To my most painful and most powerful organ,
I’ve broken at least five bones. I’ve had needles inserted all over my upper body. I’ve been in the hospital. I’ve had almost every test in the book run on me. I’ve had an echocardiogram (the boob one) performed on me by a sort of cute male doctor on a day when I hadn’t brushed my teeth or showered in maybe a week, lying in a hospital bed. I’ve had med students jab my arm over and over again, desperately trying to locate my tiny baby veins, many of whom lack the gentleness of seasoned nurses. Once I stuck my finger through a fence to pet a dog and it latched on, tearing my skin off. I’ve been sick with a stomach bug away from home and from my mom, which is the ultimate pain. What I’m saying is, I’m no stranger to hurt.
But nothing I have ever experienced has hit me quite the way you do.
It’s almost fascinating, in a morbid way, to watch my own heartbreak happen. We all have that unsettling sliver of ourselves that loves the bad stuff. We have sick interests in the Holocaust so we read about it and watch documentaries. We read all the news stories about grisly murders. We watch ourselves cry. We stare at a car crash as we pass. We kind of revel in the negative.
But this heartbreak, it almost unfolds in slow motion. It’s an out-of-body experience. I see myself reaching for the toilet paper I use as tissues (which by the way is a horrible substitute), I see myself sink further and further into pure sadness. I watch myself hold in my pee so I don’t even have to get out of bed. I see myself desperately trying to think up something that could help me or change how I feel.
Some heartbreak comes from anger. But at least with that kind, you have something driving you. There are realizations that fuel your strength and aggression and hardness; they keep you going when your mind falters and your heart speaks up loud, a reminder that there are things inside of you other than anger, and those things hurt.
The worst kind of heartbreak, I would argue, is the kind where you have no anger to grasp onto. If you erase all the random pieces of your situation, all that’s left is a bone-deep, untouchable sadness. There is no other word, no pithy adjective, that I can come up with to encompass just what the word “sadness” does. It is the ultimate.
Isn’t it funny how one emotion can bowl us over so completely? How can something untouchable affect us so deeply? It’s not like a person walked up to us, slapped us across the face, and over the next week, our organs shut down or our skin slid off. Heartbreak rarely has a tangible component. Unless you count the person responsible for the breaking. I’m trying not to think about that part.
I know time will pass and things will get better, blah blah blah. I know. I don’t need to be reminded because there is literally nothing anyone can say to me that I haven’t already told myself. There will be a day, eventually, where I don’t wake up and immediately feel miserable. It isn’t that I doubt the existence of these heartbreak-recovery milestones, it’s that I resent the time between now and then so violently that I could scream.
I know there will be another person who will love me the way I love them, and who will take pictures with me and yell to the world about what a treasure I am. I will be appreciated again. I will find more joy. The butterflies, currently lying lethargic and malnourished in the bottom of my stomach, will start flitting around my insides again. I do not doubt any of these things either.
But for right now, I am sad. I am so sad I can’t even look in the mirror without tearing up. And I’m letting myself feel this despair because I am a big believer in feeling my feelings. I have no willpower whatsoever and putting my emotions and heartbreak into a box to be dealt with later would never, ever work for me. So I’m confining myself to my bedroom rather than go for a walk in the park and start crying when I see a rock we sat on once, scaring a child.
Right now, I’m letting you own me, Heartbreak. You are going to dictate a lot about my life for at least the next month. I’m saying this now to get it out there. You’re running the show.
At some point, I’m going to take control back. I’ll decide your reign has ended and I’ll pack you up, shove you into a corner with old clothes, old bookends, out-of-date pop culture board games, and whatever else gets put into an attic. I will be in charge of myself again. Don’t doubt that. For right now, I’m ceding control to you. But don’t expect that to last forever.