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Moving On is Like Rehab — Human Parts — Medium

October 3, 2014

“’Tis better to have loved and lost than never loved at all.” For a long time after you lose her, you wish Tennyson never lived. You remember how simple your life was before she swept into it like a tsunami, washing away your doubts and your loneliness and your fears and becoming a part of every breath you took.

You remember a time when you could breathe without thinking of her and feeling utter, abysmal hopelessness at how long ago it was.

And it doesn’t help that you huddle in a fetal ball, knees to chest, surrounded by the broken pieces of the fragile tower that was you, and can’t do something as basic as distinguish the pieces she didn’t touch from the ones she did.

You can’t even really tell if they’re all there. You can’t remember giving parts of yourself to her because you were stupid and drunk and a fog of bliss had curled into every corner of your head like a heroin high.

You were addicted to being half of something. And like an addict you let everything else go. You let friends slide, forgot your towering aspirations, stopped treating people like a decent fucking human being because all that mattered was your supply of contentment and comfort and love. All that mattered was your hit.

And now you’re realizing it. That’s what moving on is.


You need to learn how to breathe again, how to wean yourself off your attachment. You need to wade into her, into the ankle-deep pool of what’s left of the wave she was. You need to stare at your reflection in water that’s damn near toxic, and wonder who the fuck you were.

You need to want to find out.

You need to roll up your sleeves, grit your teeth, and start sifting. You need to pull each piece from the water and stare at it. You need to rub at it with your sleeve, scrape off the color of her hair, purge the taste of her mouth, delete the freckles you traced like a map. Some pieces are parts of you that are too entwined with her, and they require amputation. You need to wrestle forgotten, whispered, shameful parts of yourself into doors in your head, draw them shut, and triple-lock them away. You need to forget the keys, snap them in half, and throw them to the wind.

You need to draw blood. You need to leech her from yourself. You need to sit and listen as people who took your self-absorbed puppy dog shit for years tell you exactly how you fucked up. You need to agree, see yourself through their eyes, bathe in their contempt, drink it in, let it fuel you. You need to involve your ego.

You need to acknowledge you’re pathetic.

You need to consign yourself to misery. You need to be willing to let it flood into you, replace every part of her. You need to polish yourself like you’d polish a diamond.





You need to shoulder the blame. All of it. You need to acknowledge youended it. That your misery is a fortress, a prison, of your own making.

You need to be savage and angry and so hard on yourself that you start hating your own reflection. You need to burn into the core of who you are and cut her out of you with a knife that glows with more than the orange flame of loneliness or the blue jet of despair. You need to mutilate the person you were with the white heat of hatred.

You need to admit you’re broken and halved and made of a swirling cloud of fear and loneliness and anger and impotence. You need to believe, deep down, that all you’ll ever be is a parenthesis.

You need to throw the man you were into the deepest pit, the most soulless abyss you can find, one you’re sure he — you — can’t climb out of.

You need to go cold turkey.

And when you believe it, and when you accept it, and when you’ve bled an ocean and you’re sure that no part of her remains because you’ve burned at both ends until you’ve met in the middle of a pile of ash, you’ll find peace.

You’ll sit, slump-shouldered and hollow, content in your emptiness. You’ll realize all the pieces are accounted for, somehow; some she took with her because you let them go. Some you fit together into a passing version of yourself. Some you burned.

And in the quietest corner of your head, the one least torn apart by the storm, there will be a knock. Nothing loud, nothing you won’t brush off as a phantom echo of another time, a remnant of the man who lived in your head for however-long-it-was.

You will fixate on your feet. You’ll shuffle along, step-by-step, day-by-day, hour-by-hour. You’ll want to talk to her and you’ll talk to a friend instead. You’ll want to say good night to someone so you’ll pick up the phone and text your mom. You’ll be so used to glaring at yourself in the mirror that you won’t see any change.

You won’t even realize it’s been a week since you saw her.

You won’t even realize it’s been three days since you last made contact.

You won’t even realize that after all your wallowing and crying and bitching and gnashing your teeth and self-mutilation, you’ve stumbled onto something resembling a quiet dignity.

And there will be another knock.

You won’t even realize you’re more open with your friends than you’ve ever been.

You won’t realize that the silence you hear now isn’t because you’re dead inside. It’s because deep down, the part of you to which you brutally took a machete, to which you applied a cleansing fire, has finally, finally stopped screaming.

And there will be another knock.

And this time you’ll trudge toward the last locked door in your head, not realizing you feel lighter on your feet than you have in years, not realizing you’re deadlifting two plates per side again, not realizing you’ve finally stopped eating Doritos, not realizing you stop to pet dogs again, not realizing you smile more easily and move more naturally and laugh more happily, not realizing that life finally has colors.

And you’ll open the door.

And you’ll see that you made it out of the pit. You crawled back up, inch by inch. You’ll put down the machete and its heat will finally cool. You’ll reach out, wondering if it’s even real. Wondering if you’ll feel fingers on your own, or if it will vanish the way all good things do when we try too hard to understand them.

You’ll realize that you’re not wistful anymore. You’ll realize that when you walk past the place you first kissed her, the smile on your face is gentle and respectful and peaceful. You’ll realize that when you walk past the place where you broke her heart, the look in your eye isn’t haunted and regretful and pained.

You’ll realize she’s receding, that she was receding all along as your feet kept carrying you and you kept your head down. She was receding as you ignored the howling wind and tried to attain some small shard, one tiny sliver, of grace.

And then you’ll cry because what’s beneath your fingers isn’t hot or angry or spiteful or contemptuous or hollow or cracked or ethereal.

You’ll cry because all you’re touching is glass. After blurring the line between hatred and honesty and contempt and hope, you’re just looking at a reflection.

One intact reflection, whose smile curls up from a corner of his lips in a way you’d stopped doing when the consequences of your choices settled on your shoulders. A reflection whose eyes sparkle with the patience and impish good humor that had been siphoned from you over those weeks and months of forgetting who you were. You see a reflection whose shoulders no longer slump, a reflection who’s remembered how to give without getting and how to be a friend again.

You’ll cry because in his chest — in your chest — for the first time since you can remember, you can hear a heartbeat. A single, whole, quiet heartbeat.

That’s what moving on is.

The realization, the flash of summer sunlight, the moment of impossible, blessed, sacred clarity in which you irrevocably understand.

You gave her your heart.

And now, it’s come back to you again.

via Moving On is Like Rehab — Human Parts — Medium.


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