You thought that the car you were in was going 10 miles an hour and you thought you could jump out safely while it was moving. You thought you were going slow enough to open the door and fall gracefully onto the pavement with a scraped knee and a story to tell. You thought you were going to be fine because your mother taught you how to be when the clouds rolled in and the world got dark.
But you weren’t. You were going too fast.
You opened the door and skidded helplessly onto the pavement. You can’t breathe. You can’t speak. You can’t see. Your ears are ringing. The world is a palette of grey. It’s cold. Eerie. Like you’ve been robbed. Someone broke into your home, rifled through your underwear drawer, took your most valued possessions, and left.
Plain and simple: you’re hurt like you’ve never been hurt before. Your sense of security is shattered. Your pride is spent. Your corner of the universe no longer belongs to you. Hell if you let anyone know any of that, though. You’re my daughter, after all.
I’ve always told you to pick yourself up and dust yourself off when you fall. I’ve told you to look for yourself in places you’d never imagine yourself to be hiding. In the pages of books you’d never pick from a stack, in the stories of others with whom you’d never think of holding a conversation. I’ve told you that you can’t find yourself standing in front of a mirror. I’ve told you to eat dinner alone. Travel alone. Buy yourself flowers. I’ve told you to follow your bliss at all costs. I’ve told you to build your world colorful and alive and to build yourself strong. But right now, you don’t feel so strong and your world doesn’t look so vibrant.
You don’t feel like you belong to yourself. You’re ashamed that instead of studying for that huge test, you’re studying the months you spent with him, building a mental map of your perceived crimes that would rival that of the FBI. You make puzzles in your brain, but instead of a puzzle of your next road trip, it’s a puzzle of everything you think you’re not. Everything you think is wrong with you. Every wrong word you’ve ever uttered and every physical flaw you think you have. Everything you think you could’ve been to make him stay.
Despite all of this, you still tell yourself that you’re okay. “I’m fine. I’m fine. I’m fine,” you repeat to yourself. You battle your emotions from manifesting into tears and wage war against your thoughts because the woman you are in this moment is the woman you’ve fought tooth and nail against becoming your whole life.
You want to sit down with a cup of tea and turn on a movie without wanting him next to you. You want to go to the art museum and look at your favorite Renoir without thinking about his face. You want to read a book without him crossing your mind. You want yourself back and you want him gone. You don’t want anyone to know you just jumped from a car going 80 miles an hour. You want them to think you fell out gracefully while waving a careless goodbye down the road and readjusting your pearls. Because you’re strong. Your world is yours. You are yours.
Let yourself be human. Let yourself feel. Let yourself talk about him angrily to your friends on repeat. Drink some wine. Drink more wine. Eat a pint of ice cream. Cry yourself to sleep in your best friend’s bed while she silently holds you. Be a cliché. Put down the Sarte. Pick up a Danielle Steele.
The only way to get yourself back is to open your floodgates. Let him be a part of your story. Let him cross your mind. Let the way he made you challenge the way you thought about yourself stay with you. Let yourself be uncomfortable knowing that someone in the world knows you so deeply. Come to know who you become when you are at your utmost vulnerable. Make peace with the ugliness you never knew existed inside of you. Come to terms with your flaws. Let yourself know what it truly feels like to have your heart broken. Know its darkness. Know its stinging pain. Listen to it. Make it your own. See the world through its lens.
You’ll never be the same after this. Every now and then, a song will start to play or a car will pass you on the side of the road and you’ll see his face in your head. But you won’t feel hatred and it won’t be heavy. He’s just a paragraph that makes your story a little more complex. In the meantime, crawl into your bed, turn on angry music, and feel. If I’ve taught you anything, I hope it’s to feel with all your might.
P.S. He wasn’t that great anyways.