“I once had a conviction having to do with love. I floated on the certainty of it. It had a man’s name. But devotion on its own can’t last. It is a silly, foolish thing.”
—Susan Minot, “The Man Who Would Not Go Away”
Tell him the truth: that you can’t see him anymore, at all, because you love him too much. Have the self-respect to realize that telling him this via text because he doesn’t have time to come over, means that you are making the right decision. Try not to focus on the thundering silence that follows. When you crumple on your bed, you will wish that you had less self-respect, that you could text him your feelings or, worse, that you should have just stuck it out and he would come around. Be strong.
Move. Take a different route so that you do not have to feel the pang driving past his house to and from work. Move out of the apartment where he left you alone in bed at four in the morning, even though you turned the thermostat down so he would be comfortable and stay. Ignore his voice when you enter your new home, telling you the features of which he approves and does not approve. Do not envision him standing in front of your balcony with a cup of coffee, barefoot, rumpled, the way you have wanted to see him every morning for the rest of your life. Start anew.
Block, delete, unfriend, make private, do not contact. He does not deserve to know about you. Do not stalk. Do not lose all the air in the room when a friend mentions his name.
Go out with your friends. You will feel as though someone has pressed a matte filter over your life so everything is flat, muted, but sometimes going out can result in multiple hours where you do not think about him. Avoid situations where you are the only single one, feeling like you are dangling your feet at the kids table while all your friends look into each others’ eyes. At least do not cry in public; they do not know how you feel broken and there is nothing worse than making a scene. You can do that once you get home, as you do every night, while you wonder if he even thinks about you at all.
You know that he does not think about you. You know that he loved you, but now he has far more important things that concern him. He has established that he does not have the burning need for you in his life that has occupied your soul for many years. Do not think about all the situations in which he would be the first person you call (a serious illness, a death, a final “I love you” on a crashing plane).
He is a fortress of emotion that you should aspire to be. Yes, you were once in that inner sanctum, but a long time has passed and you should not presume that you know him anymore. Maybe you have been wrong this whole time, and this is not a love story—because no matter how you spin it, you have been ignoring the parts that are incredibly fucked up.
Do not listen to songs on the radio. Do not listen to silence. I do not know what to do.
Do not think about how you fell in love. Do not think of him gently exploring your naked body a short time ago. Do not think of barely watched movies tangled together on the couch, of how he smells and feels when you squeeze him, of his endearing meticulousness, of the stupid grin on your face that came from just being around him. Do not think of him whenever you see a family. Do not try to articulate the depth of your feelings because anything you say will sound cliché. Do not try to describe how you feel so connected to him that you must have lived this romance, this destiny before, and you wonder if it ever worked out in a past life—you will sound crazy. Although it seems impossible given how you love him, he is under no astral obligation to love you back, no matter how much you tell him or show him that it hurts.
Do not wish that he would give you closure, tell you he doesn’t love you anymore. You wouldn’t believe it if he did. You think that he still loves you and is just being obstinate. You are wrong. You can look at his actions and connect the dots, but your heart won’t listen because everyone says when you know, you know.
Do not date other people while you are still crying over him. You are not scared of getting hurt again nor are you closed off to love; the simple fact is, they will not measure up. You cannot fathom it is possible to love someone as much as you love him. Fortress of emotion. Do not imagine, and make yourself cry imagining, the day that he will marry someone else. Do not think of the measured faces of others when they describe the one that got away, and how you can’t stand this happening to you.
Sleep when you can. Sleep will reset your brain and hopefully give you the respite you seek. Sleep means a chance to wake up not thinking about him, and it means an increase in time. Time heals everything—though those who have lost may disagree. Be hopeful that in three months’ time, six months’ time, you will feel better. Tell yourself these things, and hope that in repetition they become less impossible-sounding. Do not entertain the idea of waiting for him. Breathe, write, live your muted life no matter how much it hurts. You know he has made his decision, he is living his.
Pain and cruel hope will intertwine in your life. Do not hold on, do not think that pain is less terrifying than other options that might indicate getting over of the love of your life. Endure the pain, save the hope for another love. Now he is just a habit of thoughts that you need to break.
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