You know how I get through heartbreak?
Easier each time and each time more brutal.
Because after every heartbreak I end up investing in myself with a healthy dose of forced optimism. But not only myself, also in my closest, and most valuable relationships.
After I broke up with my first real long-term boyfriend (we were together for 6 years, from when I was 17 to 23) I had no idea who I was without him at my side. I was totally lost, but not angry. I was just curious and a little empty. Now that I think of it, the whole situation reminds me of the first season of Master of None, when Aziz Ansari’s character Dev breaks up with Rachel. Things were just gradually getting more and more nasty and all I could do is just try to find myself.
So, because I no longer had to pay rent and my parents took pity on me, I saved a ton’o’cash and took off to travel around Europe for 3 months. I made a shit ton of mistakes at the very get-go and spent the rest of the trip trying to pick myself back up, swaying between going home early or pushing through till my actual booked return trip.
And you know what? Parts of it sucked. I wasn’t used to taking care of myself. That’s the shit truth of it.
I had relied on my ex to pick me up when I was drunk or sad or lonely and had no idea how to get through those feels on my own, and to do it then without my family or friends? UGH. Brutal. Nights and mornings crying in a hostel bed quietly so that no other strangers would hear you, sneaking away to shower so nobody could see your puffy eyes (not that they would care)… I was that person for like, a good week. And then some. BUT I still went out. I forced myself to go because I knew that real life would hit me sooner rather than later and I was privileged enough to be in goddamn EUROPE. I WAS HERE. I had fucked up a little and made life a little more unsure for myself, but I was here and I was going to goddamn take things in, if only so that I could write about/enjoy them later, in hindsight. (I did. I paraglided in the fucking French Alps, hey.)
Also, I was there to try to figure out if I could… be away. I had been pussy-footing around the idea of moving out and away from my family since the end of high school when I had promised everyone to go SO far away for uni. Surprise, surprise, I ended up going about 30km away, and then switching universities after my first year (variety of reasons, both academic and personal) and moving back home for the rest of my undergrad.
Truth backhanded me like a MOTHER when I went to travel for 3 months. I didn’t like being away. I LOVED travelling. Still do and go every chance I get. But it was exhausting being away for so long by yourself and having no one person to share it with. I made so many friends while I was there and met up with them intermittently throughout the rest of the trip, but it wasn’t family. It wasn’t my best friends that I had known since grade 6, listening to me cry over Skype. It wasn’t these new drunken compatriots who were counting down my return date. It wasn’t them that wrote me emails (who writes emails anymore) about how it’s okay to make mistakes and how they miss bitching to me about life and choices and love.
It was my people. My friends were my fucking people. I had somehow managed to find these beautiful, fiery, curious, hungry souls and cull them into a circle of folks that are like the most fabulous army of support I’ve ever seen or heard about (ain’t nobody messin’ with my clique, etc). When I’m with them, any combination or number or just one of em? God, it’s like my nerve endings are just bathed in positive karmic vitamins, even if my stomach is being bathed in Korean bbq way past dinnertime or my ears are being assaulted by a Beyoncé dance party or someone’s actually just yelling at me for being a diva (all things these fools do with me/to me). #yoga #karma #essence #millennial
And god knows, I love my travel buds. I have met up with more than a couple in the years since, bless. But it was by being away that I found the true treasure that had been waiting at home for me. I thought I couldn’t possibly agree with my family. I thought this life, here, Toronto, couldn’t satisfy me. I was bored, and yes, kind of angry at that point, and lost.
You know what I learned? I was being superficial. I was being greedy and unrealistic and dismissive of the blessings that were already provided for me – not to the extent that many people are, but I was nevertheless. I don’t get off the hook that easy, and I thought that this sort of realization was so cliché that it had to, at least, be hard-earned.
I wasn’t appreciating the friends that told me when I was being a shitty human being and making the same stupid mistakes, and letting me cry on their shoulders after I had bad dates, and going with me to art shows and coming to my poetry readings and baking me cookies and cakes when I was sick. I wasn’t appreciating my family – my weirdly non-traditional, open-minded, liberal (in their considerable conservativeness), supportive, hopeful, space-giving, food-making, straight-talking family.
The family that will accept those whom I claim to love without a second thought, simply because I love them. The family that will invite anyone, from any culture or opinion or religion, to our Easters and Christmases and Thanksgivings and birthdays. The family that will pick me up and up and up over again without complaint. The family that will tear open their own beliefs to welcome yours in. The family that will sit with me in the front hall and break down my love. The family that will sit on my bed and break down to me. The family where vulnerability is and forever will be strength and openness is a virtue. Where trust and honesty and being a good person trumps any paper or cross or book you can hand over about who you claim to be. The family where you can be flawed and fucked up and that just makes you more beautiful and more bearable and more ours.
So maybe I’m still being entitled.
Yes, love. Love, I want you. But I already have you, too.
So this? This heartbreak isn’t so bad. It’s only a bit. It’s only a slice. It only took a little. I have the rest.
And he has so much less.