While stores are boarding up their window fronts and bracing for what will likely be one of the most divisive elections in recent memory, I’m over here bracing for a birthday that I wish I could just fast-forward through. I know in an earlier post I mentioned trying the “being friends with your ex thing,” and while we are on good terms with one another, it’s been quite the adjustment since he moved out and moved on with his life. Despite my best efforts, I’ve found that tatters of a life half-lived and promises of a future that will never be are harder to put to rest than I had anticipated.
I think that one of the worst aftershocks from a breakup are all of the things that go unsaid. The moments that you reach for your phone to text that person to tell them something about your day and you don’t, even if you are on good terms with them, because they’re no longer “your person.” The milestones that pass without the acknowledgement and fanfare of years gone by (like birthdays and holidays). The gaping absence you slowly but surely adjust to, because that’s just what you have to do if you want to stay alive.
Much like this election, I know that this birthday, and more broadly, this year, will eventually pass.
That is not to say existing right now isn’t riddled with anxiety as a result of copious uncertainty in our world, but there is some solace in knowing that it will not last forever.
Just like politicians come and go, heartbreak, too, will wax and wane in severity as time marches on.
Despite that sliver of solace, sometimes there are incessant reminders of the past that you just can’t shake. Like the dog we got together on a whim right before we went on a ski trip. Every time she acts up, I can’t help but think she wouldn’t be such an ass if her human was here. I’m an adequate placeholder to feed her and to take her outside, but I’m not him, and that void is palpable.
I know people are well-intentioned when they say “the best is yet to come” and “it’s only up from here,” but the reality is when you’ve had your heart broken time and time again, the more years that pass, the less that optimism seems believable, or even possible; you start to question if your judgement is even reliable, or if you’re even capable of being loved and not inevitably left to start over, once again. And again. And again.
Sometimes I wish my faith was stronger. With everything that’s happened in the last several years, it’s hard to believe there’s a reason behind so much visceral, damning pain.
But maybe that doubt and that questioning is just part of the journey. Maybe there’ll be a big “ah-ha” moment and all of the horrible things that’ve happened will make sense.
Or maybe it’s not indicative of anything greater.
Maybe it’s all just part of some big cosmic joke that some of us are only ever capable of getting close to finding true love (if that’s even a thing), only to get slapped upside the head and told it’s as elusive as Ahab’s white whale.
I’m beginning to think the latter is true, because fixing a busted heart isn’t like resetting a game of Solitaire. Every time I’ve started over, a little piece of me feels like it has died and become boarded up, just like the storefront windows of so many big cities this week.
Each and every heartbreak seems to hit just a little bit deeper than the time before.
In many ways, it feels like a “how many licks to the center of a Tootsie Pop” commercial.
How many breaks can a heart take before it gives up?
But before I get all Debbie Downer on you, I should note that I do know time is a marvelous thing. In time, many of those fractures can feel less like cavernous holes and more like paved over craters. Sometimes you can rebuild atop those craters and create something quite beautiful. But sometimes you can’t rebuild, which is why I still avoid certain restaurants or activities because they’re just too painful to revisit, even months or years after a breakup.
Then there are the aftershocks. You know, when those fissures and fractures you thought were paved over slowly or spontaneously rip open and swallow the earth above it wholly and completely?
I had one of those recently when I went back to my parents’ and found some letters from when we first started dating. That was fun. There was so much optimism and hope in a love that was just starting to take root. It was painful to read those words knowing what would come to be of it all.
Sometimes those fissures heal with time…sometimes they don’t. Sometimes you just have to tuck them into a box to maybe look at in several years when your heart is in a different place. Or maybe you never look at them again, and that’s okay, too.
Lately I’ve felt like much of my existence is a set of poorly strung together fissures, which has mirrored itself in an uptick of GI flares and almost catastrophic weight loss.
Again, I know this season of life won’t last forever and yes, I have an incredible support system that checks in on me so I’m not thaaat worried about existing in a temporary state of disarray, but when you lose your best friend and go from planning a wedding and doing everything together (especially during quarantine), to living alone and everything feels like it sucks, it just takes a toll and a hell of a lot of time to reset, ya know?
Now, if only time would hurry up and mend things, already. Breakups are certainly a balancing act of feigning put-togetherness (until it actually happens) with impromptu moments of despair. Right now I’m ruminating in a space where I don’t think enduring love actually exists. Rather, I’m currently of the mindset that it is an impermanent façade that builds you up, only to laugh at you terribly when you inevitably and almost assuredly fall on your face.
I know, this isn’t the cheery birthday message I’ve toted in years gone by on here, but that’s okay. It’s indicative of my current state, which is: single, unemployed, and staunchly pessimistic that love is nothing more than an elusive temptress, much like Homer’s sirens who would enchant sailors to a shipwrecked fate.
But maybe in my shipwreck there’s an upside? Maybe there’s a better boat to be built, that is, if I don’t (metaphorically) drown first?
Well, that took a turn to the macabre, but hopefully you gather my tone is less depressed and more sarcastic in a “fuck love” kind of way. Like I’m legitimately happy for my gajillion and one friends who’re getting engaged and married right now, but also, it fucking sucks to start over, yet again, right before my birthday, in the middle of a global pandemic.
That’s all. Maybe this year I’ll do a cake smashing instead of the traditional cutting. That seems more apropros. Hulk out on some confectionary to get out some of my frustration. It’ll be the only cake I’ll be cutting this year (bad cancelled wedding joke).
Alright, now that’s actually all.
It’s crazy to think this time last year, I was sending save the dates and picking out wedding bands at Tiffany’s on my birthday, and this year I literally have less enthusiasm than the “it’s your birthday” sign Jim and Dwight put up for Kelly’s birthday.
But ya win some, ya lose some.
I feel like that’d be a good slogan for an election…I digress. If you’ve made it this far, bravo.