After a breakup that almost destroyed me, I took to my bed for not just days but weeks. I wasn’t just broken, but whatever is the next step worse than that, horrifically devastated, might be the most accurate explanation of the state of my mind and heart. As with anyone who’s just experienced heartbreak, I was quite sure I wouldn’t recover.
Once I was able to get out of bed, I went through the motions of being alive, as one does after such a thing. I remembered my routine: Getting up every morning, brushing my teeth, showering, and then off to work. I was moving and breathing, but I was like walking dead. The pain was just unbearable.
But time passed and everyday I grew a little bit stronger. I moved to New York City, started a new beginning, and even began dating again. I felt like I had come full circle and he was just a distant memory; a memory I assumed, or rather hoped, I’d never see again. Then one night the unfathomable happened: I ran into him. Of all the bars in all the cities in the world, there he was. It turned out that he, too, had decided New York was the place to be.
My stomach dropped. I began to shake. I couldn’t feel the ground beneath me and I was pretty sure that I was going to throw up all over the floor, any neighboring person, and myself. It was going to be a projectile vomit; the kind that comes with extreme emotional distress. I grabbed my friend’s hand to steady myself as he came walking toward me. I could not believe he was walking toward me.
We exchanged pleasantries; I guess that’s what one would call them, and he asked about my family and I asked about his. I commented on the weather because it had been a hot summer and he commented on the length of my hair. I also ordered another drink, because, dammit, I needed one.
As I proceeded to get tipsier, the fear and nervousness began to melt. I was able to laugh and the comfort level we had between us was back again, although it had been almost two years. I realized, although I missed him and always would, I was in the process of moving on from him, despite the nausea and trembling earlier in the evening. I felt good, to be honest. So, when he asked me to go home with him, I did. Because OF COURSE, I did. I thought I could somehow prove even more to myself that I was over him and, in my mind, having sex seemed like the best way to really solidify that. Yes, at the time, it was a drunken idea, but some of the best decisions we make come out of a bottle of whiskey.
When he kissed me, I felt nothing. As our clothes began to come off, I was far less excited than I used to be when we were officially in love. I felt this strange sense of empowerment, as if I were getting the closure I never got to have when we broke up, because I was finally the one in control. I was calling the shots, as I had sex with a man I used to love to prove to myself that I was over him, and I absolutely was. I knew then there would be no more tears shed at his memory, and I also realized that all the great sex I thought I was having with him, was actually pretty mediocre. It was a beautiful realization.
He asked me to stay the night, but I didn’t. I put on my clothes, grabbed by bag, and headed home. I felt a freedom that night; one I had never experienced before, but would a couple more times in my life over various situations. For many, crawling back into bed with an ex might be the worst idea in the world, but for me, it gave me the solace and proof I needed. I loved him once upon a time, I really did, and the loss I felt when we parted ways was one I thought I’d never survive. But I did survive and realized that loving and losing is part of the game. I’d love again, which I have, and I’d lose again, which I also have. It may sound silly that that evening with him changed everything, but I think, similar to a fear, once you look the person who hurt you so badly in the eyes, it just doesn’t seem so scary anymore. Having our bodies intertwined, back in that place I knew so well, being as close as two people can possibly be, broke down a wall, and I escaped.
When he called me a few days later to get a drink, I passed. When he called a few days after that, I passed again. It felt amazing to have my life back, and to have the weight of our break-up securely in the past; exactly where it belongs.