I was on my way home on a Wednesday afternoon, with the wind whipping through my car windows and the Lumineers beige-colored III album softly pumping through my speakers. Sounds harmless enough, but it was within this deceivingly comfortable moment that I began to reminisce about the summer of my senior year, and the boy who left me behind. Smiles to tears, in two minutes flat. to be clear, this isn't an advice piece, I can't give steps on how to get over an ex, and I can't give magic advice that will make things better. All I can do is give a look into where I'm at, tell the truth, and hope someone can hopefully find solace in my experience.
To give a little background, I dated a boy for the entirety of my senior year of high school, up into college until Thanksgiving break of last year. I think he was my first great love, in the sense that for the first time in my life, there was someone I cared about more than what felt like life itself at the time. I will spare the gory details, but the foundations of our relationship began to crumble when the leaves started falling from the trees, and by the time they were on the ground, so was I, and our relationship was no more. He called me on a freezing Tuesday night to tell me he had found someones else, in two weeks of what was supposed to be a break. In one week, all contact was shut off and I was left to grieve our near two-year-long relationship. As one might assume, it destroyed me. I spent days on end in my room, barely eating, sobbing through my homework and wailing to my mom and sister on the phone. I cried to my best friend, I cried to people I barely knew. I went to class, exhausted and hopeless, and used the time to sit and dissect our last interaction, the words he said and the way he sounded. I thought about the last time we held hands and the last time I rode in the passenger seat of his car on the way to his mom's. I thought about what his new girlfriend must've been like, what she looked like and sounded like, what she had that I lacked, what made him choose her over me. I felt hollowed out and empty, and I prayed every night, begging for something to take away all the feeling in my body, begging to be able to sleep again. Being transparent, it was the worst time of my life.
The months since last November have passed slowly, arduously-giving me ample time to quietly exist. In the beginning, I existed only in intense, grievous pain. I was a dandelion in a field, standing upright for the in-betweens, but one strong gush of wind and I was into a million pieces, floating away on the breeze and out of reach. As the winter months turned warm, and life transitioned into the spring, existing wasn't as hard. Believe me, I still broke out into uncontrollable panic attacks and tears, the episodes were just fewer and farther between. As I began to re-figure out who I was, I flipped back and forth for what felt like an eternity between feeling like a badass, empowered woman, and a dejected loner whose last two years had been a total waste. I was now a four o'clock flower, open and present during the day, but completely closed off and isolated at night. Hiding in my night-time induced sadness and denying the company of friends when I needed it most. By the time summer rolled around, I was different. I wasn't back to my naive, pre-relationship, self, but he no longer occupied every waking moment of my thoughts, and I was back to pursuing things I enjoyed without feeling wildly guilty.
This brings us to today, when I burst into tears listening to a song that had nothing to do with him, driving down a street he had never been on in a city he never knew. It makes you wonder if you'll ever be ok, if you'll ever recover from the pain they caused, or if you'll have to carry the weight of the baggage on your shoulders forever. My tears in the car scared me. I felt like everything I had worked so hard for: the months of self-affirmation, the joys I had found and fostered in friends and organizations, and the identity I had found was in serious jeopardy. After some deliberation, however, I remembered some crucial facts about my life right now. To start, I am wildly free. Sometimes I find comfort in alone time, like a lone orchid, standing tall and strong and choosing to take time for myself because I know that I need it. Other times I radiate happiness and love for the people around me like a vibrant, egg-yolk-yellow sunflower and love nothing more than to sit and soak up the positive, extroverted energy life provides. Other times I am sad and lonely, feeling isolated and unloved like a tall saguaro in the freezing night-time desert. The point is, I am now free to live and experience so many emotions and situations without the thought of him looming over my head. This freedom is truly liberating, and this time last year I was so sure that I would never feel this way. I decided my car cry was a good reminder of how far I've come. It is so normal to fall back onto the memories of someone you used to love, so easy to long for them and wonder how things could've been different, but it is ok to feel those things.
The memories will be with you forever which sometimes sucks, but the pain -that awful, debilitating grief of loss eventually fades and leaves you with a great opportunity for self-discovery and self-love. Take the opportunity, utilize it even though it hurts, and think of it as giving your future self a gentle hug exactly when you'll need it most.
And I said it wouldn't be an advice piece. Lol