It’s hard to be the one who stays, so says The Time Traveler’s Wife.
I empathize. I have pined for the unrequited, crawled on broken glass to fix a broken dream and lived a good portion of my teenage years willing a boy to change his mind and come back. There is nothing dignified about the quick fall or slow climb back up; being unable to accept reality nor displaying your battered heart on your sleeve. It is not romantic and hardly noble. It is embarrassing having to publicly piece yourself together, pick up your shame and if all else fails, grab the last cabin of a train and pray no one spots the swollen eyes. Worst of all, it is all degrees of tiring being kept awake by pure yearning and longing.
But it’s harder to be the one who leaves.
Because if your smart decision doesn’t work out the way you have played it out in your head a million and one times, you have no one to blame but yourself. No ‘but he hurt me’ to use as an excuse for lying in bed all day. No warped reassurance of knowing that you always have an outlet to assign all blame for your total misery anyway. You did this to yourself; made your bed to lie in – what’s your excuse?
No one mentions the heartbreakers because there is obviously a clear divide between the ones who break hearts and the ones who get broken. (Except it’s not so simple.) No one talks about how they lie awake in the middle of the night, questioning whether they made the right decision, finally falling asleep from mental exhaustion but with no answers, because no one thinks they have any right to complain. No one asks whether they’re fine, because why should they be anything but good? No one talks about the nonchalant face they have to put up (cue “All Hail The Heartbreaker”), pretending that breaking hearts and dreams is something that came easy. No one wonders whether it hurts as bad to walk away than to be left behind because no one believes it should be painful. At all.
I don’t condone trampling all over an unsuspecting heart and then leaving it for road kill. But in comparison to its counterpart, staying is easy. You cry, you dwell, you fall repeatedly, you eventually get up and get better. Leaving takes courage; it is a one-way ticket for a flight that leaves no room for Regrets or Second Guesses.