Breakups often dictate the way you feel about your ex. There are the loud, messy ones, like the time you called it quits on the shores of Boracay. Before he walked away, he yelled, “You’re never gonna find someone like me!” (Yes, sweets, that was the point.) Some breakups are caused by a third party.
Others end quietly, but just as painfully. You grew in different directions, you fell out of love, it just wasn’t meant to be.
There will be lots of tears and tequila, and you will be a lot of bitter before you get better.
The 5 stages of grief should be rewritten to include new ones, like the stage where you try to be friends. Your mom calls this The Long Goodbye–that period where you have dinner, talk about mutual friends, share anecdotes from family reunions… Then get creative with chocolate syrup at night.
Another one involves social media spaces. Facebook is evil. Seeing his name and/or face on your screen will either piss you off or make you sad, so you delete him, your mutual friends, and his relatives from your news feeds (shit, that’s about 1/3 of your Friends list). You delete profile pictures with him and hide albums of your Christmases and New Year’s Eves with his family. You throw a tantrum when your girlfriends have pictures with him, because they’re supposed to be on YOUR side. (Months from now you will regret this heightened level of immaturity.)
Real life is a bit trickier. When you know he’ll be in the same area, you make an effort to look GREAT, so that if you run into him, he’ll see you in your royal blue maxi dress and bronzed shoulders, and think, “Damn, why did I ever let her go?”
But of course, this only happens in your head. Instead, you see him right after you walk out of the yoga studio with your face splotchy from all the downward dogs and shoulder stands, on the day you wore your most faded pants and the Nike shirt he gave you on your third anniversary. Fuck.
You do damage control if you’ll be in the same party. You will change AT LEAST 15 times… Only to go back to the first outfit you tried on. Once you see him, you don’t know whether to hug or kiss him on the cheek and which side to kiss, so you end up almost planting your lips on his. Again, fuck.
Soon, you start to heal. You begin dating and sleeping with other people to seal the fissures that formed across your chest. You go out with his former teammate, your high school sweetheart, and his 5th cousin. They’re everything he wasn’t; they thought you were funny and made you feel appreciated. You forget why you and your ex were even together in the first place, how he swept you off your feet, and how you lasted half a decade.
Then something will trigger a breakdown: a song (e.g., “6, 8, 12” by Brian McKnight), a scent (e.g., Bvlgari Extreme), a dish (American Dream from Omakase), or dinner with his sister (WHAT WERE YOU THINKING??? …GURL, YOU WEREN’T THINKING!). After months of staying away from his Facebook page, the masochist, crazy version of yourself clicks his name. You look at wall post after wall post, asking yourself if he’s seeing any of those
sluts girls. Your tear ducts give way when you click his photos, and you see him happy, with his arms around people you don’t know. WHY THE HELL IS HE HAPPY? YOU GUYS AREN’T TOGETHER ANYMORE, HE SHOULD BE FREAKIN’ MISERABLE!
(It is often difficult to determine whether it’s your heart or ego that hurts more.)
And you remember. Your relationship wasn’t one big, glorious memory, but a million little ones:
That evening when you came home after a long day of school and rehearsals and found a kitchen counter full of Ruffles Cheddar and Sour Cream, Nutella, and granola bars as a reminder to stay healthy;
That day when your best friend left for America and he held you as you bawled until his shirt was soaked with your tears and snot;
And that Sunday afternoon when you did your groceries for his party and he draped his arm around your shoulders between coriander and cumin and said, “We’re going to be doing this every Sunday, babe.”
You guys broke up three weeks later. LIAR.
You will be momentarily possessed. You send him a private message saying hi, how are you, wow we haven’t talked in a long time huh!, hope all is well, take care! Curt, formal, awkward. It turns out he’s online, so he messages you. You are surprised because you had already deleted him on Skype, Yahoo! Messenger, and BBM.
Somewhere between catching up and finding an excuse to end the conversation, you type, “I’m not over you. I miss you.” and press enter. Your eyes widen and your heart goes boom badoom doom bass but not with the kind of of sass Nicki Minaj has. After about 10 minutes (okay, it was really just 1 minute), the words pop up from his end: “I’m sorry if this makes me sound like a douche, but I’m over you. When I found out through Facebook that you were dating my former teammate, you gave me no choice but to move on. Then I saw pictures of you and my cousin kissing” (HEY, 5TH COUSIN NAMAN KASI) “and that was it for me.”
You reply that it’s okay, you understand. You insert smiley faces just to reassure him that it’s cool.
The next evening you are in your girlfriend’s house with bottles of wine. “He’s over me,” you repeat, still stunned. She places a plate of pesto pasta in front of you that she made with lots of basil and love. “You needed to hear that,” she says. “Now, we can let go and move on for real.”
We. She used the plural form. You are reminded that you’re not alone, and you never will be.
After consuming a bottle of wine, you pass out on her floor, wake up just before dawn and manage to drive home.
Tomorrow, it will hurt less. And the day after that. And the day after that. The cracks in your chest are but spaces for light to enter. When you stop seeing the possibility of recovering the lost love, you will begin to see love in other forms: discovering new hobbies, creating new circles of friends, and exploring places you’d always wanted to visit. You will feel your heart regenerate.
Ex-, after all, is a prefix to mean “former state.” This is the present. Don’t screw it up.