I remember the first time I listened to a love song and was taken aback by the feeling of connection I had to it. Like anyone who has ever encountered a radio in their lifetime, I’d been exposed to plenty of love songs before, and felt every range of emotion from sadness to longing to warming up to the possibility that yes, this was it, I had finally found what this singer was talking about, I’m sure of it this time! Yet this, this was the first time that I truly understood the sentiments without any question, for this was the first time in my life that I knew romantic love.
I was in the middle of compiling a playlist of such songs to put on a CD to send to my boyfriend for Valentine’s Day when I learned that the same understanding just as easily applied to songs of heartbreak.
That shouldn’t have caught my by surprise. I mean, I’ve known unrequited feelings before, and anyone who has can easily relate to the likes of… well, honestly, Taylor Swift is the first artist to come to mind. None of those experiences were enough to prepare me for what was on the other side of my breakup. This time, I had given my heart to someone, and they had given me theirs in return. Nothing could prepare me for the moment when that exchange was undone.
Everyone loves to throw out the old adage, “It is better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all” in these scenarios. My immediate reaction to that (and still my reaction to it, if I’m being truthful) is what a load of bullshit that is. Every ounce of positivity bestowed upon me by well-meaning friends, my therapist and my mother made me want to sink deeper and deeper into a hole where no one could ever find me. I related quite well to Linda Belcher’s Valentine’s Day song, which was also extremely fitting considering the proximity of my breakup to said holiday.
The most accurate piece of wisdom I was told is that losing a relationship is similar to experiencing the death of a loved one. I can certainly confirm that as truth. In the few instances where I have lost people close to me, my ability to emotionally cope has gone haywire, and my breakup has been no exception. For the first two days, I left bed only to go to work as I was obligated to, but it was my immediate destination as soon as I clocked out for the day. Any other commitments outside of that were minimal. I wept almost incessantly that first day, and cried at least once per day after for about a week and a half. I consumed just enough food to function that first week and skipped out on the gym during that time because of it. I was a mess.
Almost two months later, I can’t say I’m much better. To say that would be to ignore the fits of emotional breakdowns I am still prone to have. I can wake up and feel amazing, like I’m finally ready to take on the world that I’ve wanted nothing more than to hide away from, and by midday be moody and distant again, anxiously awaiting the time I can return back under my covers and shelter myself in the darkness of my room with only Netflix for company. A ghost has followed me these pasts weeks. It haunts me with the memories of what was and pushes me to think of what could have been. Sadly, it does not give me peace even in sleep.
But now, it is joined by the horrors of what will be. We’ll both live, of course, and we’ll both also move on. New men will come into my life (I’m assuming), but new women will come into his. They’ll replace me, if they haven’t already. That’s what plagues my mind, and leaves me rather delusional, actually. Our relationship was long distance so it’s only fitting our breakup would be as well. There was no last face-to-face goodbye, only words spoken over the phone telling me it was over. Halfway across the country from me, I’m convinced that he’s doing so well, living the Cali life, doing everything he wanted to do and then some. He has already forgotten about loving me, surely, and is free to play the field. I was but a moment in time, and that moment is over. Everything we were has faded into the past with the only option to move forward, and he’s doing just fine with that.
I know that I am being foolish and that cannot be true. I would love to believe that only my suffering exists and matters, yet our conversations (for we are trying to be friends and communicate still) give me small insights into how this is affecting him. Perhaps I am hurting more for the moment but there are things that hurt him as well.
The art of letting go, just like falling in love in the first place, is such a messy affair that it almost doesn’t seem right to call it art at all. Letting go is a fight between your logic and your emotions. It is a daily battle to convince yourself that yes, you will love again, that someone will appreciate you so much more than the person who abandoned you and your future together. It requires the daily affirmation that you are still good enough, which is the hardest one for me to believe. My relationship ended because the man I love just couldn’t do it anymore; his heart was no longer in it. It takes all the rationality I have to remember that I did nothing wrong and gave everything I could, and he couldn’t accept it because he wasn’t ready or felt he deserved it. There’s a masochistic part of me that wishes there was some fault of my own in this, so that when the battle rages and my logic can’t keep up the fight, I can focus on what I did wrong instead of feeling completely powerless when thinking of my lost love. I mean, come on now, I was in love with my best friend, the person everyone and every damn web article tells you to fall in love with, how could I have not done something wrong? But I didn’t, simple as that. I, nor anyone else, can fix someone aside from themselves. That is a lesson I personally have already learned through much trial and tribulation, and it pains me to know a person in that position–much less someone I loved deeply–because I know just how shitty it is and how far of a climb it is to find the solid ground beneath your feet where you can stand proudly and say, “I love myself.”
It feels cruel to give up loving someone, whether or not it is by choice. A part of me will always love him; he was not only my first boyfriend but my first love, and you never really lose that, but I cannot go on loving him like I did the past almost 18 months that we were together. It is all so unfair. Not only is it greatly unfair that I was robbed of a future with him, one that I so happily and anxiously looked forward to for so long, but it is unfair that he could not accept the gift of my love and that I must now even fathom giving it to someone else.
The art of letting go is only in art in that, once you finally feel the release, it is to be appreciated, and the human spirit in all of it is certainly to be admired. It is only through the examples set before me by friends and family that I know I will survive this period of grieving. I am astounded by the relationships I have seen that were born forth from devastating heartbreak. I envy them, but cling to the hope that when the storm clears and I can let go of everything that threatens to bury me in its wake, something just as amazing will await me when the calm settles and the sun shines on my life again.
For now, it is my turn to work on ending a relationship: the one between me and my misery.