The Aftermath of a Break Up

You will make excuses to continue to love this person. You will blame yourself. You will put them on a pedestal. You will romanticize the worst parts and all of the good parts will eat your mind alive. You will want to hold on with iron fists, refusing to let go of someone that you loved so deeply. You will cling to the idea of joining together as one again in the future; as if they are the only person in the sea, as if this person is an anchor in your sea and you're desperately clutching on to be tied down, as if it wasn’t the water that loosened your grip in the first place, thrusting you into the riptide you’re trying not to drown in.

You will spend your nights asking yourself many questions. Whether it ended because of distance, infidelity, a decline of feelings, or life just happened to get in the way, you will go through the five W’s in hopes of finding an answer amongst all of the thoughts in your scattered mind. You will ask yourself: Why are we not together anymore? Why are we not together anymore? Why don’t they love me anymore? What is stopping us from being together? What if I changed? What if we tried harder? What if I was softer, prettier, less volatile? Where did the love go? Where does love go after a relationship ends? Where do I go from here? When will I be over you? When will I go back to the person I was before I met you and was touched by your love? Who am I without this person? Who have I become? Who else could love me? Who else is there? Who is catching their eye now?

You will wonder how you ever lived a life without love in the first place, and you will wonder how you can carry on living a life without love now. You will feel unworthy and disrespected and the opposite of loved. You will have an internal debate as to what’s worse: never being loved or losing love. The former means you never would’ve experienced all of those firsts, the latter means that you have to deal with the aftermath of breaking up. What is worse? A life without love and compassion is not the kind of life worth having, but never knowing it would deprive us of the greatest human emotion one person can feel.

You will doubt yourself — your intelligence, your worth, your weight, your personality. The way you dress. The way you laugh. The things you love. The person you’ve turned into throughout the course of the relationship and what the aftermath of it has done to you. You will feel weak and pathetic and needy. You will hear the snide comments in the back of your mind more than once a day, like when you put on that skirt that they didn’t like, or when you begin to speak up about things that are important to you, or when you

You will try to do anything to rid the ache in your chest, whether it’s drinking it away, dating it away, writing it away, sleeping it away, or crying it away. It will feel like you’re barely treading water and you can see the shore, but you don’t have the energy to swim there. You will try to date someone else quickly after. Once you’ve really felt something great, you will want to be feeling that all of the time. You will want to be flooded with love, washing away all of the loneliness you’re experiencing. You will try to fill someone else up with your love even if they are not someone you should be chasing — its inevitable. You will kiss the wrong people and you will realize that sometimes the best thing you can do after a breakup is just be alone.

You will be tied to this person for the rest of your life, whether you think so or not. They are the song you listened to on your first date. They are the books you read together on the beach during your first summer as a couple. They are the ice-cold winter air you inhaled on the morning of your breakup. They will always, in some way, be a first for you. There will always be a first date, a first kiss, a first fight, a first night together, a first vacation. You have to remember that you will always have firsts with someone else.

You will buckle at the knees when nostalgia hits, and it will hit in the most unlikely or unanticipated moments; in the grocery store in front of your favourite can of pasta sauce, at a bar when The Cure begins playing overhead, in the library when you pass by his favourite book, and in your bed at 2am when you’re the loneliest. You will be angry at yourself for still getting upset over these small insignificant things when it was so long ago, but that doesn’t matter; the distance between this moment right now and the breakup in the past will mean nothing. Time puts distance between pain but it doesn’t heal it perfectly; the scars, faint or not, are still there. Learning this will save you wasting your time and energy trying to pretend you’re unaffected by things and instead, allow yourself to let nostalgia come and go as it pleases.

You will reread your text conversations for weeks after, trying to spot red flags and make yourself feel guilty in the process. When you do delete their number, you will feel a bit of freedom; no more hovering over the iMessage button, no more wondering if you can salvage any of this mess. But the thing about dating right now is that whether you delete something or not, it doesn’t just go away. You will realize this when you go to message someone else that shares the same initial as the one you loved and the deleted contact reappears like a ghost. You’ll be shocked at first and then get really mad at Steve Jobs for inventing a phone that won’t just do what you tell it to do. You will, for a split second, be tempted to message them to ask them all of the questions you don’t have answers to. You won’t — you refuse to take step backwards anymore.

You will watch a new life — one without you — begin and flourish. You will watch this life pass you by on whatever social network you’re lurking at the moment. Photographs of vacations with intertwined hands and ear-to-ear smiles. Tweets sent back and forth of song lyrics performed and written by a musician you both loved. Your Facebook news feed cluttered with tagged photos and wall posts. Double-tapped photos and comments on Instagram on your following feed. You will watch them fall in love with someone else through a screen. You will get sick of this — of grasping on to a ghost that has long gone — and you will stop. Your phone will stop bringing up their profile on Instagram. You will stop seeing tagged photos brought up selfishly by some Facebook algorithm. You will stop the habitual lurking to see what they are doing now or who they are with. This will be the moment that you will stop watching a new life and start one for yourself instead.

You will lie to your friends when they ask you how you are. You want to seem unaffected and fine. You will say you’re fine. You will repeat this to yourself when you’re on your bedroom floor after seeing the first photo of the one you loved with someone new. You’re fine, you’re fine, you’re fine. You will write about being fine; your life is great and exciting and freeing. You will post photos of you laughing and drinking with friends, visually pushing any thoughts of “She must be heartbroken” out of anyone’s mind. You will try to hide all of the bad bits going on. You can’t do that. You must embrace the mess that is your life, sad bits and all.

You will wake up one morning and decide that you are tired of loving someone you don’t even know anymore. You are tired of loving a ghost of someone that once was everything to you. You will realize that you must — you must — learn how to be alone again. You get so used to someone being there that you forgot what it was like without them, and that is why when you lose your first love, you are meant to relearn how to love your own company. When you lose your first love, you will know what it is like to understand loss and heartache. By trudging through, you will be able to open yourself up to the beauty that comes with the aftermath of breaking up — the beauty of finding yourself again.

Originally published on Medium
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