For about a year now, tears have kept me company while I navigated heartbreak. Several times a week, I would break down, crying until my eyes were nearly swollen shut and my face red and splotchy. The despair of being left so abruptly sat in the pit of my stomach like a rock threatening to drown me in a sea of depression.
Everything and anything became a trigger. Seeing happy couples walking hand in hand on the street, passing by old haunts that he and I used to frequent, good news from friends that they were either getting engaged or having a baby or buying a house. The Golden Gate Bridge screensaver on my Apple TV could send me into a fit of tears, seeing his favorite yogurt at the store could cause knots in my stomach.
The good things that started to happen for me, those were big triggers as I couldn’t share the good news with him anymore. I couldn’t feel happy or proud of myself even though I tried hard. The bad still outweighed the good. This seemed so unfair, I was doing all of the right things; trying to shift my focus to other things, spending time with friends & family, traveling, going to therapy and not keeping my feelings bottled up. Flashes of anger would strike me, hot with the unjustness of it all.
I burned through several journals during this time, their blank pages fated to be filled with ink and tears; filled with words pleading with him to regret leaving and come back (words that he has not seen nor ever will see), self-loathing and sorrow. I went to private therapy once a week, sometimes twice a week when needed, just to cry some more.
I felt I had been branded with “LEFT BEHIND” on my forehead, thus dooming me to a life of being stuck in this post-breakup depression. “Will I always feel like I’m bleeding out from my heart?” My loved ones promised me that the bleeding would one day stop.
But yet, for the life of me, I couldn’t understand how I could be stuck in this cold winter of life when I fought every day to heal and move on. I was doing all the right things, so when would enough be enough?
I didn’t realize until recently when I sat down and tried to provoke a crying session, that I just didn’t have any tears left for him. It was the one-year “anniversary” of the breakup, and I thought I must have been emotionally constipated or something as throughout the day, I didn't feel much. Sure, a few a tears trickled down my cheek, but it wasn’t the full-blown crying session that I sought after. I tried listening to songs that I had been avoiding for the better part of a year, knowing that their lyrics would cause the crack in my heart to deepen. I tried replaying scenes in my head, listening to the confusing words he had said to me last May:
“For what it’s worth, I love you”.
“I don’t know what the future holds, but what will be will be”.
“I don’t know why I’m doing this, but it feels right. For right now”.
Those words have haunted me and had etched themselves in my neural pathways, refusing to make way for new paths that would better serve me. But here I was a year later, and I could barely muster up more than a few tears. The familiar tight feeling in my chest was noticeably absent. The anchor that usually dropped in my stomach was only a bit faint. Why couldn’t I feel anything? Was something wrong with me?
Then it hit me. I couldn’t feel anything because I didn’t have much left to feel. My identity had become so wrapped up in being the grieving dumpee that I hadn’t noticed that my period of mourning had passed, rendering itself no longer necessary. I had made it to the other side of the creaky knotted rope bridge that is a significant breakup just like my loved ones said I would.
I pondered about how long I possibly could have been healed without noticing. As I looked back, I realized that I hadn't broken down in a month. Something that astonished me, as grief had been such a close acquaintance for so long now. So, why was I sitting there trying so desperately to bring forth the very emotions that I had prayed would go away?
I believe that I had let sorrow and heartache become apart of my identity, and if I lost who I’ve been for the past year, then who was I now?
I kept his ghost alive by ruminating over every single negative emotion connected to heartbreaks. Because if I could hold onto this grief, then I had a familiar certainty in a very uncertain situation. Misery was my comfort blanket, keeping me from fully grasping my growth, the unknown.
I had already lost my identity as a partner, given up the plans we had made together; the life that I was about to move to across the world. Losing my identity all over again, even if it was just grief, has been confusing in itself.
For now, though, I can be proud of myself for pushing through and persevering in the face of adversity. I’ve made it past the stages of heartache, and have come to a place that I never thought I would see. I look forward to the new chapter, where even in uncertainty, I will be living for me and me only; grief is no longer welcome here.