When you decide to stop loving them, your body will convince you this is the wrong decision. Everything inside burns with promises, with ideas about the future, with a different you. The you before the shattering. Before the ending. Before you were faced with the strangling thought that now, you are not supposed to love them anymore. Now, you are supposed to move on from this feeling.
Open up a box with all the memories you’re trying to forget. Scatter them across the entire room, taking your time to not miss a single moment. Sit with all of it. Wonder if you can still smell someone on a shirt you haven’t worn in so many moons. Do not run to the bottle or cell phone, ready to send messages you’ll regret when the melancholy isn’t aching so loudly. Just sit there.
Remember how it felt when they kissed your clavicle, or how their laugh always reminded you of a stampede. Wildebeest herd be damned, you’d risk being trampled every time.
Think about the first time your heart told you this feeling was different from before. It wasn’t the love you’d heard of. This is the kind that bubbles up, an unwatched pot of water ready to explode. There is a power in it you cannot turn down.
Silently curse it. And then, verbally curse it. Look at all these ghosts of happier times and think how no one warned you of the leftover haunting. Saying goodbye doesn’t mean everything ends.
Feel dirty, ashamed, like you should be better than this. Like you should know how to be okay. But you’re not. So, yell. Yell to no one and everyone.
Store the box away. If it feels right, maybe you’ll throw it out entirely. Just let it be out of sight right now.
Feel for your pulse. Marvel that every day, your heart beats about 100,000 times. It feels like you think of them 100,000 times. But your heart is still beating and pumping. Even though it feels broken, it’s still going. And so are you.
Watch a movie or comedy special that forces laughter from your lips. One of those strong belly type laughs can send 20% more blood flowing, so giggle even when you aren’t sure you can. Watch Aziz Ansari, or Amy Schumer, or John Mulaney, pick your favorite. Feel hearty bellows healing your body. Remember your heart is not broken. Broken things do not continue working. You are bruised. But you still work.
Call or reach out to someone who has always been there for you — a friend or family member. Tell them five different reasons they matter to you and how much you value your relationship with them. Sip on some nostalgia and joke about a story from your past together. Romantic love, while beautiful, is only one kind of love, and never enough to fully sustain a person. Take note of all the people you have in your life. All the love you have surrounding.
Go for a walk and make yourself a promise for the duration of your walk. I will allow myself to feel whatever I feel. And listen. With every step, check in with yourself. Are you sad? Are you angry? Do you feel utterly lost? Listen to all of it. Accept all of it. Decide this walk will be the time you finally let yourself off the hook. Decide this walk will be when you are allowed to grieve however you need.
Cry. Question. Break and look them up on social media. Want to cry more. Think of calling them. Of texting. Don’t.
When you decide to stop loving them, you will do everything you can think of to make it come true. But maybe you aren’t ready to stop. Maybe time, distance, or some other magic ingredient will do the trick. Or maybe, just maybe, it’s okay to still love them. Perhaps your heart has enough room for some piece of love to stay forever. A preserved painting. An artifact of what you shared. An echo in the back of your chest. You will figure it out.
And if after all this, you still find yourself loving them, so what? We could all use more love, even if it’s the type to be tucked away in a box.