It does not come at once like you hoped it would. There is no defining moment, no slamming of the door and deciding you’re finally over it. It doesn’t end itself neatly.
It spills out of you, messy and unkempt.
At first, you will not want to let him go. Even if you refuse to admit this out loud. You decide to keep it safe. A secret between you and whatever you believe in. If you hold on, you still have him, right? If you hold on, something still exists, right?
You feel for him in the night. Remember he is not there. Hold on, still.
You will be across town at a dark bar when the song he loves starts playing. You think of texting him. You go so far as to pulling out your phone and typing his name. But, you stop. You put it down. You decide to listen to the music instead. This does not have to be his. This can be yours, too.
Your best friend tells you how beautiful you are. You don’t believe it. At least, not now.
A month later, he will tell you he misses you and everything inside you will be set ablaze. You try to speak, but it’s all forest fires. You try to respond, but your fingertips are smoke.
Your best friend tells you how beautiful you are, again. This time, you listen. You still don’t believe it, but you listen.
You tell him you still love him and there is no response. You realize his reaching out was a drunken mistake. It was not out of love or missing or serendipitous fate. He was just alone and wanted a warm body. You were just a warm body.
You cry a lot.
You cry for what you were and what you thought you’d have. You cry for him, how much you wanted him and what you could give. You cry for broken promises and futures that will not be realized. But mostly, you cry for yourself. And that’s okay. It’s okay to be sad about this.
It’s another night and the same song is playing. You think of him, but your hand doesn’t reach for the phone. Your hand reaches somewhere else this time.
You wake up and breathe. You remember how much of your life you’ve lived without him. You kiss someone who isn’t him. You kiss your damn self.
There’s an orange moon in the sky and he loves those. And you hope he’s happy. You hope he saw it. But you don’t feel the need to tell him.
You look at yourself in the mirror and smile. Congratulate yourself for surviving another shitty heartbreak.
Remind yourself this is just a chapter. Your book isn’t even close to being done. By the end, who even remembers the first few chapters anyway?