The first chance to pretend I’m okay
It’s been two months. Two months I’ve spent trying to get over the breakup and over him. Mildly unsuccessfully. I now have the power of knowing he wasn’t right for me, but I still miss him. Now I have to see him.
I walk into the party and he’s already there. He’s as cute as I had tried to forget. Damn. I generally avoid him at first but there are only 3 other people there at the moment. I stick to the plan to act friendly but not like friends. I manage brief eye contact during a group conversation.
As the party wears on, I’m so focused on trying to act my fabulous self and mask my inner pain that I soon forget that I’m incredibly mad at him for how we ended things. I hear his hearty laugh for the first time in two months outside of my own memories. My heart sinks. I wish it were me making him laugh. I hope he thinks the same about me when me later give as hearty a chuckle.
Despite my furious curiosity, I try to hear as little of what he’s talking about as possible. Any moment where I can potentially hear about his life without me is one I avoid and turn my ears off to. What does catch my attention are all the mannerisms that attracted me to him in the first place. Some of the reasons why I love him that are hard to erase because they’re mostly intangible start to float to the surface. The imagined illusion (or delusion, I guess) that I was only missing a boyfriend and not specifically him is shattered.
I’m enjoying myself and the polite chatter we’re both engaging in. I even crack a few of my usual jokes at him. The three second held eye contact during one of them is the longest moment of the party. I begin to wonder if I should go back to hanging out with him. Maybe it would replace the fact that I see him only as boyfriend-him with seeing him as friend-him. Then I could move on from wanting to be a relationship with him and still have him in my life as a friend I enjoy being around. I slap myself in my imagination. I know it’s only because I hope he’ll fall back in love with me. I later punch myself in my imagination for forgetting that he doesn’t deserve my friendship after how he treated me.
“I’m dying to know if it’s killing him as much as it’s killing me” à la the Taylor Swift song I played this morning to prep myself. I hope that he’s pretending as much as I am. That he’s having a conversation with someone else because he can’t bare to talk with me because of how much it hurts. And not because he’s fine without me. Not because he’s happier talking to Kyle than he ever was talking to me. I snap out of it and try to jump back into conversation. No lulls, I tell myself. I have to be constantly fantastic and not waver on my “I’m okay” act. At least for now. I brush the hair out of my dressed-up face and smooth out the wrinkles on my dressed-up body. This is as cute as I normally dress, but I feel foolish for trying to get him to eat his heart out. “Argh sexual politics!” I quote to myself. Later, I imagine how cute he would’ve told me I looked if I were still with him. Scratch that — if he were still with me. I imagine he’s dying to tell me how cute I am. I imagine he’s just as devastated at how cute I look as I was with how cute he looked.
I leave the party right on time as per how long I planned to let myself stay. Luckily, I predicted well and didn’t have to leave the party while a whole lot of fun was going on. I exit the party with my fabulously dressed-up head held high. But the more steps I take away from him again, the more my heart sinks. I wonder if I’ll ever see him again. I go home and immediately jump into the activities with my roommate that we pre-planned to do post-brunch. I don’t want to sink into the blackhole of “Was he just pretending like I was, or is he really already over me.” I get bubble tea. I pass his old summer apartment where our relationship bloomed. I walk around the park. I pass the place he used to bring me to get ice cream. I go home and watch a movie I’ve been dying to rewatch. I remember how I was supposed to rewatch this movie with him. I try to cling onto the fact that he watched it without me because he was inconsiderate. I push away my previous cover up that it was “just a movie.” No, I tell myself, it was more. All day post-brunch I’ve felt like bawling but I couldn’t muster enough tears. I wonder if I’m now dead inside. I know it’ll come eventually and tell myself to enjoy what contented feeling I have now.
When I crawl into bed that night, after an incredibly fun but incredibly painful day, I try to assess how I feel. I almost cry at the almost break up scene during Jane The Virgin. The real cry I have during the scene where they work things out is a pretty obvious sign of how I feel. I replay the party in my head still with no tears. And as tradition with every night, I involuntarily replay the break up. Now tears are flowing and I’m trying not to audibly wail. I know the feelings of missing him are strong, but the feelings of being hurt are clearly worse. I take the memories from the party and put them in the box with the rest of the memories I need to put away for now. On top of that box is a much heavier box that remains open: fresher memories of the hurt, the broken trust, the heartbreak. Even as I cry about how much he hurt me, a glimpse of his smiling face creeps in. I now realize how foolish I was for wanting to see him at the party, even though I was dreading it at the same time. I guess I thought it would fill the space in my heart that misses him, but now another wave of missing him is crashing down on me. Feelings for him are fresh and, now, so are the wounds.