Heartbreak Then, Heartbreak Now

When we were younger, and our heart breaks, it felt like the end of the world–as if the ground would open up and swallow us whole in chaos.

When we are older, we know that the world will not end and that indeed, life goes on. But with age, so does our pain mature in that the feeling of hurt is rooted in reality. The reality is that as days pass, we are psychologically compelled to forget and mend ourselves.

In this sense, our heart heals but instead we are introduced to a new type of pain. This pain does not grab you in one fell swoop, but rather gnaws at you with numbing persistence. The sorrow in understanding that what once was beautiful no longer exists, and continues to fade. The disappointment in knowing with every morning, it will continue to become a distant memory, in knowing that it will be replaced. There is pain in wondering how something and someone who made us so happy could become nothing more than a faint imprint on our lives. The pain in not wanting to let it go, but having no other choice.

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The Race to the Bottom

Who can move on the fastest? Who is more miserable? Who is better at pretending they are okay and well-adjusted? Which one of us can still look at the world with the same refreshing optimism?

Off the heels of a break-up, I feel like this is the unspoken competition that couples embark on. Which one of us can sweep our relationship under the rug best? It is a sad commentary on the way people view emotions and the depth of our time with someone. A series of beautiful memories are reduced to a thing we should quickly get rid of, because who wants to be the last one wallowing?

When I was younger, I felt no shame in being transparent with my feelings–elation, sadness, joy. When I was sad, I spoke brazenly about how much my heart hurt on whatever form of social media was available at the time (ie: Xanga, facebook before it was widely used). I posted lyrics or quotes that un-subtly hinted at my pain, or shared songs that outlined my heartbreak. I was unafraid of how I would be perceived and relieved to let out my emotions. I was young and naive.

Then I grew up, as did the avenues of social media, and I realized how pouring out your hurt is perceived as weakness and pitiful. I realized that in today’s swipe-left, swipe-right, attention deficit society, dwelling on our emotional injuries is seen as abnormal and irrational. Moving on is seen as a positive, self-affirming action. It means you know your worth, and recognize your value.

So I did what most people did: hid all remnants of me and you and never once hinted at the pain I was going through. No sad lyrics, or provocative quotes, no mention of you, or us. Everything calculated to ensure that no one could construe that anything was wrong, that I gave you a second thought, or that you still lingered in my dreams.  And it sucks.

But here is the thing that no body knows…Our relationship is something I never wanted to pretend didn’t happen, to be swept under the rug, to be forgotten. It happened, it was the happiest I’d ever been in my life and it makes me sick to my stomach to act otherwise. My love for you was never some flippant decision, and my heart was never something freely distributed.