“One writes of scars healed, a loose parallel to the pathology of the skin, but there is no such thing in the life of an individual. There are open wounds, shrunk sometimes to the size of a pin-prick but wounds still. The marks of suffering are more comparable to the loss of a finger, or of the sight of an eye. We may not miss them, either, for one minute in a year, but if we should there is nothing to be done about it.” –Tender Is the Night, F. Scott Fitzgerald
For the past two(ish) years I was unwavering sure that I would never have to be out there again. I would never again have to go through the process of getting to know someone, trapping them into liking you, or worrying if they were going to call or text you. And I was content with that. I thought that what I had lucked into having was “it.” Something I never believed I was deserving of. But that delusion disappeared. It was a Monday.
This isn’t working.
I’m not in love with you anymore.
You’re using me as a crutch instead of getting better.
The last one opening up a hole in my heart. Tearing and ripping it open.
Leave. Please get out.
Please just leave.
And then he does. He does what I never thought he would do. He leaves me.
The blur of phone calls that alternated between my mom and my friends were marked with unbearable sobs. I never knew that those sounds could ever leave my body.
I can’t move. I can’t think. I can’t do anything but cry. Two friends show up and pack up all of his things and I lay in bed inconsolable. One spends the night. I think everyone is afraid for me to be alone. And I’m afraid to be alone too.
I keep expecting to wake up. To roll over and see him still there. Just a bad dream. Just a horrible dream.
But it wasn’t. And I knew that when I woke up in the morning I would be waking back up to the terrible dream that turned into reality.
I tell my mom that everything hurts. She tells me that she’s glad I’m feeling something again.
I wake up crying. I cry in the shower. I cry driving to work. I cry when I got to work. I don’t believe that I can do it. No, I know that I can’t do it. And then the bell rings, bringing my students into my room.
I was so scared I wouldn’t be able to get through the day with them. And now I don’t know how I would have gotten through the day without them.
Those first couple of days as I struggled to get back on my feet I couldn’t listen to music. I couldn’t write. I couldn’t do any of the things that I need in order to survive the world inside my head. And then I found myself being able to listen to music. Only rap at first.
And gradually I was able to listen to the songs that I was sure would break me down further. Instead they comforted me. Slowly, I was able to listen to it all.
The writing was the most difficult. I wanted to write about it. I needed to write about it. I wanted to write about my feelings, thoughts, hopes, fears, doubts, hurt. Anything that I had felt since that day. But it was still too raw. I hadn’t been able to process all of those things myself. I wasn’t ready to see it on paper. I had to protect myself from the one thing that means the most to me.
And then one day I wake up and write. I write about what I’d had with him. I write about what I actually want. I feel relief. I feel freedom.
I was so sure that I wouldn’t be able to survive any of it. I could barely survive most days anyways. But I did it. I did it on my own. I picked myself up. I was able to put the Band Aid on. I didn’t keep bleeding like I had done so many times before.
The voice that keeps circling through my thoughts,
You’re using me as a crutch instead of getting better
begins to fade away. I realize that maybe it is true. That I had been relying on him to get better. I realize that it isn’t true. I have been getting better. I have been making progress. That all the therapy, the hospitalization, has been working.
I was able to stand up without using crutches. Instead of continuing to lay there, I grabbed ahold of the hands reaching down to help me off the floor.
The fog of what happened begins to clear. I realize that I lost the person I am somewhere in the past two years. I can’t pinpoint the exact moment when I lost her. I don’t know the exact location of where I lost her. But I lost her.
I lost her trying so hard to be a girl that I wasn’t. I lost her trying to shrink myself into a box and a life that was too small for me. I lost her when I pretended it was the life I wanted. I lost her in the limiting, the settling, the shrinking. I lost her when I stopped thinking about what I wanted. Where I wanted to be. I lost her when I stopped trusting myself and my thoughts. I lost her when I began running any thought, decision, plan, by another person before acting on it. If he didn’t approve, then I shouldn’t either.
I love him. I care about him. I miss him.
I don’t blame him for what happened. There’s no way I could. It wasn’t his decision to wake up one day and realize his thoughts had turned in a different direction.
I don’t blame him for the promises he made. I think he believed in them when he made them.
I don’t blame him for leaving me. I don’t blame him for not being able to handle me anymore. I think that he really did believe he could. I think he realized that he needed to focus on himself after focusing on me and when I might throw in the towel on my life.
It terrifies me how quickly it can all happen. It terrifies me to know that the person who knows you inside and out, knows your mind, knows things that no one else knows, in one day, can become someone that isn’t in your life anymore. It terrifies me to know that you can trust someone completely and that can all crash in one moment. In a few words.
I don’t love you anymore.
Now I’m shakily learning to be myself again. To remember who I am at the base of it all.
I’m putting my heart back together. Attempting to find the strongest strength of cement to use. Some of the pieces are missing. I’ll probably never find them. My heart is a vase that was knocked off a table and shattered into hundreds of jagged pieces. You can glue them back together but you’ll always be able to see where they separated from one another.
I see how much he wanted to fix me. I wish he had been able to. But I can’t be fixed. I don’t want to be fixed. I can’t be fixed, just like the vase can never be what it once was. Every crack and broken, chipped piece is part of me.
I see my therapist. And I fill him in. He tells me how proud he is of me. That he’s proud of the progress I’ve been making. That he’s proud of me for being able to stand up and fight.
And I tell him that I’m pretty proud of me too.