One year ago I woke up to the text that every lover dreads to receive.
“Call me as soon as you wake up.”
Is he okay? What happened? And how fast can I dial his number, my fingers shaking over the keypad.
My heart went through the greatest transformation of its life, as my love of four years, the first love of my life, revealed his infidelity to me. The details are no longer important; suffice it to say that my ribcage collapsed in on itself holding a jagged rib like a knife to the throat of my heart, cutting a lover-shaped hole out of my body.
In the hour following his infidelity, I lay cemented to my bed. Gravity must be in tune with my mind; it’s never felt so heavy before. Friends hugged and comforted, but hugs couldn’t fill this new lover-shaped hole. They only temporarily plugged the leaks.
In the day following his infidelity, I genuinely don’t remember much. Dark room, curtains drawn, my roommate and best friend tiptoeing. She felt my pain like I did, and like me, was at just as much of a loss as how to deal with the truth.
In the week following his infidelity, I didn’t eat. My body was full from the remnants of love, my stomach still getting used to the addition of heartbreak and mistrust, my mouth embittered by the salt streaming from my nose and eyes.
In the week following his infidelity, I finished up my finals. He never was good with timing, and as it turns out, he was pretty shitty at timing breakups as well. My papers became my distraction, hours spent analyzing somebody else’s problem in an effort to get away from mine.
In the week following his infidelity, I gave him the chance he didn’t deserve and allowed him to explain his wrongs to my face. Because maybe he’d yell surprise, and reveal the world’s worst joke. Because maybe seeing me, he’d realize how much he’d fucked up and I’d be able to see remorse crumbling the structure of his face.
In the week following his infidelity, I sat in a dorm room that wasn’t mine, on a college campus that wasn’t mine, surrounded by friends that weren’t mine, and broke up for the length of a weekend with my love. Forcing each skin cell to separate from each other and say goodbye. Forcing myself to walk away from what I never wanted to end. From the last four years of my life. From the only relationship I’d ever known. I sat in that dorm room that wasn’t mine which had no doors, and had no windows, and had no air, and felt my body contorting to try and make space for itself in this room that no longer had any space for me.
In the month following his infidelity, I came home, a dog with a ducked head crying, hugging my mom in the arrivals terminal of the airport, hoping that maybe her hug would fill the lover shaped hole in my body. It didn’t, but she tried.
In the month following his infidelity, I accepted two of my dream internships and started working six days a week in hopes of forgetting him. No one had ever told me that the presence of your lover’s ghost is the reason cubicles seem so dreary, but it was a comfort to know that my resume had no space to describe my heart’s health.
In the month following his infidelity, I relapsed once. I admit it. I called him and stayed up until four in the morning yelling and crying at him. I woke up in the morning knowing it could never happen again.
In the month following his infidelity, I started seeing a life counselor because oh my god, I couldn’t do it on my own. Because oh my god, my fingers were not strong enough to let go of the last four years. I had never realized that letting go took more strength than holding on.
In the month following his infidelity, I saw my sister graduate. I was proud of her and of the woman she had become, and mad at myself for having such a cloud around me that my vision was obscured from truly seeing her graduate.
In the month following his infidelity, I deleted him on Facebook, Instagram, Spotify, Snapchat. I deleted his phone number, because who needs that anyways. We are connected with ever cell of my body; why do I need technology to connect us as well?
In the year following his infidelity, I returned to school for another semester, uncertain of what would happen and my heart still stuck in that first hour, no matter how many months transpired.
In the year following his infidelity, I allowed myself to be sad. I cried until I threw up because, damn it, he hurt me and I am allowed to feel hurt. Because damn it, I don’t have anyone but myself to heal. Because damn it, healing isn’t pretty. It’s not the flower blooms but the earth worms fertilizing the soil. No one wants to see it, but it’s got to happen.
In the year following his infidelity, I stopped saying no to hanging out with people. I had no long distance calls to make, so sure I’ll go to this event or watch that movie. Originally it was just to fill up those empty hours, but maybe after time I started to like it.
In the year following his infidelity, I stayed single. I’ve been to parties and had some crushes- after all, I am just a college student. But I just spent the last four years of my life in a relationship. Why would I want to start another one so soon? I’ve never been much good at puzzles, but I’m pretty sure no one but myself can fill that lover-shaped hole in my chest. There’s no use jamming the wrong puzzle piece in; it’ll only obscure the finished picture.
In the year following his infidelity, I’ve started dating myself. As it turns out, this heartbroken chick is pretty damn cool. I didn’t know her that well before. She really likes literature and art history. She’s a feminist, she loves to travel and to crochet. Her taste in music is amazing. She wants to be a writer and a professor. She enjoys late night dates in the bathtub with some chocolate, wine, and a good book. I’ve really enjoyed her company. I apologize daily for not having listened to her sooner.
In the year following his infidelity, I’ve started to decide things based on me, not based on we. I made up my own opinions for what seems like the first time in my life. I realized I hadn’t been ready to be in a long term relationship. I started loving myself. I started being confident in myself.
In the year following his infidelity, I’ve started filling up the lover-shaped hole that he left in my body. I’m not done yet. It’s a big job, and a little messy. But there’s no rush, because it’s my body and my life and I’m genuinely enjoying where I’m at. I still get sad sometimes. That’s okay. I’m very conscious that my body will forever hold scars from this hole, and that I, as well as any future lovers, will have to spend extra time caring for these scars. But I’m ready to care for them, and I’m not interested in anyone who isn’t.
My lover-shaped hole has stopped being a missing piece of me, and is now simply a piece of me. And that’s just fine by me.