What is it about broken people? Why is it that when we are our worst possible selves, the wolves of our own minds come licking at our ankles, trying their damnedest to pierce these thick skins we’ve harnessed to ourselves for preservation?
Winter is over. And things have gotten really, really weird. I guess you could say I lost my shit. I did. I let everything overwhelm me until my head was under water and then I finally came up for air and the shock of it was as alarming to me as the possibility of drowning. I made some changes. I ended a four year relationship that has had more twists and turns and fights and heartaches and beauty than an entire season of Dawson’s Creek and it catapulted me into a nearly crippling depression. Ultimately, it had stalled and could not grow anymore. Growth needs to come from a place that allows each person to challenge the other within their bend. Something had come apart, here. This relationship is unique and its attributes are too personal, even for my emotionally bulimic self, to divulge in fuckin’ Blog-form, but any time a ‘break up’ occurs, the end result is a transition into a different sort of life. My transitions are always clumsy.
I stayed awake for two days and didn’t leave my bed. I called out of work. I didn’t eat. I sent a few regretful texts that turned into pedantic arguments. I cried. I stopped answering my phone and let it die. I barely moved. I wasted into my sheets and thought all the bad thoughts.
On the third day, still unable to make it through a work day (sometimes, when the world around you has collapsed, you can’t bring yourself to spend eight hours with a handful of schizophrenics who are likely going to pummel you with the span of human emotion within one conversation. I just couldn’t handle it.), completely drained of all energy and nourishment, I used the sunshine outside as an excuse to get my ass out of bed and away from my cave. I walked into town and tried to grapple with what the hell to do with myself. I made uneasy eye contact with people on the street and wondered if they could see that I was coming apart inside. I thought about the person I was losing and argued tooth and nail with my incessant inner monologue whether or not I had just made a terrible mistake.
I wandered aimlessly around town and found myself in a dippy little crystal shop getting my Tarot read by a whimsical faerie of a woman named ‘Juniper’. She told me I had made the right decision. She suggested that I sew my oats and gather up my losses. “It’s moving on time,” she said. She also recommended that I pick out a crystal to take home with me, one that spoke to me. To keep it in my pocket and hold it when I felt unsure of myself. I am a skeptic and a realist when it matters, but sometimes I just want to be told what to do by a bird-shaped woman covered in silk scarves and silver bangles, bursting with every color you could possibly imagine. I picked a little green stone called ‘Jasper’, because it was the name of my cat who had died, and I thought it would be a good emblem to remember him by.
Following my interlude with the supernatural, I did the next reasonable thing: I put a down payment on a tattoo. I had been wanting to get one for a while and had been obsessing over images for many months. I finally decided on a textbook likeness of a humpback whale, as I am completely awestruck by them as creatures and love the pen and ink-like contours of their bodies. Plus, you know, getting over humps and whatnot.
Then, I came home and called my insurance company and signed my sad ass up with a therapist. Because I am a grown up now and it’s no longer acceptable for me to spend more than four days straight at home listening to Leonard Cohen in mourning. The next day, I went to work. I cried twice after receiving an especially jagged text message and then carried on. Week one is always the worst, and it was almost over.
Week one turned into week two and I started living a semblance of a life again. You don’t stop missing the person who you have asked to leave. But you start to imagine yourself without them. The result is both liberating and incredibly sad. But I am someone who has a hard time being on my own, and the thought of autonomy is very difficult. Without a partner in crime, you are just a lone criminal, trudging through bleakly and taking up space. I wish it weren’t true, but I value my self-worth based on how others see me. Now I was just me. And my former counterpart? Well, from the outside, they seemed to be having a much easier time. I felt like I was going insane; they were moving on gracefully and had found someone new, with less baggage to tote around. I was curling up on bathroom floors and carrying around a face that caused everyone to react with the same question, “What happened to you?” Grief shows you no time-line. It is as subjective as it is vague. There is no indication when you will stop feeling as though something within you has suffocated.
But with week two down, and week three upon me I started being social again. I went back to my poetry readings, I went to New York to visit some friends, I bought way too many cute, Spring dresses and I sort of started feeling like the person I used to be. Oh yeah, and I started drinking again. Because the real Lauren is sometimes a fucking drunk. And there’s no better temporary lubricant to your sadness than a belly full of whiskey and no inhibition.
