One Year Later

Immediately, you regret angrily throwing out the lingerie. Well-fitting lingerie might be as rare as enduring love.

Later, you’ll question ripping up your sketch of him too. You had drawn him from a photograph, smiling in serenity, resting topless in your lap. Those two objects signify who you truly are: sensitive, sensual and strong. Those qualities belong to you. They are yours to treasure and share with the world. These are your gifts, even if they were once viewed through someone else’s eyes.

The balance of perspective takes time.

In the beginning, you must live inside the washing-machine of contradictory emotions. Welcome to your new home for the next few months. Get comfortable bathing in unpleasant feelings. The laundry cycle of sadness, anger and guilt will wash you clean in the end. The rotation goes like this: “I’ve lost the best thing I ever had”; “he’s lost the best thing he never had”. Eventually, you will understand the truth. A truth gifted to you by a children’s author:

“People aren’t either wicked or noble. They’re like chef’s salads, with good things and bad things chopped and mixed together in a vinaigrette of confusion and conflict.” (Lemony Snicket, The Grim Grotto)

Breakup culture wants you to idolise him or to loathe him. Do neither. Slowly turn your head away. Look down at the ground where you stand now.

You need to forget New Rules. Do you see how those rules still place him at the centre of your reality?

Here are Your Rules:

  1. Don’t pick up the phone. You know you’re only calling ‘cos you’re drunk and alone.
  2. Let them in. You can’t kick out true friends knocking at your door.
  3. Be your own friend.

You will become comfortable prioritising yourself. You can only achieve this by making your life better, not by making your life look better. It’s not late-night gym sessions, eye-liner and false laughter. Eventually, you’ll exhaust yourself trying to live for someone else’s gaze.

 

Day 1

 

Replace the unbearably heavy weight of “why?” with “how?” instead. How will you choose to spend your time? How will you change? How will you become the person you want to be?

This shift of perspective happens in increments and crystallizes in a moment of pain.

You’re crying on the floor; your mother gently rocks your tiny, shaking bones. In that scene, you become the foetus she nurtured for nine months. You finally shed your old skin. You admit it: you lost a battle which you called to arms all by yourself.

By focusing on “moving on”, you’d forgotten all about moving forward.

You find a new way of being. This time, you aren’t living for anybody else. It’s relentless work, eventually becoming the person you wanted to be. Of course, you aren’t just grieving for his absence. You are unlearning the habits of a lifetime. This was just a catalyst in your own journey of positive, personal growth.

For too long, you’ve only understood your identity in relation to someone else.

Figuring out where you went wrong means revisiting the path many times in your mind. You revisit it in your writing and in conversation too. Don’t listen to those who say talking about your loss makes you weak. You aren’t obsessive or needy. Those who balk at sincerity wish they were free too. In honesty, there is room to breathe. In cynicism,  there’s no way out.

There is no such thing as “caring too much”. Keep talking about how love and loss transformed you.

Your deep capacity for love is your greatest strength. The potential for your love to positively impact those around you is limitless. Months later, he will tell you that he wishes he could experience love like you do too. You tell him that your capacity for love started with learning to love yourself.

What about being wanted? What about feeling desired? How do you silence the voice which says the hands between your thighs must belong to someone else?

You find sensuality outside of sex. You abstain from sex for months. You wait until your eyes meet the dark eyes of someone whose kiss makes the base of your spine crumble. You lean against the railing of the bar that night and beg for the touch of this “someone else”. You realise that you can lust freely again.

There are bad days ahead, but there are so many more good days. The balance shifts delicately. One year later, you realise it’s been months since you last cried. A few weeks in, you laugh so hard that tears roll down your face. Somebody tells you a story which makes you gasp for breath. You see colours again. You find contentment in the smallest things: the ridges of your favourite mug; your wet armpit hair; Virtual Insanity by Jamiroquai.

The surprises ahead will delight you.

You won’t be the person you were before him. You want to erase his existence and restart from day one.

Here’s a lesson from your father: you can only start from now.

The pain stems from trying to reconcile who you were before, where you stand now and the unknowable future ahead. Understand that you will be born anew. Know that this rebirth is only accessible through pain and loss. Then, and only then, you will meet a version of yourself you’ve never encountered before.

I won’t give you any more spoilers. I feel you grabbing at my ankles, begging me to tell you that he comes back. What if that’s the least significant part of the narrative? What if the person you became is worth the things you lost in the fire? What if your story is even brighter than you could ever imagine?

We talk about losing love. What if we’ve got it all wrong? Here’s my realistic belief in love. When we have given someone our love, it is never truly lost. We just absorb it deeper into ourselves. We hide it beneath layers of grief. It is obscured by pain, anger and sadness. As time chips away at the grief, so we find love again. We choose where we direct that love now.

So, radiate it outwards. Let it soak every limb of your body. Start by delighting in every inch of your own skin. Then, extend it to those around you. For having loved and having lost, you can understand the pain of others. You can see when a smile is masking tears. It started with your love and ended with your love. Realistic love. The rest is just background noise.

 

Day 365

 


 

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