Have you ever been hit by a glass bullet? It explodes on impact into a million tiny shards that each find their target, drawing blood from the exact point that they intended to. It’s cold, and you’d think it be quick. But it takes its time, each shard reminding you exactly how unworthy you are.
How could you ever been so sure that the emotion you saw behind those eyes was genuine? Was that love or self-service that you chanced to see? Do the people who choose to wield this weapon, to shoot this bullet, truly know its power? Are they oblivious or indifferent? Could they ever take the full force of its devastation upon themselves?
It’s a special kind of bullet. When it lodges in your ribs, it enforces doubt in your self-esteem, in your previously unshakeable values and principles, and even in your judgement. It changes you into a weak, sniveling creature, anxious for the tiny scraps of his love, lapping up at the leftovers of his attention that that he tosses towards you as if you’re a stray dog, while you still remain unsatisfied and hungry.
It makes you believe the lies he tells you without compunction. It makes you swallow the humiliation he enacts on you without remorse. It crushes your pride, your ego, and your presumption to believe that you ever existed outside of being a vessel for his validation.
What else, then, could be your purpose in life? Where are your own hands and feet to create and stand upon? Of course you exist at his beck and call. You call pain as love, acceptance as forgiveness, and submission as loyalty.
You remain stuck in the stolen moments of the past, unable to believe that someone who claimed to be so much in love with you could voluntarily pull this kind of trigger.
You are not strong enough to fight every shard. You are in too much pain to take out the pieces that dig into the soles of your feet, inhibiting your ability to walk away, because the fingers of your hands are equally afflicted. You fight the tears, because they hurt so much more than they help. Although it’s so much easier to let them flow, the salt stings each cut and wound, creating for you an excruciating agony.
And then there’s the blood. There’s the blood that is fountaining over your massacred heart, gushing over the impaled pores of your skin, spilling over the expensive shoes you bought as a hollow attempt to make yourself feel something. You get used to the sight of your own bloodbath, taking bullet after bullet as a voluntary human shield, because the first one left you so flattened. You start to think that this much blood is normal. This becomes your normal.
Until it goes too far. Until he takes it one step too far. Perhaps he tells you he loves you one night, and tells you that he has a girlfriend the next morning. Perhaps he follows up the statement of wanting to be with you, with the news that he will be moving in with this girl across the country. Perhaps he tells you that he plans for the two of you to be together in a year, when he’s had his “last fling.” Is it ever the “last fling”? Are you supposed to just wait around for a year? You’ve never been more confused in your life.
Perhaps you finally contrive to see him again, and cut your heart out to lay on the table in front of him. Perhaps you let him know, in no uncertain terms, that you will not be a part of his nonsense to live with someone else before coming back to you. Perhaps he claims to be in love with this new someone else, leaving you reeling in confusion, because love for you takes a lot more than a few nights of bars and cohesive guitar strumming followed by drunk or high sex.
You know your definitions. Love is called commitment and sacrifice.
Love is care, far beyond the care you have for yourself in order to be there for someone at the expense of yourself. Love is truly knowing and accepting someone, not colluding for four months to only show the best sides of your personality to each other. Love as you know it grows with time, rather than demanding you to move across the country after a few fucks and conversations. Love doesn’t fear your flaws or drop you when it sees a problem. Love isn’t selfish, insecure, or unnecessarily possessive.
Isn’t that called infatuation? Could he really be so shallow as to not know the difference? How can he dare to use that word so easily? Could he really not know what love is? Have you wasted your time? Have you overestimated him?
Perhaps it doesn’t stop there. Perhaps you are also forced to endure the insecurities of this someone else while you are forced into in the undeserved and shameful pseudo-role of his “crazy ex”/side-hoe. Perhaps you must deal with her equally nonsensical threats of “marking her territory” and “clawing your eyes out.” Focus, you tell yourself. She’s insignificant- you’re here for him. Bury the pain that he’s letting her do this to you. Forget the fact that he’s painted you as less important to him when talking to her, not telling her the whole truth. Or was he telling her the whole truth, after all? You’ll never know. Bury the pain that the man who used to anger at the smallest slight to you is now complicit in your humiliation.
Perhaps he assures you that nobody has ever known him like you do, and he doesn’t want to lose you. Perhaps you actually believe him again. And perhaps the next night, he messages you to completely invalidate everything you meant to him, choosing some four month fling over any history you’ve had. Perhaps you find that the heart you’ve trudged up the courage to lay at his feet has been kicked back to you like a pebble on the side of the road, with a note attached that this particular pebble should only belong in the garbage dumpster. You’re second place, you’re expendable, and you’re valueless, that note says. Whatever it is, it’s just too far. Bullet after bullet and lie after lie. Too many bullets and too many lies, and finally the pain goes to your head.
You’re dying, but you’re not dead yet. You’re falling, but it won’t be the fall that kills you. You need to stop the landing. You strengthen yourself with the unbearable pain, and embolden yourself with the devastating humiliation. You validate yourself with the sparkle of the glass sticking out of your organs from his final bullet, and trust yourself with the flow of the blood falling out of your pores.
You are better than this. You will conquer it.
Piece by piece, you pluck out the glass. The pain is worse than anything you’ve felt before, but you’re done letting these pieces stay inside of you. It is eight months of glass, and four years of pain. You’ve loved, cared, and invested for that long, despite it being different kinds of love at each point. And love is pain to you, remember? That’s the reality that you’ve allowed.
Not anymore. Now you need to change.
Each wound is carefully bandaged by your own ravaged and bleeding hands. You are your focus, and the thought is liberating. You won’t talk to him. You won’t listen to him. You won’t look at him. You won’t know him. He’s done. You make the effort every day to look forward- there are things to do, accomplishments to achieve, and a world to conquer. You slowly start remembering who you used to be, what you are capable of, and what you will be achieving. Life feels as though you’re living it again.
And of course he’s indecent enough to contact you again, asking you to come back running when he needs something, phrasing his questions by acknowledging that although he understands that you wouldn’t want to talk, he needs some support anyways. He’s asking you to climb out of the dumpster he threw you in so that you can come make him feel better about himself. That is, until he throws you back in the garbage when he has no need of you again. But now you know better than to react. He contacts you again to tell you about his pain at losing you. You feel for him, but ironically wonder what would happen to him if he ever read about your pain? Could he even look at himself in the mirror? You decide to test it out, and let your pain out into the universe.
You wonder if perhaps things aren’t working out for him as well as he intended them to with this new someone else. Are you then an afterthought, a recyclable human being, for him to finally remember after he’s finished with every other venture? It still stings, but now you refuse to let it hurt deeper.
He is no longer a part of your life, you repeat to yourself.
You know this is easier said than done, because there are some habits that just refuse to die. Of course you miss him. You poignantly miss the banter of an intellectual equal, before realizing how crudely this intellect was used in hurting you. You continuously miss the connection of an emotional equal, before remembering how easily disposable he found that connection to be. You miss the mornings, you miss the nights, and you miss every moment in between. But you stop yourself from drowning in stolen moments of the past again with the knowledge that he willingly and voluntarily has chosen to spend those moments with someone else who was for some reason, worth more. He chose moments with her over moments with you.
And if he could do that, you realize that perhaps those moments with you did not mean nearly as much to him. And you’re actually okay with that. Because you also realize that you are not defined by what you meant to him.
You are defined by what he meant to you. He doesn’t define you. You define you. It’s a choice. So, every day, every hour, and every minute, you choose to harden your heart against him and open it towards the world instead. You pick up the pieces that he left you in, and you never look back.