1. When he starts distancing himself from you, do not restring bridges with your own sinew. You will find yourself two months later coming unraveled, coming undone. You will find he has left you in the places he has visited and in the hair of the girls he has imagined kissing. You will find yourself splatterpainted on the walls where while drunk he confessed all of your secrets to his college friends. You will be crying on the floor, surrounded by the parts of you he has stepped on, and he will look you in the eyes and ask you to clean up the mess.
2. When she cannot get through the words “I love you” without her eyes flicking to the side or her tongue slurring or her mouth pressing in at the edges: do not assume it is your fault. Do not think that you have yet again pushed away someone amazing. You have not. Sometimes people knock on their bones and find themselves hollow. You were the only way they felt momentarily whole, do not empty yourself to fill up their soul. Do not shatter into pieces trying to perfect yourself. You do not need to be glass to turn light into rainbows. You are a person, not their prism.
3. Do not let them hold you against their body if you know they do not cherish every second they are in contact with your skin. I know it feels as if you are breaking your own spine, but tear yourself away from them. Know that the something beautiful you had was already fading. Know that in the end you did the only thing you could. Sometimes people grow apart. Even trees do it.
4. Cry. Want them back.
5. Cry. Do not take them back.
6. In the following months, you will rediscover what it means to be alone. You will sit and stare at a ceiling and hate yourself and hate the world and cry about everything because everything hurts. You will wonder if it could have gotten better if you’d just been a little different, if the timing had worked out, if if if. Do not worry about this. Nothing would have changed the reality that the person you were in love with had stopped loving you somewhere along the line, whether it was in the middle of a conversation or while driving under a bridge or when they made eye contact with someone new and wonderful. It doesn’t matter. Stop wasting your time on them. You don’t need to stop your story just because they are no longer a main character. Do not take back what has already poisoned you. Instead start healing and start healing soon.
7. Take yourself back. Bring out the mop, the broom, the magic wand. Glue where needs to be glued, put up new paint, turn off the lights in places that are too hot to touch. Touch your toes. Touch your hair. Touch a dog. Touch the grass, touch the telephone, do not call him. Touch base with your mom. Touch another person with no love in your heart, touch another person and mean every second of it. Believe in yourself even if you don’t believe in love. It’s okay. There is nothing wrong with being alone. You are the best company you’ll ever know. It’s okay. It’s okay. You’re gonna be okay and none of this was ever your fault. Sometimes people just fall out of love. It’s okay. It’s okay. You’ll one day discover you didn’t need them anyway.
THIS IS SO IMPORTANT TO ME RIGHT NOW
(Y’know, in all those months of being in love, and out, and in love with being loved, and out of love with being wanted at all, and in love with being out of love with—
in all those months, the months that begat years, I never called my mom. Or my dad. Or anybody. They called me, and when they did, all that seemed to matter was how little I was doing to be self-sufficient in another city.
That’s not to blame my parents. They were right. They were very right. I wasn’t doing anything constructive—for myself, or the woman I had loved. I was drifting and wasting my early 20s. They’re gone forever, and all I can do is try and be better. I don’t like calling an era of my life a write-off, but.
But, I never called anyone. I have friends, I have family. I maybe could have contacted some of them. I could have rambled on and talked their ear off. You know that feeling in a long phone call, when your ear gets hot and you have to switch sides? Does anyone else hear better out of one ear than the other?
I could have talked to somebody. Instead, I drank too much and spent piles of hours on my own. I ate poorly, I lived poorly, and the people who knew me then couldn’t possibly have ratcheted up their respect for me.
I didn’t seriously seek employment. I didn’t further my creative abilities. I bought fresh food from the farmer’s market every couple weeks, and threw it out because I had grown fat and full at Pizza Pizza, and on horrendous samosas from the corner store.
I never called anyone and told them how scared, how alone I felt. I still haven’t done that. I’m better now, but I still never talk it out. And for the record, typing it out feels nothing like saying it. I could write a gawdam novel here, about all the scary I do, but if I spoke it true with my voice, I wouldn’t make it through.
I never called anybody then, and I’m coming to terms with those wasted years. I should call somebody.)