"The Year I Grieved and Healed”
Heartbreak is the ball in your stomach and falling to your knees because you cannot hold your own weight. Essentially, it is like the extreme version of disappointment. A watered-down version would feel like being let down and a concentrated and potent version is every fragile piece of you is ripped violently from you and you’re left in emptiness.
Heartache is longing. Heartache is “what-if” and “should have.” It is a mixture of regret and mistakes. A heartache is felt in your chest; your heart is starving but so hungry that it’s too nauseous to eat. Sometimes heartache can lead to heartbreak, and then heartbreak is really amplified.
I think every heartbreak is different. I can’t decide if they get worse or easier to heal from as I get older and add to my collection of Boys Who Couldn’t Love Me The Way I Wanted Them To. I notice I still mourn and take time to mend my heart when someone and I never happened, when we never held hands, when we never had a chance, when I never even got to love them. I only realize I didn’t truly love them until after they have broken my heart, so perhaps that is a gray area of judgment. Take for example my First College Boyfriend: just shy of 4 months of dating, I called it quits the day after he said “I don’t have any more energy to give you” when I pathetically begged for more effort from him. Weirdly, he was in shock and had a meltdown when I broke up with his stoned ass in front of the luminating chapel. I’ve always been too forgiving, but I can’t shake the spite I have towards him. The concoction of disappointment and disgust he came to create in me lies somewhere in the middle of the heartbreak scale. It was new and cold waters that I entered when he spit crude words at me and undermined all the great memories we had had. The mess that we created hurt me in a way I had never known, but this heartbreak was still different than the others.
I have had so many heartbreaks because I love hard, I put all of me into a person. I have always been that way.
Eating my dairy-free mint chip ice cream, I came to the realization that the motions one goes through when being broken up with, are kind of contradictory. In the hurt, we comfort ourselves with pointing at our ex’s flaws and weird habits and even sometimes telling our friends “he wasn’t even cute anyways” and our friends eagerly agree with us. Thinking about my latest heartbreak from Gym Trainer Turned Lover, I remembered how unsettling it was that he would never engage in conversation during meals. I remembered this only because I was sitting on the floor, alone, in quietness. I was going through it; the ice cream was to soothe me from the cry I had in the shower. I caught myself about to continue finding things I didn’t like about him because I would really be the weird one for that. After all, I did love him, even in the heartbreak. When I love a person, I love the entirety of that person, not just their seemingly good traits. Essentially, it doesn’t make sense to point to any part of them as a reason to argue we are better off without them. Instead, we need to realize we are better off without them because really, we now have bigger opportunity for greater things. Not that the guy I was so deeply in love with was dragging me down in any way, no he was pretty successful, but he would never admit it. Rather, I am better off because I firmly believe that if I stop trying to open the door that just closed behind me, I will see the other doors opening up for me ahead.
I felt the familiar heartbreak when my good friend revealed the darkness in his head. We were both so tired of being fragmented pieces of our youth; our spirits shattered by life’s hardest punches. My loneliness drove me to madness because I couldn’t handle the insanity and depression in my head – I flew to Chicago to live with my roommate and her family to save myself and my grades. My friend had no one to fly to and no one to hug. It was November of 2020 and round two of shelter in place was in the motions of being set. He was stuck. And my heart broke because I knew nothing I said could make a difference to his self-hatred, I knew this because I have those moments, too. He was stuck and I couldn’t do anything. I had told myself that exact day during a weird disassociation episode that though I constantly feel like I am an outsider unable to live normally like everyone else, at least I can still create happiness for others. I believed God created me as a vessel to spread His love and light, but with Carlos, though I knew I was the only person he could turn to with his full weight of baggage, I couldn’t hold him tight. I felt deep, deep into my chest, a painful squeeze, listening to his voice memo, the four minute long audio recording ending with “I hope you have a great night” because he, too, just wants happiness for others since he can’t achieve it himself. While I was heartbroken, I was also aching for him and I. Both of us, vessels of love and light, but unable to reap from that supply. I ached to not be in my head and to be free of this body and life that is filled with harmful stimulants and disappointments. He ached to also be free of it all and to know happiness. I don’t think he knew happiness, or at least couldn’t remember. Aching for something you don’t know drives one insane. Insanity fuels self-hatred and self-hatred, well, sucks any drop of joy from our human experience.
