Tuesday, August 13, 2013

'to the boy i already knew i would never marry...'

I've come to expect that the pain associated with a forced goodbye is an inevitable emotion. There is no easy way to part with someone who once occupied a space in your heart, and there is no easy way to remove every trace of that person without feeling like you're losing a part of yourself.

Exhibit A from an earlier blog post: "I was four-years-old when Colin proposed. It was snack time and he casually offered me a celery stick and a ring from the toy box." (Spoiler alert: he moved away the next day after our wedding, and so came my first introduction to the kind of boy who walks away without warning.)

At the age of 24 now, I can only think of one person for whom I fought against my every natural instinct to walk away from--a boy I loved for more years than I should have, until telling myself not too long ago that love never happens so easily that you should assume the other person is fighting to stay with you too. (No, it wasn't Colin. My four-year-old self got over that fairly quickly.)

If you know me, you'll know my affection for Joan Didion, and you can already guess that I'm about to quote her. Didion has a lot to say about enduring heartbreak and suffering from heartbreak and recovering from heartbreak, and there is one line in particular in "Goodbye To All That" that I never really noticed before in my dozens of times of reading it until recently: "All I could do during those three days was talk long-distance to the boy I already knew I would never marry in the spring."


I didn't move across the country and from city to city just to get over a boy, but that reason certainly crossed my mind. The first month I spent on the east coast two summers ago was lonely and filled with dread and regret as I wondered how many moments he and I would be missing out on apart. More than spending the previous year in a passive tug-of-war of emotion, he was someone who changed my life when I needed a reason to believe in living again.

There is no rhyme or reason when it comes to cutting off ties with someone you once so casually said, "I love you" to. There is no explanation for why our hearts feel a metaphorical break when we reach for the phone to call or to text, only to remember that it is no longer the norm to be in touch. There is no rationale in purposely choosing to walk away from someone we care about because we believe it will be better for our own sanity.

And yet we do it, because hanging on and talking for days with someone we will never be with despite how much we long to be with that person...it's something that we think may comfort us because it's something that's familiar.

But letting that go, moving past it and saying, "No more"... does that mean I've truly grown up? At least, enough to no longer love someone who I trusted too much with my secrets and my dreams? I've only ever had my heart broken so completely once in my life, so I'm no expert, but perhaps heartbreak should be something that can move us to push forward. It could destroy us, or it could be something that builds us into stronger people. Let's hope for the latter.

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