In the movies, it always works out. You meet the characters after their long search for love. A strategically placed ballad from a generation you weren’t born in plays during a montage where all the two lovebirds do is ride together on public transportation and eat ice cream. They share the same pair of headphones. They laugh in a way that makes them throw their heads back. All the signs are there. They’ve made it. The credits roll and as far as we know, they live happily ever after. And for roughly 97 minutes, we all start to believe again.
We start to believe for 97 minutes. Then the credits roll. And the magic disappears.
I’ve spent most of my life half-loving people. Keeping everyone at a reasonable distance. Enough to make them feel important, but not enough for it to hurt when it ends. I go through the motions. I say the right things at the right times. Life runs its course, we change, we part ways…and at least on my end…recovery is a breeze. I know it’s cold. But it’s how I survive.
And then one day, for no particular reason at all — except for maybe I got tired of not feeling anything — I changed my m.o. Some know the story — the short version, the one that lacks the color that the pages held is this: “Two people, looking to fall in love with life, fell in love with each other. They jumped from planes, they climbed mountains, they made promises, they cheered each other on. They were the best of the friends. But the world kept moving, the things they wanted started to pull in different directions and one day they no longer matched. The problem wasn’t love. That was the one thing that came easy. But that wasn’t enough.”
We broke up. Swearing we would return as friends. And to the public, we handled it so well. I can’t tell his story, because I wasn’t there. The only side I know is my own. And the days that followed saying a long-overdue goodbye to my best friend were painful…to say the least. I don’t share the broken parts of my world with the public, because honestly, it’s no one’s business but my own — but for the sake of relieving myself of this weight, I have to write it down. All I know is the moment it broke, I regretted everything. I wanted to take back every word, every adventure, delete the photos, erase him from my mind. That’s how pain talks. And as a human who had put off feeling for so long… I felt SO MUCH. Too much. And I regretted ever feeling at all.
This was why. This was why the walls were built. It hurt. And I didn’t want anyone to know how much it did. It was fine, it was just a boy, just another member of the planet passing through my existence. I lied to everyone. Especially myself. And I made a promise that I would keep to me — I was done. If this is what pain was. If this is what it felt like to lose a loved one…I was good. I didn’t need that. I was going to revert back to what I knew and that was being numb.
But that’s the thing, right? The rise is supposed to be worth the fall. The pain means you felt something at all. And I had travelled through my life half caring for YEARS. And for a person who prides herself on loving life, I was missing the entire point of it. We read the books, we watch the movies, we romanticize the world we live in because we WANT to feel. We NEED to feel. The only life worth living is one where we experience things. We live, we breathe, we feel, we taste — all of those things are what make our numbered days on the planet worth it. And if I choose to, I can be numb — but what a waste that would be.
So when dark days come, let them. When the sun is shining, feel its warmth on your face. Let the world consume you. Let yourself dance and laugh and fall in love. Let yourself grieve and cry and mourn. Let yourself feel — all of it. And for more than 97 minutes at a time, allow yourself to believe. We’re all stories in the end, anyways. Don’t make it a dull one.