Even when we want to be free of a relationship, we don’t want to see the other do better when we’re gone. We don’t want to share our lives with this person anymore, we want to be free of their lives, and yet we have this secret little desire that they will be in shambles when we leave. Is it because we want them to be as heartbroken about losing us as we are heartbroken that it did not work the way we wanted the relationship to work? Or is it because we want to feel like we were needed and important to that person? I had craved freedom when I left First College Boyfriend because he had taken me for granted over and over again. I asked him to help me make it work, I asked for effort, but he couldn’t meet me in the middle, all he had to say was “I don’t have any more energy to give you.” That sentence shattered me. I felt unimportant, so I left. Seeing him finally let go of me and date someone else, infuriated me. How could someone that begged to get back together with me, that said he wanted to marry me and have a family with me, go the extra mile for another girl? It was a weird battle of ego and heart when I saw them exchanging “I love you’s” in the comments of his Instagram post. It is embarrassing to reveal that I tried to find things about him and his new girlfriend to create more hate and disgust inside me. I already knew I hated his face after he showed me his true colors, but I went as far as to find things to hate about a girl I didn’t know; and yet, I couldn’t. Because the truth is, it wasn’t about her being better than me or worse than me, the uncomfortable feeling in my stomach and throat when I saw them cuddling on the beach wasn’t jealousy or regret. It was that same feeling of being unwanted. I was unhappy to see him happy with someone else after I left him because I still didn’t matter to him after he lost me. This is a problem with my ego, but also my heart. It hurts to not feel important to someone that was a long-time player in your life. I remind myself today that I left for that reason and it is insanity to have expected him to care about me after I left. I tried to make him care, and that was a mistake in itself. I left because I couldn’t teach him to love me the way I should be loved and therefore, he couldn’t have loved me after I left. Him and I were not going to work because I tried and he didn’t want to. He wasn’t going to want me after I left so why trip about his new storyline without me? Easier said than done, but seriously, looking back at that closed door will stop you from walking into the open door in front of you.
It’s comfortable staying in my heartbrokenness. It is easy to reminisce about how in love you were. It is my favorite past time, remembering Gym Trainer Turned Lover’s laugh and the look of concentration he got when he tried a new rhythm on the drums and him outside the bathroom door waiting for me to come out and tell him why I was crying in the shower. I couldn’t ever tell him in person that he broke my heart because I didn’t want to blame him. I know he sucks, and I always agree with my friends when they yell out in anger “Alex sucks!” but even when I say “I hate Alex” I don’t actually hold a morsel of hate for him. I hate that it didn’t work out and I hate that I met him and I hate how his family held longer conversations with me than he ever did and I hate that I needed him long after our chapter closed but I don’t hate him.
I picked up oil paints yesterday and filled empty spaces of black with color. I use black paper for oil painting, it is more vivid that way.
Since I have last written, I have been in therapy still talking about Alex. Except for those 8 weeks where I talked about my new boyfriend that didn’t ever do anything and it drove me crazy. I have one last session left with my therapist today. The last session of a year and a half of slowly releasing all I have had to keep to myself, the ink of my traumas bled and bled and I have learned they never truly stop running down the legs of the tables where I write, that the ink will stain that table and I will never not remember those black pains. Alex being one of those.
I have only had a few gulps of caffeine as I have sat here for 20 minutes but my hands tremble as I begin to think about how I have left him behind now. I have chosen to leave behind his quiet, torturous, and addictive hugs. Those embraces were never mine. I was the placeholder, intentionally though. He didn’t truly love me. Maybe he didn’t know it yet when he said he did, but in his heart he loved needing me. He was addicted to me as I was to him. Lust never wore off really, what wore off was the thrill of his immorality. When we made it through our trials, he saw no reward in keeping me after everything. Which is kind of tragic, but it was magical fate. Now my new story begins. He’s gone and I can walk away from the pollen of memories that linger in our eyes and nostrils from when we once were one.
When I first discovered the initials “M.L” next to a heart in his Instagram bio, my chest tightened, and my throat flared up with anger and betrayal. He never finished the sentence I heard from him on a biweekly basis when it was him and I. He would say “I don’t want a relationship right now” but that wasn’t the case after all. He didn’t want a relationship right now with me. I’ll admit, the following two weeks after finding “M.L”, I was obsessed with him and her. I had to know the full story, I had to know why her and not me. After listening to Olivia Rodrigo’s album SOUR for a straight week, and then weaning off by only listening to “traitor” and “enough for you” I released the hurt of feeling like I couldn’t be loved by anyone. The truth is that I was more than enough for Alex, but 20-year-old guys don’t want fulfillment, they want to something to chase.
It is easy to melt into someone else and brush the heavy questions that come in your 20s under the bed and just have really great sex instead. The easiness sparks fireworks of dopamine. Much harder to find dopamine when you’re 20 years old, diagnosed with bipolar disorder II, and walking straight into the blackness of nothingness. With Alex, I just held his hand and followed where he went because he would know which way to go. And even if he got it wrong, I’d be with him, I wouldn’t be alone in the dark.
I read something on Twitter that said I am not afraid of new love, I am afraid of old pain. Scars no matter how old, throb when I undress my soul for another. Old insecurities bubble up in secret when I daydream about a new romance. I twist my hoodie strings anxiously and I stay up late waiting for a text that won’t come and I run on the treadmill every day to exhaust my jitters.
One day I’d like to be so sure of myself I don’t once concern myself if a new love interest likes me back. One day I’ll assume they’ve fallen in love at my first sight and I’ll spend time with them investigating if I want to bring them home to my cat.