“Why is it always so emotional for you? You know, it’s okay to care less.”
My ex boyfriend used to tell me that I feel too much, that most people aren’t like me in that way. Honestly, I agree. I am not quiet, nor docile. When I love someone, it is not a gentle love. I pull them into my whole world. There is no guessing game on how I feel for someone. When I’m mad, I will not smile passively. I will show my anger, I will communicate that pain. If I am wronged, I will fight tooth and nail to drag myself through. It’s always been extremes with me and I’ve never tried to hide that from anyone. I am not made to be halfway anything.
He implied the way I feel everything is something to be ashamed about. He was tactical with his small, dismissive phrases in order to cut down my argument, an easy silencer. Every time I stopped in my tracks and wished to be different. But I’m not.
Who the fuck did he think I am?
I am an all in type of girl.
I am a shows up to get into the thick of it girl.
I am a gives her loved ones every ounce of herself and demands the same in return type of girl.
I meant it when I told him “your family is my family.” We both cried visiting his father’s grave. I’ve fought colleagues in his defense and cheered on his wins whenever they came. I will never care about running but I showed up at the finish line for him. This is what people who love each other do, they show up.
My strength comes from knowing I don’t have the option to shut off my emotions and I fucking refuse to not feel every single ounce of pain I continue to endure as a result of his actions. My heart is shattered, yet it is still beating to the sound of my feet moving forward.
Maybe he cheated on me because I am too much me and not enough his idea of who I should be.
What a trap.
I’m not the “cool girl” who doesn’t care what time he’s coming home or won’t get mad when he blows off plans because he got drunk with his friends. I am not going to pretend a dude’s not being a pretentious asshole when he tries to explain the difference between literary theory topics and discussing books because I’m a communications major and not an English major. I’m not “chill.” But if asking that the boyfriend I’m living with tells me his plan before applying to 40+ jobs or starts writing graduate school program essays is overbearing and controlling, then I don’t really want to be chill.
So why does it still hurt to think of those moments? Why am I still smiling at a picture of us grinning like fools on the couch with my parents? I still have his flask to run my fingers over because maybe if that remains full of our shared tequila, I will feel just a little less empty.
Or maybe he is just a coward. Whoever he is, whatever he thought, I do know one thing: He taught me I am invincible, because despite my sense of imposter syndrome in my own life lately, I’m still standing. I thought I’d die without him, but it turns out I’m every bit as strong as the person I was before our first cold November night together. Invincibility. What a beautiful thing to gain from someone who took so much.
He took my clarity. My sense of intuition is irrevocably shaken. I no longer have a concept of how to know who a person really is, because he is not who I thought.
I thought I found my match. A fellow sucker for poetry who’d carry their own Pablo Nerudo copy around so we’d always have comfort with us in our travels. I’ve never felt more at peace than when our knees were touching on a plane. He was the guy who bought a big-ass cinnamon roll with me on our way to eat an Easter feast at his mother’s house because he loved my sweet tooth. To this day, my favorite sound in the world is the giggle that came out of his mouth when he’d fully tip his head back, eyes squeezed shut. I thought he might be the one person to love me in a way that I’ve never loved myself. That he could return the feeling I had for him. I was wrong.
What’s worse, is he was able to make me forget who I am. I feel insane because I find myself grieving this loss of someone I loved who no longer exists. This person I created in my mind is not the person who is walking around, completely detached from the pain they’ve caused. My person is reduced to a memory. I cannot talk to or touch this partner I believed in. They are gone. Accepting that someone is no longer in reach, no longer a part of my life or the future I spent countless hours dreaming of is one thing. But to wrap my mind around the fact they were never really there?
I love a ghost, and I will be haunted by that for days, weeks, months to come, I’m sure. But me? I’m all heart, and I’m still here.
I won’t be reduced by the shadows on my shoulders.
While I may have lost us, I’m getting myself back.