I like to tell myself my heart was broken days, no, months before. I like to tell myself this when I'm waiting in line at the grocery store or when I'm heading home on the train. When I stare off into the horizon as the sun is setting, thinking about how insightful I must look to someone looking at me. I'll think to myself, "Gosh, I ought to start thinking of something insightful on the off chance someone asks me what I'm thinking about. How embarrassing would it be if someone asked me what I'm thinking about and I'll have to tell them, 'Oh, you know, how insightful I must look to you.'" So I'll dig and I'll dig and I'll dig into my mind, into the deep trenches where I keep my memories, my beliefs, my hopes, my pain. I'll dig to where there is no closure, where thought and patience is demanded in bulk. I'll dig to you, or at least the memory of you.
Things are different now. I say this all the time, but I can't think of any statement more true. I've changed, I've grown, I'm not even at my final form yet, and there's not a doubt in my mind that you too have changed and grown. It's been a year. A whole year to take a step back and see this for what it really was. In many ways, it can be called the ending of a relationship, but in the way that mattered most, it cannot be. To recognize the relationship aspect would be for me to say there was love, but there was no love. Just the illusion of love: infatuation, obsession, jealousy, desperation, manipulation, miscommunication, misunderstanding. Both of us needy. Both of us lonely. Outsiders in our own worlds. We were too quick to give both too much and not enough of ourselves to each other, but never trust, never patience. It was too late when we realized it, yet we still tried to make it work.
I like to tell myself my heart was broken days, no, months before you ended it, but to tell myself that would be to invalidate the denial, the anger, the bargaining, the depression and finally, the acceptance of it all. I like to tell myself I saw it coming because we were already heading in different directions, but the reality of it is you can't see when you're blind. And I was blind. Blind to the problems between us, blind to the problems I created, the problems I added to.
There are days when I wait in lines at the grocery store or when I'm heading home on the train, and a great deal of regret weighs down on me. Regret for all the terrible things I've done, all the kind things I kept from you. I like to tell myself I had good reasons for all of my antics. I like to tell myself this on those days when I'm in line at the grocery store or riding home on the train, and my regret catches up to me.
For two years, I let myself be defined by another person, a person I didn’t trust, a person I now realize I didn't love. To have that definition stripped was freeing. Emptying at the start, but at the end of the day, freeing. How much of me was me and how much of me was you? It wasn’t very long until I found there was no quantitative answer to sufficiently answer that question, no percentage of you I could just replace with something healthier, like yoga or juicing. Your footprint already pressed deeply into the crust of my foundation, my repressed molten core seeping through cracks of my broken self.
It's been a year. Sometimes it feels like only a day has passed, like I can still call you, still force myself on you. Most days it feels like centuries have passed, like I have lived through several lifetimes since you told me you weren't feeling it anymore. Just recently, though, I've been thinking a lot about this heartbreak in particular. How trying to make it work afterward only put us face to face with the real problems between us.
I want to write in detail about the measures I took to move on: the boxing up of pictures, of mugs, of feelings, to the stream of friends I went out with to get my mind off of things, to watching "Julie and Julia" over and over and over and over and over again, until I woke up the next morning on my living room couch. I want to write about moving into my university two weeks later and finally feeling like I could start over. I want to write about all the times something reminded me of you but had to hold myself back from texting you about it. I want to write about all of that, but all that stuff isn't as important as what I really want to write about, which is what came after I finally moved on.
I woke up one morning in the bed of a friend. Morning sun peeking through the threads of her curtains. My eyes were puffy and wet. I was alone. I could hear her shuffling around just outside the door, but I wasn't ready to face reality. When I woke up again, it was the afternoon, I knew, because I could feel the sun beating on the skin of my collarbones. My friend was there in the room with a cup of water, enough Emergen-C to drown in and a couple bananas. When her hand found mine, I remembered the night before.
I remembered her hands helping me up off the floor, walking me to her room, I remembered her fingers combing through my hair, placing a warm towel over my eyes. I remembered how I got there, how I was curled up on the floor in front of my room, my head laying in a pool of tears. I remembered hearing her tell me that I didn't have to say anything, that she understood, that she wished someone was around when she hit that point.
I reflect on this because it was one of the first times someone had seen me at my lowest, at my grossest, and didn't leave me, but instead extended a hand, extended a heart. It was the first times I felt a specific kind of love I didn't think I could feel. A love that feels the same way sitting by a warm fire on a cold night feels, the same way sinking your head into a soft pillow after a long day feels.
It's been a year since my heart was broken but because of that, I have been able to let a love and calmly fill the cracks in my heart, and I am so, so, so grateful.