It's an early morning in February.
It's still dark outside and your bedroom is ice cold. Your alarm is buzzing and you're cozy beneath your comforter, its warmth enveloping you and keeping you safe from zing of the hardwood floors. And then, it hits you: the heaviness. The tightness in your chest. The remembering: he's gone. It's over. Forever. You broke up.
Mornings are the worst. Mornings mean remembering. Mornings mean wrestling with the cameo he made in your dreams the night before: kissing him, laughing with him, being happy with him. Mornings remind you that you're no longer happy with him or with him at all, in fact.
Because it's over and he's gone.
You get up. You shuffle around your room. You pull out your clothes and his sweatshirt falls to the ground, as if even your closet knows it's over. Sweatshirt: rejected.
You cry as you pick it up, breathing him in, smelling his shaving cream and soap and him-ness. You sit cross legged on your bedroom floor and pull up his Instagram. You hold your breath, hoping there aren't photos of him with another girl. There aren't. Deep sigh. You scroll back a few weeks and see the picture of the two of you at brunch, so happy with your coffee and eggs and morning glow. What happened to us, you wonder as you torture yourself with more old photos. We were so happy. When did it change? Where did we go wrong?
These are the questions that haunt you as you go about your day. Your chest is tight and you hold back tears as you sit in meetings. Please don't cry, please don't cry. Someone says your name. They repeat it. What? you ask. And then you nod in agreement with whatever they said, knowing that, if you say anything more, your voice will crack and the tears will come.
You shuffle throughout the day, feeling like you're underwater the entire time, barely hearing or seeing the things around you. You try to eat, but you can't taste. Nothing sounds good. Nothing feels good. Nothing feels right without him.
Your friends text you to check in. How are you doing? they ask. You want to reply: Terribly. I can't eat. I can't think straight. I think I'm going to get fired. I can't breathe. Can you come get me at work and sit with me while I cry, but not make me talk, unless I want to talk about him? Can you just be a warm body near me so I'm not alone? But instead you reply: I'm OK. Pretty sad, but that's expected. You try to be strong.
I should have gotten an exit interview, you think as you sit in your next meeting. We should be able to talk through what went wrong, who made mistakes and how we could have done better. Why don't people get relationship exit interviews, you wonder as your coworker draws a diagram on the whiteboard. What is this meeting about? You check the notes in the calendar invite and try to focus.
But you can't focus. You can only think about him and what you were and what you've become.
You realize how absurd it is that, the person who knew you best - who knew exactly what your expressions meant, exactly what your tone of voice meant, exactly what you'd find funny and what you'd find offensive - is now gone.
The person who knew you best is now the person whom you're unable to contact in any form. This is crazy! you think. And then you get a little mad.
Mad is good, your mom tells you. Mad means you're processing it. Mad means you're moving beyond just aching and sad and, in fact, are gathering energy behind your emotions. Mad means you're beginning to move on, just a little bit.
Weeks pass and you vacillate between mad and sad and wanting to text him and annoyed when he texts you to check in. Your clothes are all a little too loose because nothing tastes good. Will food ever taste good again? you find yourself wondering. Will I ever laugh again and really mean it?
You worry that you'll never feel normal again. You worry you'll never be a good listener again because you're always thinking about him. You feel everything and, yet, feel completely numb.
You just want to feel like yourself again.
It's an early morning in April.
Light is beginning to peek through the dark sky and the birds are singing outside. Your alarm is buzzing and you're a little too warm beneath your heavy comforter. You swing your legs over and step onto the warm, wood floor. And then, it hits you: for the first morning, in a long time, you feel OK. You don't feel like crying.
You drive to work with the windows down, sipping coffee and singing along to the radio. You get to work and your coworker tells you that you like nice. Your boss comes to your desk and shows you a crazy email she got the night before from one of your clients. You both laugh and, as she walks away, you realize you really meant it when you laughed. Is that the first time I've laughed and meant it? you wonder as you try to think back over the last few weeks.
You start a new project at work. The day flies by and, as you watch the sunset take color on your drive home, you realize you didn't think about him today. Your friend texts you: How are you holding up? You smile because your friends have been your lifeline for the last few months. They have carried you and listened to you and sat with you. I'm good! How are you? You reply. And you mean it.
When you get home, you realize you're hungry. And, food actually sounds good. When was the last time food sounded good? you wonder.
You stand in your kitchen, chopping vegetables, listening to John Pardi, the warm spring breeze blowing across the room. You think about him for just a moment and feel a little sad at the thought of last spring, when you were so happy and grilled together on a warm April night. No, no, no! you want to say to the sadness. You were just starting to feel normal again. But then, after just a moment, the sadness passes. And you realize that the worst is over. Will you still miss him? Of course. He was a big part of your life. There will be hard days, especially as the seasons change. But, the every-single-day-can't-eat-can't-sleep-season has passed. Relief.