There is no handbook for first loves, and what to do when you lose them, but I will attempt to provide you with an outline of what to expect, should you find yourself in said situation:
1. At first, you will feel nothing. You will walk around, trapped inside of your mind with a cloud that follows you and suffocates you. It feels like a coma, where everyone keeps trying to talk to you, but you cannot process anything, let along utter any kind of communication. You will not have the energy to pick your clothes up off the floor or to even move a chair across the room. All you do is stare. And feel nothing.
2. In the days and weeks to follow will come with the searing pain that ripples throughout your chest and you’ll want to curl up and die. You’ll hug yourself because you’ll want to feel something again, but maybe it’s to hold the pieces of yourself together too. Everyone will either say they’re sorry, like they’ve passed away (and in a sense, they have), or else tell you it will get better, but you’ll have to forgive yourself for not believing them.
3. Then, you’ll purge your house, computer, and phone of every shred of them: photos, keepsakes, anything that holds even the smallest memory of them. It will hurt. You will cry. But waiting any longer will make it hurt even worse. (see part 4)
4. Next, and this is something you absolutely have to do, is to delete them off of everything, because you won’t do it yourself and one day you will realize that they’ve already done it for you, and that feeling will hurtle you backwards, past any progress you’ve made. Delete their number too, so that you aren’t staring at their contact screen late at night when you’re drunk and it hurts too much and all you want is to just hear their voice again.
5. Now, if you end up crossing paths with them again, you will have the breath sucked out of your lungs. Your heart will beat so fast that you’re certain it’s a heart attack, and looking at their face will wrap two thick hands around your throat. Someone you’ve known so intimately is suddenly a stranger, and it throws your heart and mind for a loop. I can’t tell you what it’s like to talk to them again, but I can tell you that never talking to them again is probably much worse. Everyone talks about how great it is to be dating your best friend, but nobody talks about the amount of pain that comes with losing both your best friend and significant other at once.
6. But (and I want you to know this right now), the days will slowly start to get better. I know it feels like dying right now, but the smallest things will start to coax you out of that state, and you’ll have to actively search for things to make you smile, because, oh God, you need to smile again.
7. Next, you will start to realize that you are getting better. That it doesn’t hurt as much. You will start to laugh again, and enjoy your walk home, and even start cooking real meals again.
8. And last, but not least, it’s not a one-way path to healing. Eventually, you won’t cry at the sound of their name, you’ll find yourself laughing at an old memory shared between you two, and you can finally listen to songs and tv shows that you two shared together. And just when you think you’re okay and you’ve moved on is when your mind will launch an ambush and attack you with waves of memories and smells and sounds, and you’ll find yourself sobbing at 1 am four, five, six months later, praying to God that they are doing alright because you still love them, dammit.
And you’ll wipe your tears, slip off into sleep, and in the morning, you’ll pick yourself up and take another step forward.
And eventually it will be okay. At least, that’s what I’m trying to believe each day.