No one walks away from a breakup unscathed. No one walks away without bruises and scars.
We often hear about heartbreak from those mercilessly dumped by the “one” and left for dead on the side of the proverbial highway of love.
Their stories seem to be everywhere; there’s no lack of verbiage surrounding the disappointments of having your heart broken because someone didn’t want you anymore.
The same story is sung over and over like a bad Top 40 radio jam.
But what about the rest of us? What about the ones who actually do the breaking up? Where are our stories? We’re the ones who faced a serious dilemma, a crossroads in our lives and ultimately had to make a decision.
We’re the ones who’ve fallen out of love. We’re the villains of the tales of horror, the “Maleficents,” the dragons, the trolls.
But ours is a different type of tragedy. Falling out of love is no easy experience. We don’t do it on purpose, and we don’t control it.
Our hearts don’t always align with the visions we have for our lives; emotions aren’t always vessels of simple manipulation and, try as we might, we cannot make passionate love exist where it does not.
Though being broken up with might break your heart, doing the actual breaking just might be the hardest thing of all.
When it’s the beginning of the end.
The beginning of the end starts slowly, almost unnoticeably at first. Falling out of love is a gradual process; it builds like a snowball rolling down a hill. At first, it’s just a pang of the heart, a strange feeling of distance, like your partner is covered in a kind of film.
It’s like you aren’t there, like you’re simply a fading shadow. You don’t want to leave your partner’s arms, but you want nothing more than to be away from his or her arms either. You brush it off, tell yourself it’s nothing; it’s just a phase.
This is your love, the person you can’t live without, the one thing that will always remain constant in your life because your heart is wrapped, evermore, around his or hers.
But slowly, one by one, things begin to unravel. Days with them begin to feel like weeks. The sound of their voice eats at you like bacteria.
You find yourself spending more and more time alone.
Suddenly, you want your space. If you had your way, you’d have space for all eternity. Every moment you spend with your partner feels forced and unnatural, so you spend more time alone because it makes you feel less guilty.
If you don’t spend time with your partner, you don’t feel as sad — and when you do spend time with him or her, it’s when you feel loneliest.
You feel vacant, avoiding his or her eyes because you fear they’ll be able to see the emptiness, the fading love evaporating like dew on summer grass. It slips away so quickly that you try desperately to hold on.
The more time you spend reading books in crowded parks or wandering aimlessly through the free sections of museums, the longer you can stave off the complete vacancy of your once endless love.
You avoid your partner’s touch.
You’ve replaced a once burning passion — a fiery longing — with abstinence. Your partner’s flesh begins to be a source of repulsion for you. You can only bring yourself to be intimate while heavily intoxicated because only then can you bring down the walls you’ve unconsciously built.
You feel like an actor in your own life. Your romance is a bad stage performance, and you’re the lead.
When he or she goes to kiss you goodbye in the morning, you force yourself to kiss back. Your skin burns when your partner runs a hand over your back the way you used to adore.
You say everything he or she wants to hear as if they were scripted lines. These words feel dirty in your mouth and leave a wretched taste. You wonder if your partner can feel the falseness of them, the transparency.
You can’t avoid the inevitable.
You’ve come to a point where you can no longer take the anxiety of the situation at hand. Your desire to make your partner happy, to avoid hurting him or her, has been outweighed by your survival instincts.
You can’t go on feeling this way because you know that in the end you’ll be left with a meaningless, hollow life. Maybe you met someone else, maybe you didn’t, but you’ve been emotionally cheating on him or her with the lies in the forefront of your brain.
You can’t stave off this feeling of shame.
Your partner begs you to tell him or her what’s wrong. Your heart breaks as the tears stream down both your faces. While you’re hurting him or her with the truth, you’re also hurting yourself. While you’re breaking your partner’s heart, your own heart shatters. You tell the truth because the burden of a lack of love is too great to bear.
You want to love this person, you desperately want to love him or her, but you can’t.
No one walks away from a breakup unscathed. No one walks away without bruises and scars. We never look at the other side, at the one who’s doing the breaking up. It’s not to hurt the other person on purpose. It’s not to be malicious or callous or unfeeling. In fact, we’re the ones feeling the most.
Once love is lost, it’s lost forever. The only thing to do is cry until your tear ducts are empty, scream until your throat is hoarse, lie in bed in the throes of darkness until you feel light again.
The only thing left to do is to understand that this is a freedom all on its own and what must be, will be done.
Somehow, someway life will go on.
by Gigi Engle
This post originally appeared at Elite Daily. Reprinted with permission.
Gigi Engle is a Staff Writer and Editorial Assistant at Elite Daily. She is from both Maui and Chicago. Gigi earned a Bachelor’s in Journalism and English from Fordham University. Her interests include red wine and trashy romance novels.
Photo: Derek Mindler/Flickr