When you’re wasted it’s really easy to convince yourself that everything is cool so I started going out a lot and invested myself in some new friends and made a point to not talk about myself or my problems. I ached for new experiences and I let myself talk to people I might usually ignore. I did a lot of dancing. I kept the whiskey flowing. I broke the promise I made to myself about not being a sex-starved lush and went home with a stranger who had way too nice of an apartment for my comfort and a bathroom cabinet lined in cologne. I quickly escaped to his shower and drunkenly removed all of my heavily-accrued body hair of the last several weeks with one of his razors and probably left it all hovering over the drain. (Because I’m a fuckin’ gross creep!) We had incredibly meaningless sex which was, yeah irresponsible and potentially dangerous, but just what the fuck I needed to get out of my rut. Sweaty stranger sex in an unfamiliar place sometimes lunges you back into the idea that you are desirable at face-value and there’s a power to that fact that cannot be over-explained with justification. It was great. I have no desire to ever see him again. Perfect.
Then the ball really started rolling for me. A few days after my Tuesday-night tryst I got my acceptance letter to the University of Chicago which was the good fucking news I needed to hear. A ticket out of this town with funding to boot. How could a girl be sad? I mean, moving comes with its own track-list of stresses and anxieties, but, I am ready, Chi-town. Bring it on.
Following this elation the world around me started picking up a little. I started feeling less miserable around the same time the weather started warming up a bit. I started taking my long walks again and writing. I started spending nights with someone else and feeling that nervous excitement that comes with the beginning of something–it’s like getting into a freezing pool. You wade out inch by inch, but the rush eventually does come.
It’s been almost two months give or take, since things have shifted in my universe. I didn’t think it could be true, but I am nearly happy again. I am still a bundle of phobias and I often wake up wincing at something I did the night before, but, truth be told, I feel like I maybe a grew a little bit because of this. That liberation thing? It’s real. It is agonizing to wait for, but…it does come.
And it’s not liberation from the person that creates the free-ing feeling. In fact, the liberation creates the ability to reintroduce the person back into your life, in a new way. It is less intimate. It isn’t easy, and sometimes it is strained by long pauses and maybe a couple heart-wrenching moments of eye contact that are punctuated by heavy beats but when you look away? The world doesn’t end. You share a beer. They go home at the end of the night. You invite someone else in. It’s different, but, you can see yourself living through it now.
Things are still patchy in a couple places. Mostly, I’ve found that I really suck at sleeping alone. My need to spoon coupled with any amount of whiskey is going to ensure that I embarrass myself in some way–whether it be climbing into the bed of some inappropriate person (just to sleep!) or to beg some poor, unsuspecting house guest to please cuddle the shit out of me–I have got to get over this thing of mine. There’s always been something safe about sharing my bed and having a body against me in the night that comforts me and keeps me feeling contained. But I guess I need to deal with this now, before I’m in Chicago without a phone full of random numbers to drunkenly plea with, “Wanna just hold me? No homo?”
But things? Well I guess they’re alright these days. I know that I have lost something that was once intrinsic to me, every day, for a very long time. I know that it will heal in various ways but that it won’t ever be the same again. I have grieved for that loss, mainly. It’s a shock to the system. But I guess it’s a good thing too. That you can feel that much. That it wrecks you. That it is so specific that no one else could possibly understand how fucking distraught you are and how dare them for trying to coddle you.
Jeanette Winterson, on describing the things our friends tell us to make us feel better said,“’You’ll get over it’…” It’s the clichés that cause the trouble. To lose someone you love is to alter your life forever. You don’t get over it because ‘it” is the person you loved. The pain stops, there are new people, but the gap never closes. How could it? The particularness of someone who mattered enough to grieve over is not made anodyne by [loss]. This hole in my heart is in the shape of you and no-one else can fit it. Why would I want them to?”
Thing is, you gotta let it eat you for awhile. You gotta let all that hurt gnaw at all your most sensitive bits and when you’re raw and aching and ready to cave in on yourself…something crazy happens: the sun comes out. You part the shades. You go outside.