You read article after article, hoping that salvation comes in the form of a listicle describing how to get over him. Essays and television imprint the notion that someone new has to walk into your life, someone to wipe away the scent of h im from your bed sheets; to override your room and memories. They tell you a rebound is the answer to your heartache.
A first you fight it, saying how you don’t need a new guy to erase the your old love, that you can live with the pain of rejection and learn to move on. You don’t really want him gone from you memories, you just want it to stop hurting. Humans can rewrite their heart, right?
However one day it won’t be enough. One day you’ll see a photo from your weekend road trip to Dallas or that magical night in the bar when life was perfect and the world made sense. One day you’ll casually witness a video of him drinking in the city where he broke your heart and you’ll hate the fact that he had the opportunity to paint over that memory, while for you that city will continue to reek of a dying love until you can return and make amends. One day you won’t be able to handle how lonely you feel and the crack in your heart will shake as if it grew just a little bit more, a little bit deeper. And your heart will feel just a little bit less.
Then you’ll resolve to forget him, like you do every night, but this night is different: you suddenly vow that you’ll give in and sleep with someone new. After all, everyone’s told you that a rebound is the answer.
All your girlfriends clap their hands and cheer. They’re going to get their girl back again, all carefree and open to Friday nights n ot sulking indoors. You force a smile and say how much fun you guys will have, deep down trying to ignore the nagging feeling that you really d on’t want a rebound. But you also know you have to get over him. He has moved on and you are already a vague, disappearing memory. You are just the girl he dated and wishes he hadn’t now. No amount of affection you have for him will ever change the coming months for you two; he is not your future anymore.
With your best girl by your side, you cross the threshold and brave the bar. Your heart’s tempo increases as you survey the room, inwardly trying to talk yourself into wanting this. This is what all 20-something year olds do, what they’re supposed to dive in for when their hearts are lonely and broken. So why can’t you want this?
But when you start to voice your doubts, they tell you someone new is the only solution; you will never truly move on ’till you are under a new man.
You know this isn’t the girl you are, and your ex would shake his head if he saw the women you are choosing to become, but your friends treat men as candy, a love to savor and throw away when used. And they remind you that’s how it needs to be, just one piece one bite for you to forget about him.
This may not be the girl he fell in love with, but he also fell out of love with that girl, too.
Countless drinks later, when the pull of a guy much more built and handsome than your ex draws you in, you follow. You notice how he talks to you, when he touches the small of your back, and how many freckles he has. He used to touch me like that; his hands were always more soft and gentle than this; he never had freckles on his face. The thoughts of comparison rush into your head before you can stop them. More accurately, they press forward through the crowd of thoughts clouding your head. Alcohol has cleared the majority of them away but your ex is always on your mind, as he usually is. You learn that even in a bar on the hunt for a rebound to take away the hurt, alcohol can’t fully clear him from your head because he’s still in your heart.
But you still try to shove those thoughts aside and instead reach for the stranger’s hand to start some flirting no matter how wrong it feels. You know this isn’t who should be touching you. Your girlfriend sees you by the bar giggling with what is soon to be your rebound, and keeps all other men away. This is how she plans for you to move on. What she doesn’t know, however, is that you love too deeply to move on from using any man as a tool. But you continue trying anyways.
After all, they tell you a little one night stand never hurt anyone.
As the night draws to a close and your drunk self stumbles out the door, you forget you’re too intoxicated to say that you don’t really want to sleep with this foreign man (who seems to have the reading level of a 5th grader and the biceps of John Cena), but you remember how much hurt your ex gives you, so you proceed with the night. There’s a tugging feeling that you should really step in and say no, how you don’t actually want this, how if it’s not the love of your life you’d rather not. Not now at the very least.
The pain is still too fresh in your heart for this to happen.
But you don’t speak up. Partly because you feel it’s too late to say something you’re already in your bedroom and partly because you still believe this could do it, this could actually be the ship to carry you to shore. The possibility of not drowning in your silent heartache, which you’ve managed to cover up by spontaneous splurgings and tattoos, is enough for you to bite your tongue and close your eyes. Every kiss may feel wrong and every touch may feel off, but you know you have to forget how right it all felt with your ex in order to be present and savor this moment.
All you have to do is bear down and suck it up, this can be over soon. Then, freedom.
This is what they tell you.