“How do you remember?” she asked me, sipping her coffee and narrowing her eyes.
“How do you remember who you were before they crashed into you? How do you remember what you wanted, and what your hopes were? I feel like everything changed when I fell in love. I think about the things I crave, the places I desire to go, and I always imagine the person I loved right there with me — they are tethered to my wants, they are twisted into my daydreams. How do you remember who you were before someone else became a part of you, before someone else made themselves at home within your ribcage?”
“Well, it takes time. It’s a process, an unlearning. It takes time — my god does it ever take time. When you love someone deeply, when you truly, and unapologetically love someone, they grow into the roots of you. You have to pull them out like weeds.
You have to shower them out of your hair. Slowly but surely, you need to scrub away their memory, peel them off of yourself like old skin. When they leave, you have to wash them from your sheets, dust their fingerprints from your favourite coffee mug, shake their scent out of your sweaters. Leave no trace of them behind.
You have to come to terms with the fact that you let them leave with so many pieces of you. You have to forgive yourself for loving yourself thin, for forgetting about the things you wanted to do because you were so busy trying to save someone who didn’t want to be saved.
And then — then you have to build yourself up again. You have to take whatever you have left within yourself, and you have to work with it, you have to rise from it.
Pay more attention to what stirs your heart. Pay attention to the music that makes you want to cry, or dance, or jump right out of your skin. Pay attention to the way your mouth reacts to different foods, how your eyes react to the possibility of new far off places. Pay attention to the things that make you laugh, the things that make you smile. Really focus on figuring out what compels you, really focus on discovering the aspects of the world that interest you and challenge you and make you want to learn and grow.
You have to pay attention. You spent so much of your time simply focusing on what someone else wanted from you. You spent so much of your energy being exactly who they needed, and now it is time to figure out exactly what you need, exactly what you want. It’s time to pay attention the the call of your own heart, it’s time to nurture yourself. To say yes to yourself, to give yourself permission to be happy, to give yourself permission to dream out loud.
It’s time — time to realize the potential you always silenced in their presence. Time to survive without them. Time to fall back in love with yourself.”