There is no right way to do this; there is no real way to do this.
Let it begin slowly. Let there be a feeling of fleeting, one that you cannot nap, one that you cannot quite put your finger on. Lay in bed at night, flat on your back, with a hollow feeling in your heart, a dull ache in the recesses of your gut. Dismiss this as a product of bad eating habits, work-related stress or rather unemployment. This isn’t the feeling of love, because love cannot hurt.
Wake up in the middle of the night, the nights that you can sleep, unable to breathe. Count to ten, sit up, feel that hollowness resurfacing, your heart beat violently alive. This must be stress because love is a greater feeling. Check your bills. Have they been paid on time? Unearth receipts you’ve kept, tally them with objects you’ve returned. Check to see if your student loan is being paid, and for a lapse in payment. Check lists. Things to buy, things you’ve seen, people you still need to reach out to, those expecting a reply. Make lists of these lists. Make a bulleted list of how to fall asleep. Fall asleep.
Wake up feeling stuck, like everything is moving except you. Dread taking a shower because something about the hot water against your skin and this hollow in your core makes you want to claw out of your skin. Take a shower with cold water instead, and feel as though you may go into shock. Take fewer showers. Eat, or try to. All food tastes chalk-like, each mouthful a dry swallow. Forget coffee, forget water. You’re hungering for something, but it isn’t food.
Spend days aimlessly, fruitlessly. Do nothing that you should be doing; do nothing that you need to do. Wonder at 5:30 where your day went, regret your day by 9. Resolve to start tomorrow afresh, but this feeling won’t leave, it’ll linger, it’ll consume tomorrow and the day after and every day from then. Spend hours trying to identify this feeling, and dread the night, when all is still and soundless and you are alone with your thoughts to drive you mad. Feel like you are the only person in the world awake.
Feel your body shrivel under their fingers, your chest tightening. Sit up because you can’t breathe. Feel like you are in the presence of a stranger, not a lover. Be afraid to feel this presence of a stranger in the one you love. Don’t speak the truth. Don’t you dare do it. Don’t say what you mean, or how you feel, because in your mind you are protecting them, in your mind this isn’t ending. Find all the reasons not to kiss, hug, hold hands, touch, make love. Use all of them. Exhaust them. Make excuses of migraines, stomach pains, nausea. This last one is true. You are faint from nausea. See their face distort unrecognizable. This face you saw in your every dream is now so alien. Don’t accept that feeling that follows you. You know what it is now. It’s the end, but you won’t have it. Your love was meant to last. Your love is raw and expansive and consuming and true. This is your greatest love. You have been through the greatest and the worst. This love is not supposed to end. Fight acceptance. Lose your every desire for the person you love anyway. Let it show. Let it make them hurt. Lose all rational sense. Tell them you love them as you break apart their heart.
Do something destructive. Lie. Agonizing to them, excruciating for you. Be out of control, reckless, ruthless. Feel your eyes cold as you break them, the heart, piece by piece. No longer recognize yourself. Let the truth eat you up insides, but never say what you want, what you need from them. It’s too simple that way, remedial. Say I don’t love you anymore when you mean I love you more than anything. Say get out when you mean never leave me. Say I’m done when you mean I don’t know what I’ll do without you. Say I don’t need you when you mean I don’t mean any of this at all. Say I’m so bored when you mean I just need to tell you the truth. Throw something. Do all that you can do to make them despise you, though you’re most wrong about this: you cannot loathe someone you love, no matter how much hurt they cause you. Love is dangerous, and what a danger to entrust someone with your heart. Become the person they’ll never what to remember. Shout until you are drained and weak. Run away. Fear how unfeeling you’ve become and let this unfeeling swell and fester. Don’t say I just want to hold you and kiss and tell you that this is the end for us, for me, that I love you and forever will but this is the end for us, for me and this is the sweet goodbye we deserve.
End it with the same intensity as it began. Any other way is all too simple. And so far from when it ends, feel regret every day in the same place it once felt how. Regret not saying I will always love you the day you said goodbye to the person you love.