It will happen on a Thursday.
Or, more accurately, it will end on a Thursday.
You will be at work, anxiously anticipating the biting response to your text that you have shrouded in bravery – though you feel anything but – demanding, with all the misattributed boldness of a lion cub, to know what’s been going on the last few days. You already know the answer, though; it will be the same vague dismissal with traces of blame that you have grown used to. You are used to these periodic disappearances and deflections that have occasionally occurred over the last twelve months.
And when it comes, that text you’ve been pacing around for, that you’ve been jokingly whining to your coworkers about, you immediately take your lunch break in order to answer appropriately, eloquently, tactfully. These arguments have begun to feel like UN meetings, and you have mastered the art of being Switzerland.
On this Thursday, though, the time for being Switzerland has ended.
Sitting alone in your car, you pour yourself into the answer, releasing pent up frustrations and fears of the last few months and weeks, a hot bed of honesty that you usually only reserve for times like these. This time, however, it is different. Though you do not entirely realize it then that this will be your last exchange, somehow, subconsciously, there is some part of you that is cognizant that the ever-present, gnawing fear of him not answering, of him remaining silent, is much realer than it has ever been.
The waiting starts then. As it always does.
You start to wait. As you always have.
And you wait.
The girls at work tell you to go out, look hot, do your hair and make up, and act as if you don’t have a care in the world. That he’s a coward for ignoring you. That you deserve better. That you can do better. The time-honored catch phrases of girl power and single lady anthems that have been repeated over the course of history are now repeated for you and spoken with the sincerity of Bible verses.
Your friends applaud you via text for standing up for yourself. For speaking your mind and being honest. For playing your last card in the hopes of bringing down the house and having things return to ‘normal.’ Still, though, they know too well this vicious cycle, and are all too familiar with how these particular habits have proven that they are particularly hard to kill.
Hell, lauded but impersonal champions of feminism have told you, time and time again, that you don’t need no man to make you feel happy or secure – you are enough, and no text can take that away from you.
Regardless, you wait.
In such a digital age, how trivial is it that we play this twisted version of Russian roulette with our hearts through characters and symbols?
And yet we still play this game, and we all find ourselves waiting.
You’re still waiting as you get in your car again, now feeling indignant and self-righteous. That fleeting feeling of self-esteem and affirmation that you deserve better fuels you. You sit in highway traffic, sing-yelling to the lyrics of “Before He Cheats”, identifying with Carrie Underwood in some sense, even though he didn’t cheat on you. Your cynical side knows you’re just looking for anything to feed your gasoline soaked anger, that rage that is masking your heartbreak, in order to distract yourself.
You’re still waiting, now sitting at the dinner table of the country club with your parents, when you feel the self-confidence flames begin to falter and fade. Your sister mentions her boyfriend and their plans for the next night. The glass of Pinot Grigio you’ve already had begins to rev your emotional engines. You twist your fingers in your lap and bite your lip, as if that will abate the tears quickly gathering in your eyes, as all of your emotions quickly start to heighten, and your breathing begins to hitch in your throat. In a sudden moment of clarity, it hits you: you don’t have your person anymore.
You drink another glass of wine.
Against all odds, you manage to make it to your room and bathroom before you start crying. Of course, you try to make it a joke and send a Snapchat of your “Kim Kardashian ugly crying face” to some of your friends – we’re nothing if not a self-deprecating generation forever. You explain to those friends that text you what’s going on – that you’ve ‘ended things.’
How heartbreaking it is, that something as intangible as an emotional connection has to have a tangible ending; that something you can’t grasp within your hand, you can instead examine and analyze and point to, saying, “Oh, yes. It was then, that Thursday, at 1:13 pm, on June 11th, that it ended.”
How heartbreaking it is that silence, in this case, truly does speak louder than words.
You’re still waiting, in vain this time, silently crying as you turn the handle of the shower on, grasping at straws to calm yourself, as this idea and the water begins to fully hit you. You’ve got nothing left to wait for, because, as every fiber in your being screams to deny it, you know that this time, there will be no answer.
It’s just like the movies depict it, for once in their usually inaccurate lives – you get in the shower, start to cry, crying dissolves into sobbing, and eventually you can’t stand upright anymore because you’re hiccupping and shaking too violently for normal gravity to be obeyed. As Hollywood scripts would dictate, you find yourself hugging your knees in your tub as your showerhead beats down on top of you, crying harder than you ever thought was possible.
You realize you are the Hollywood heartbreak cliché. And you, cliché that you feel that you are, are still waiting, still hoping, still praying, for something you don’t even fully understand anymore.
Eventually, you begin to realize you’re wasting water as much as you’re wasting tears.
There’s something about that heaving chest, breath-catching-in-your-throat, head pounding type of crying that makes you feel better for a second, that gives you a clarified view of the world. For a second, your pain is no longer as crushing and overwhelming as the terrifying wave that it first felt like, and you break the surface with a fresh breath of air.
You will start to cry again, eventually. And you will start to cry again a lot – in the next thirty seconds, in the next day at work when one of the office girls ask how your night was, and in your too empty bed the next night when you’re still waiting, long past the point of what you know is reasonable.
You will start to cry again, but you will also keep breaking the surface and catching your breath again. There’s a method to the madness, as they say. You will cry because you realize you are still waiting and still hurting, but you will also cry because you are free. You are free from everything that hurt you and hindered you in the past year – all of the excuses, the lies you gave yourself, and the way you knew you deserved better but denied it all for the love you felt.
You are free from free from wasting your prayers and wishes on some entity that will also somehow make that intangible idea of ‘everything’ okay, and you are free from hating yourself for doing something as natural as loving.
You are free.
You will take another shower where you cry, but maybe for a shorter period of time. There will come a day when you don’t cry in the shower. You will drink another glass of wine that doesn’t reduce you to tears. You will see his name somewhere, innocuous and unexpected, and you won’t cringe. You will hear his favorite song, and your heart won’t split down the middle, or even tear at all.
You will no longer wait.
However, there is no shame in the waiting, because the waiting doesn’t just mean ‘waiting for a text.’ You are waiting because you believe, and you hope, and you trust in the goodness of this person that you care for so deeply – and there is nothing wrong with caring for someone. Even if, and, or when they don’t care for you, there is nothing wrong with extending that love and care to another person. The problem arises when you start to lose sight of caring for yourself, and instead let yourself be lost to it. There is no problem in loving, unless you stop loving yourself because you love someone else too much.
This is something you realize once you stop waiting.
It is still Thursday, and you are still waiting. You will probably cry again once you turn off your Netflix distraction and the reality of the situation knocks you over and out of breath again. You will most definitely cry again tomorrow. You will absolutely have another glass of wine tomorrow, and cry over it. And you will still be waiting, because you are human, and you care, and you love.
But there will be a new Thursday, or a Monday, or a Saturday. You will no longer be crying. Your head will no longer be aching from lack of oxygen devoted to sobbing instead of breathing. It will no longer hurt. You will no longer hurt. You will no longer be waiting.
That day will come, I promise.