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.)