I’m going through a break up right now, and it’s not with a person but with an entire phase of life. Grief wafts over my my thoughts, this heavy cloud that casts all of my memories a shade darker now. Endings either splice together a “best of” highlight reel for nostalgia or cause this awful wave of reruns where I search for where I went wrong– a detective hunting down the moments where I was clearly at fault. But things just happen, and we assign meaning when it presents itself. The human impulse to make things matter, to not just be a victim of circumstance but a protagonist along a larger narrative is how we survive. This is how we move forward. It is a beautiful thing about the human species, really.
So, what do I do with this heavy head of mine? In six days, I was in a car accident, suffered panic attacked, fought with my best friend, and then yesterday, the break up. Life can be a bitch. But my existence isn’t. I am healthy, able-bodied, living in the developed world as a cis white woman. There will be more opportunities ahead. I just can’t quite see them right now.
What does it look like to do more than merely cope? To build from the rubble of failed circumstances? Because I don’t just want to march forward like I’m fine, carrying the mass of blunted hope. I want to make it into utensils for later endeavors. That feels like too much to do right now. Motivation is still out of reach. But I don’t have the luxury of stopping.
Last May, I was broken up with over text on a Thursday morning. This particular morning fell on the same date as a very important work meeting at the job I started that very week. I couldn’t cry or process or mull through my feelings. I had to perform. One foot in front of the other, I survived the day. I couldn’t take time off. The teary-eye withdrawals fell on nights and weekends. Rejection is always inconvenient.
The messenger of this present situation had the decency to deliver it in person. “Do you have any questions?” he asked. I shook my head. I barricaded the tears in my throat, knowing that when I opened my mouth, my eyes would release them. When I tried to thank him, the words fell out clumsily, and the attempts to control my tears left my voice shaky as each word toppled out. Then came the tears. Fuck! I was so close to getting out with composure, but I didn’t and I couldn’t. My face softened into a mop of tears and snot on my walk home. The eight minutes from the coffee shop to my apartment stretched on for eternity. “Breathe,” I told myself. Consciously, my nostrils widened and my stomach expanded, welcoming oxygen all the way to my diaphragm. I didn’t care if I ran into anyone. I just needed to get home. It didn’t matter how. Amidst the sobs, I thanked the earth for the sunny day in February where at least it didn’t hurt to breathe. It wasn’t intolerably cold. At least there’s that.
There have been days worse than yesterday. Like every other person, there were days that I thought would kill me, but they didn’t. And then, I was forced to keep living, to keep going when I thought somehow I’d be afforded a moment to pause. That moment never comes. People our emotions believe we can’t live without leave or die or hurt us. Places change or disappear. The constants aren’t that constant. And still, the world keeps turning, and here I am reeling while somebody else got engaged or bought a house or is in Bali. And I’m crying on my couch. Great! Robert Frost’s summation of life was right, “it goes on”. So must I. I don’t know how, reader. Not because I feel hopeless, but because I’ve wandered in so many different directions that all led to dead ends. I’ve heard “no” so many times, I confuse it with my name sometimes. But all it takes is one “yes” to change a life, one flickering opportunity to drown out all the nos predating it. The only way to get to that yes is to keep going, to stubbornly cling to the belief that there is a yes for me in the looming future. To paraphrase Cheryl Strayed. My yes has a birthday, I don’t know what that is yet.