This Is How You Stop Wanting Them Back

Recall the first time you made an effort learning about their favorite Indie band. Hark back to the day you listened to their deepest perplexities, and everything felt right with the world. Remember the tightness of their embrace the night you pulled them to dance in that sea of people. Replay the long walks you took, the catchy songs they sang to you on the phone, and the conversations that went by. Take notice of the little things — the faces they made when telling stories, their high-pitched laugh, the effortless company, their fascination for hummingbirds, and that all-knowing hand squeeze they do to give you reassurance. Feel a void in your life, and repeatedly blink in disbelief now that these days are a blur.

Let yourself drown in your lingering attraction. Picture them in vivid detail — the intensity of their cheek bones, the eyebrows they scratched from a childhood accident, and the mole camouflaged on their left pupil. Find these features riveting and terrifying at the same time. Get lost in the thought of breathing in their skin under the sheets. Evoke the feeling of their teeth on your ear. Long for their entirety. Crave having their nose against yours, your palm on their hair, and their fingertips on the small of your back. Yearn for the taste of their nicotine-stained lips, and bite your lustful tongue in frustration.

Go to war with yourself. Be excruciatingly torn between wanting to shut them off and make them stay. Recognize the part of you that wants to be rational and collected, and the part that would throw away pride if it meant holding them again. Experience withdrawal like an addict who wants cure but has more appetite for dependence and fixation. Feel a lump in your throat every time you try to speak with composure, and be unable to utter anything that does not translate into a bittersweet “I miss you.”

Put up a tough front. Forbid yourself to submit to anything that keeps you spiraling down that pit of disappointment. Remove them from your sphere of existence, whatever the costs may be. Feel the need to preserve what is left of you. Repulse every effort they do to reach out to you in the name of the “friendship” they say they want to save. Build a wall, but only manage to keep it frail.

Hate them for knocking up that wall not even remotely as hard as you have built it. Loathe them for thinking they still own the right of speaking with you just whenever they wish to. Despise their selfishness, and how they keep pulling back the strings you’re desperately trying to detach. Feel a deep-seated shame that you let them in again when they didn’t deserve it. Be afraid at how much power they hold over your rationality, and be more afraid you actually like it. Cringe at the way they check up on you every now and then, the way they say your name out loud, the way they were suddenly reminiscent, and the way you subconsciously wished it meant something for them too. Hate them for their guts. Hate yourself, even more, because deep down, you knew that if they said they wanted to, you’d take them back in a heartbeat.

Let yourself be reminded of what could have been. They could have been that someone you’d turn your world upside down for regardless how frightening the consequences may seem. You could have been the muse of the songs they have yet to write along with their bass guitar. You could have been introduced to their everybody as their other half. Photos wouldn’t be the only evidence that once upon a time, you cared, saw, and knew each other on an intrinsic level. You could have had a label, and you never would have remained in the limbo where the right to grieve and feel is neglected because society said so. They could have been your person. But they weren’t.

Eventually, you realize that you’re not supposed to want them back for a reason — because the potential flame your familiarity has ignited is now extinguished with irrelevance; because your desire to keep them has been an destructive need that has to be given up; because you changed, they changed, and so did the connection you thought was there; because the way their presence sucks the air out of your lungs has transitioned from enthralling to suffocating; because your push-and-pull dilemma has become nothing but a boost to their ego; because going in circles won’t change the fact that what you had is broken and distorted; because the things you’re holding on to are now barren of meaning, and the only thing left to do is to release your clenched fists and let it be.

There is no one to fill the void that you feel, so you create your own closure. You breathe in the pain of not going beyond the potential, exhale the vindictive desire for vengeance, and start feeling a sense of relief. Because while what you had with them was too surreal and exciting, it didn’t outweigh the fact that you were treated as expendable; that they had kept you a secret; that they left the second things got difficult; that to them, sincerity meant vaunting their new romance without the respectful respite; that they were too naïve to realize that friendship should be a reflex built upon time rather than on mere consolation.

Maybe, the fact that you remained an ‘almost’ saved you from yourself and from all the parts of you that you were willing to give. Maybe, regardless of how twisted and sugar-coated this may sound, what you had was not a reminder of what you didn’t have but rather an exhibit of what your heart is capable of. For even if it was just momentary, you were raw, honest, vulnerable, and genuine — regardless of whether or not they were too. You lived in extremities and impulses because you were brave enough to believe in people and go the extra mile for them. You had the backbone to be grateful for a fleeting spark that was never yours, mean well even if you were hurt, and be mature enough to understand that sometimes, people can consume you, but you can choose not to be lessened by them. That, alone, is beautiful. TC mark

featured image – Khánh Hmoong

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