for wonderful women to come into your life. It doesn’t matter that he didn’t make you happy or that you know very well he can’t be the man you need. It doesn’t matter that he is so good at breaking your heart, at finding new ways to do it, even a year later. It doesn’t matter that you value yourself now and are very aware of how much more you deserve. You can be over someone and still love them. You can move on and still love them. You can not want someone back and still love them. They can tell you that that they have nothing to say to you that they can’t be friends with you that they haven’t been in love with you for a long time (‘I thought you knew that’) and you can still love them.

In your stronger moments, you are impressed with your heart. Your vulnerable, battered, stubborn heart that loves so deeply it takes years to heal. And one day you will be over him. Just get through Christmas, your birthday, just get through summer, and you’ll be fine. (But you suspect you’ll always love him.)

Never Like a Question Mark

When he says he’s been thinking about it for the past two weeks, I understand the seeds of my recent insomnia. It doesn’t matter how far our eyes blow like leaves in the wind, how our arms branch out for others, whose kisses we let pollinate our lips, because my roots are still entwined with his.

I love him like the point where the ocean meets the horizon. God, I don’t know why, but I love him in such an unflinching way. Without fireworks or roller-coasters. No fairy-floss expectations or prize-winning promises. There are popcorn fights and elephantine fears, but no ring-master gestures or somersaulting consistency.

I love him quietly. The way rain kisses a window. Like a lost ribbon in the breeze. The way tea keeps spinning after the spoon. I love him opaquely, the way I love ice-cream or avocados. I love him like a full-stop (sometimes like an exclamation point, but never like a question mark).

God, I don’t know why, but I love him. Even though it’s been 109 days. Even though he’s broken my heart twice. Even if he doesn’t love me anymore. I love his stupid, noble soul and I’m scared of how long it will take me until I don’t.

 

Stage 5: Acceptance

“Grief is the best way to keep a lost someone close to you.”

When he said that, I found a puzzle piece. We were sitting on my matchbox balcony, sharing a starry space, looking at each other like we sparkled. For weeks I had been piling padding around my heart, gliding over the gap M has left by leaving. In a letter, M said, “Unlike you, I’m not trying to forget. At least, not yet. I keep the memory of you warm, worn, and beautiful.” And maybe he’s been soaking in his grief because that’s his way of not letting go of me completely just yet.

I have been running through the grief as if it were a bucket of water. Getting wet, but not soaked. Whenever I found it in my hands, I unclenched my fists to drop it, as if the drops of water were actually hot coal. I thought I was refusing to hold on because I was so intent on moving forward.

And to a certain extent, that’s true. I am fighting so hard to let go. I finally have myself back and I don’t want anything to drag me away from that. But also because, what else can you do?

But, drop by drop, the grief has cornered me. And while I don’t feel it constantly, there are times when it punches me so hard I literally cannot breathe. I’m still trying to evade it, but god, it takes up so much energy. It’s tiring. And it’s a faux way to let go. You cannot let go of something until you have a grip on it. 

I have been refusing to admit that I am heartbroken. Not because I worry I am not strong enough to deal with it–I don’t doubt my resilience anymore–but out of hope. Because once a heart is broken, it morphs. And I can feel it in my gut that my revised heart will not be able to love him again should he ever come back to me. I have avoiding the grief just in case I don’t have to feel it. 

It’s been almost two months and yes, I’m still in love with him. But I can imagine a future where I’m not, even though I know I’ll suffer first. And yes, we feel unfinished, but maybe that’s only because I was the one who wasn’t ready to let go. I don’t know if that matters.

Somehow, this experience still makes me feel good. Because, yes for the last four years, it’s been one thing after another; life hasn’t let me rest. But I’m not wondering why anymore. This is what life is given me and all I can do it accept it and keep walking. Life doesn’t owe us a damn thing. There is no quota for suffering. Or joy. It is what it is. And sometimes it’s challenging for longer than we’d prefer.

So, that’s that. I am heartbroken. But the rest of life is beautiful and so full of love. And, you know, I’m looking forward to the new heart. I think it suits me already.

hold on tightly

“you kiss just like I thought you would”

you kiss like europeans, this is what you whisper as you brush lips like snowflakes on a balcony on a friday summer night with a cool breeze kicking round your bodies, no space between your limbs, all tangled up and tight. you talk to him, to the sky, and he stands behind you, murmuring compliments into your ear. later, on the carpet, the thrusting tongues, skin gliding over skin, knees rubburnt, all the while, european, european, european, the sensuality, the intimacy, the romanticism, the familiarity. afterwards, you fall asleep and he asks if you mind if he goes home and you don’t, you’re drunk and you’re tired and you like him but not in a bow-tie way but then waiting for the taxi, suddenly, your hands rip into each other’s bodies, exploring, exploring, exploring, and it’s beautiful, this one night’s connection, how his lips sought out your scars in the dark. how, you chanted someone else’s name at first but then that him dissolved and it was just you and this boy who asks you if it’s okay to come. at the end you didn’t even want to message the other him to say I thought of you the whole time, and not just because it turns out that isn’t true. you pass out on the carpet, naked, dreaming in shades of tequila and contentment. bring on the boys. bring them on, bring them on. gratitude for the gentle, awkward boy that heals just because he’s him and he’s there. gratitude for the gentle boys that healed you before. life is magnificent.

The Broken Woman Ifestus

 

  1. Remember that you were born in the sky: you don’t have veins, you have constellations; you don’t have blood, you have moonshine; you don’t have lungs, you have clouds; you don’t have a brain, you have a nebula; you don’t have a heart, you have an aurora.
  2. Study The Universe. Get a Spinster of Hearts. Get a Mistress in Compassion and Dignity.
  3. Your brain is overworked and underpaid, and your heart is a fucked up little rainbow punching bag. But your gut is your guru and you should shut up and listen because it knows even more than your earth mother.
  4. Just because some people are simple as arithmetic, doesn’t mean you should pretend you’re not more like chaos theory.
  5. Stop forgetting that you are loved. Keep trying to love yourself; you’ll get there one day.
  6. THERE IS NO NEED TO BE FUCKING AGGRESSIVE. You do not need to bark to be heard. Instead, be the sound that leaves make in the wind. Only poets will hear you. This is okay.
  7. When your heart breaks, don’t cut yourself on the pieces. Use them to make a stained-glass collage of your acquired compassion, of your courage, of your capacity for pain.
  8. Do not be afraid to break. Never stop breaking. The cracks are how the light shines through.
  9. Let go of the need to know. You will know when it’s time to know. Never before.
  10. Smoke if you got ‘em. Let go if you don’t.
  11. Pro tip for life: do epic shit and be fucking kind. The End.