The point of no return

It feels inevitable that a breakup becomes a competition. Whoever loved the most loses. Whoever stays sadder for longer loses. Whoever moves on slowest loses.

It’s been 4 weeks and 5 days since we broke up. Yes I know exactly how much time has passed. I know exactly how many mornings I’ve woken up when it’s still dark outside, unable to stop thinking about exactly where it went wrong. As if unearthing that moment would somehow be the secret cure to my grief. I know exactly how many times I’ve passed near your cross streets and felt that formidable pull to look down your street. I know exactly how many times I thought I saw you in public, and exactly one time that I actually did see you. I know everything there is to know about our breakup statistics. Because it seems like that’s what a broken heart does best; cataloging. Cataloging and counting, wishing the days would pass faster. Time spent in sadness has a molasses quality, doesn’t it?

This weekend, for the first time since we broke up, I heard second-hand how you were doing. I had spent a month with no information about you, creating fiction in my head about your miraculous breakup recovery. A recovery much faster than mine, I was sure. In my story you were untethered and ecstatic to be free. I was just an annoying memory, soon to be replaced by another girl who you could lend your jackets to and spend foggy Sunday mornings with.

But my fiction was wildly inaccurate. You aren’t okay. You’re stumbling just like I am. You might even be more lonely than me. This surprised me, and gave me a guilty sense of relief. It must have been that nagging, knee-jerk need to “win”. My 33 days of slogging through emotional turmoil suddenly seemed justified. I felt less pathetic about my tradition of crying every Sunday morning when the weight of the wide open day was too much to hold. Maybe, just maybe, we were tied. But maybe it shouldn’t be a game at all.

I assumed that the longer I mourned, the more I fell behind. More tears meant less strength. Still caring about you meant I was “losing”. But none of that is true. We really only lose when we don’t allow ourselves to love. And I mean really love — that reckless, punched-in-the-stomach type of love. I realized that the despair I was feeling meant that I really fucking loved you. I hadn’t been swimming in the shallow end. Nope, I was in deep, and I’m done beating myself up about it. Caring a lot doesn’t signify weakness. In fact, it’s just the opposite. It means that I had enough courage to really let you in. You, an entirely unknown universe of emotions and experiences and risks. I let you in and held you furiously close to my heart, and I loved you as the unknown parts became known. I loved you past the point of no return.

So I’m done with the winning and losing. I’m done feeling foolish for having feelings, because it means I’m alive. My battered heart is still beating, and that is enough for right now.