At 18 years old, I fell in love with a boy. The boy on the bench smoking a cigarette outside of my college dorm. It was love at first sight. At least, that’s what he always told me. I’m not sure what it was now.
We had a beautiful relationship that was akin to a storybook romance – better, at times. But somewhere along the line, something turned sour. Maybe we began to grow up, splitting down different paths. Maybe one of us evolved quicker than the other. Maybe our feelings shi ed. Maybe something better came along. I chased him for five years. We tried and tried again to rekindle what was once so magical. But nothing stuck. It was dead. We were dead. Neither of us wanted to accept it, but it was too painful to keep trying.
So we cut ties.
The man who was once my best friend became nothing but a drunken text message, a frequent visit in my internet history, a ghost on the sidewalk outside of our favorite restaurant. It’s been three years since then. And here I sit, engaged to a new man whom I love with everything I have.
But everything I have isn’t what it used to be.
I love in fragments. I love in sharp pieces. Pieces that, if held too tightly, slice me open, exposing the broken parts that I haven’t quite figured out how to fix yet. I love with a fraction of what I used to love with. I’m not sure if that’s because a piece of me is still trapped in the past, secretly hoping that things will resolve themselves one day. Or if it’s because nothing can ever really amount to my first true love. The love that opened me up, showed me there was something beyond myself. Showed me how to find my missing pieces in another. Showed me what it felt like to lose myself in another so fully and completely, euphoric and oblivious to the real world surrounding me.
I don’t sleep like I used to. I don’t see the world as I used to. Everything feels like it’s covered in a layer of soot. Everything gives me anxiety. I’m always waiting, hoping for things to be as good as they used to be. But they won’t be. Because none of it was real.
So where do I go from here?