And finally, after a week of sobbing nights, it finished. Of course there was sadness. But mostly, I just felt relief. The relief that you can only get when knowing that your suffering has come to an end, that everything will be better from that point, or so you think.
This is not a heartbreak story. This is about the emptiness that we all feel. A void that you’re subtly aware of and can successfully cover most of the time. But the void is still there, and it is only when your life destabilizes that it starts alluring you inside. And you, desperate, attempt to grab anything in your vicinity to keep you in balance.
First attempt: Attention. It’s never a good idea to start dating right after a breakup. But this is the kind of lesson that you can only really learn by doing. We all think that we may be an exception, that we know, unlike others, what we’re doing. In my case, I wasn’t looking for love or even sex. I just wanted to find out “what was out there”, whatever that meant. I enjoyed the dates. Not so much the person sat in front of me, but rather, the person I became in their presence. But once the dates were over, I was overwhelmed with disappointment. Failure after failure, not quite finding what I was looking for. There was much out there, but none of it for me.
Second attempt: Business. I filled up my calendar, feeling weirdly proud and satisfied when my schedule was completely full. I knew roughly what I was going to do every hour of my day. It wasn’t boring. I made time for everything: university, volunteering, socializing, hobbies. In many ways, I was just “living purposefully.” And it would’ve been so if it hadn’t been because of the unbearable dread that I experienced every time a plan fell through. That emptiness.
Third attempt: Intimacy. There’s a certain kind of comfort that you can only get from a relationship. The nights in with the messy hair, the pointless talks about our days, the caressing and cuddling in front of a screen, the endless kissing, the vulnerable self-disclosure late into the night. I had no desire for commitment, but I recreated the emotional and physical intimacy that I missed. Inevitably, feelings developed, which were apathetically dismissed, leaving behind a hesitant confusion.
Fourth attempt: Solitude. Having become aware of my inability to spend time alone, I decided to try the opposite, to find comfort in myself. Solitude can work well temporarily. Sometimes you just need to get away and “find yourself” to discover who you are when no one else is looking. I explored and found the exciting comfort of novelty. But over time and without fully realizing it, I started losing motivation. Something was missing, and I didn’t know what.
Fifth attempt: Food. I gave up on trying to get any more satisfaction from making plans, so I started spending more evenings at home. In theory, I had it all under control. I was just investing more time on the old reclusive hobbies of my adolescence. In practice, however, there were many sneaky excursions to the kitchen. You know you’ve hit a very low point in your life when you find yourself in bed, in the dark, with the only company of wrinkled foil and chocolate crumbs. A whole package gone. Dark chocolate. After all, there was no excuse to be unhealthy.
The sequence of these attempts wasn’t clearly defined—they were all meshed together, each time dragging at least a bit of the previous not-well-learned lesson.
We’ve got to the point where you expect me to wrap it all up and tell you how I finally got my life together again. But as I said, this is not a heartbreak story. There is no happy ending or resolution. Just realization. Being able to admit to oneself and others that maybe, your behavior isn’t quite right. That maybe you’re not feeling well. And that maybe you never will. But maybe that’s okay. Maybe that’s how everyone feels. Maybe we all just go around our lives pretending there’s no void while hopelessly trying to cover it.