You broke up with them. You said those words that ended it all — “I don’t want to be together anymore, we’re not working, please don’t contact me again,” or some variation of that. You know it wasn’t a healthy relationship; you fought all the time, you were both immature, they made you so mad you wanted to throw their stuff over the balcony several times a week.
You wanted to be single. You still do, sort of. Who knew what else you could find out there? Who was waiting for you? How did you know if this was real love?
Your family didn’t like them. Your friends didn’t like them. Sure, they liked them as a person, but the two of you together? They thought you were awful. They constantly pressured you to break up — “They’re never going to do anything with their life,” “You’re going to be the sole provider in that marriage,” “How are you even attracted to them?!” “You’re so young, go date other people and realize how bad they are for you,” “You can do so much better.”
On some level, you know and accept all of this. You realize that you weren’t a great person when you were together. You let your friends down, you let your family down, you were sort of disappointing everyone because your life started to revolve around them.
Overall, you know it was a doomed relationship. You can’t — you shouldn’t — be with someone who doesn’t make you a good person. You should be with someone who your family and friends love, who you can bring to your family functions or have a big dinner with your friends and not have to worry about whether they’re having a good time or not.
But you can’t stop feeling that constant emptiness from their absence. You’ve been walking around with a strange pressure in your chest, like a sadness that just won’t quite let you cry, but affects your day to day life nonetheless.
You’ve started to think about them constantly again. Checking his social media pages every 3 minutes has become a compulsion, looking to see if maybe he’s thinking about you too. Sometimes you think he is, based on those song lyrics, or sometimes he’s not, based on that stupid tweet that reminds you of why you broke up with him in the first place.
However, you’re starting to forget those bad things, and the things you do remember just really don’t seem that bad now that you look back on it. You’re starting to remember the way they made you feel, the happy memories constantly creeping around in your head, popping to the front of your mind when you pass by that coffee shop or the intersection where you would always laugh as they ranted about the students crossing when they weren’t supposed to.
You lie in bed at night and remember those cold, spring mornings where you would skip your classes and stay snuggled up in bed, listening to the rain and just enjoying each other’s presence. You remember those times you would steal the TV from the living room and set it up on your desk so you could watch movies while you laid in bed and ate Chinese takeout. You remember those times you would cook together and dance around the kitchen, neither of you embarrassed because you were both terrible dancers. You remember those summer nights, driving around in the dark, your head on their shoulder and listening to their voice while they hummed along to all of your songs. You remember watching movies together and knowing that exact second they would choke up during a sad part, because knowing how they were feeling had become a sixth sense for you.
You remember the Sunday nights driving back to school after visiting home for the weekend, when both of you were so sad to be leaving and they were only a little ashamed to cry in front of you, and you held their hand because you were crying too. You remember holding them when they were struggling with figuring out their life, feeling like a failure but strong because they knew—they thought—you were there to support them no matter what.
And then you realize you let them down. You failed by letting them go when they needed you the most; you were the only one pushing them to be better, to be more than they thought they could be. You always saw the potential in them when no one else did, and you were outraged when other people questioned your choices. But you let the pressure get to you.
You wanted to see why your friends judged you so much; you had constant epiphanies after the breakup, realizing people break up all the time, it’s normal to be sad, it’s normal to be lonely, and after a while, the loneliness went away and you think you found out who you are.
But at the same time, have you really? You’re still learning about yourself, still figuring out how to handle the stress of everyday life on your own. But you’re also realizing, you don’t have to handle it alone. They still love you — hopefully — and would probably be with you if you decided to take them back. You could have that again, and maybe this time it could be different; you’ve been apart for several months, you’re both different people. You’ve slept with someone else, a random, drunk hookup, which you only slightly regret, and you’re a stronger, more independent person. You think you’ve got your head on your shoulders and know what you want.
You’re still terrified to go back though. You’ve only been feeling this way for a couple weeks; what if it passes, and you meet someone else? Maybe you could end up meeting someone through work. What if you end up moving in the future, and they’ve got other plans?
What if their plans don’t include you anymore?
This has all been rolling around in your head for weeks. Round and round they go, noisy and irritating and distracting you from everything else in your life. So you’ll wait for another week and see if those thoughts come out as a shiny, smooth decision as to what you’ll do.
Until then, you’ll have to deal with the irritation and sadness that comes along with the ridiculous mess that is love.