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I remember having that awful feeling. The feeling of absolutely nothing. The numbness, the displeasure, the heartfelt loneliness that you get when you say goodbye. The feeling after you’ve cried yourself out and there’s nothing left to say, but you just want to keep that person on the phone with you, you just want to keep talking, even though you know full well that it would be so much better for you both if you said goodbye. The feeling of not wanting to do anything, of lying around the house with a million things to do and not doing a single one. Of wondering if you can skip school tomorrow.
But you’re not a hopeless romantic. You’re not the type of girl that’s going to cry herself out because a boy says so, because a boy leaves. You’re the kind of girl that’s going to get up at 5AM, yes, 5AM tomorrow and smooth out her hair and put on the perfect amount of make up and go to school and say, “You thought you could break me? Ha!” and purposely make every single boy you meet stricken with your presence. You’re the kind of girl who moves on, leaves him heartbroken and in tears. You are intact, perfect, exceptionally okay, and smiling. A daughter of Aphrodite herself. They couldn’t break you. High school can’t break you. And all those people will never see you cry, and no one will ever understand. They’ll call you cold hearted, or they’ll call you the sweetest girl they’ve ever met, depending on their jealousy. And even your family will look at you and say, “She is awful. She is vicious.” But you won’t care. Because you don’t care what other people think, as long as you’re the best.
But you’ll go back to your room and cry yourself to sleep. You’ll go text all those people that no one even knows you love- all three of them- and the four of you will wallow in aloneness together. You’ll recall how unfair this is, that you can’t be friends with whoever you want and that you can’t show the world how upset you really are and how imperfect. Because imperfection is nothing anyone wants to see, it’s that part of you that you hide so well, you don’t even know it exists sometimes.
Yes, I remember feeling like that the day he left.
I ate everything I could lay my hands on. I wore comfy clothes and took a grand total of one hot shower in three days. My whole body ached, either from emptiness or pushing myself too hard, I’ll never know. I stared at books and television sets, and I didn’t have a word to say. I didn’t cry, I wasn’t angry, I wasn’t stressed, I wasn’t scared. I wasn’t anything. I didn’t feel an ounce of emotion. And that’s what scared me most indefinitely.
Every page of every book I read I had to read twice to understand. I didn’t get up unless my stash of food had run out. I drank Smart Water and tried to comfort myself. I didn’t let my family in to help me, or my best friend, or anyone. I got easily frustrated and felt so unwanted, even though the only reason he left was because he had moved. He reminded me and asked me and tried to take me back, begged me to take him back, more times than I could count. It was down to my own stubborn idea that happiness would come with the distance between us, so I invested myself in convincing him he didn’t want me. But I wanted him to want me. And I was scared for the day he finally agreed he didn’t.
I know true love doesn’t happen when you’re fifteen years old. I had to tell myself that about a thousand times. This isn’t love, this is lust. This is need. This is what teenagers go through. I refused to be the typical, “I’ll die without him” girl. I was going to live.
It didn’t stop me from writing sad love poems and going to sleep with headaches and tears. I itched to text him. I wanted him. But I couldn’t say I was wrong. He was a total of at least 10 states away now, at least. He was farther than my heart would allow. What if he met someone there who made him happier than I could? After all, by the time he reached his final destination, I had retreated into that corner of his mind in which I was just another text message. He was handsome, he could have any girl. He just couldn’t have me.
I was the girl he wanted to marry. The girl that he called perfect and beautiful. The girl he could never let go of even if he tried. Or so he says.
But I questioned myself. Happiness. Do I truly want happiness? Yes. But this only brought me pain. I just have to trust myself, trust that through this great pain comes great joy.
I remember the emptiness. I remember creating it. And I pray to God I was right in doing so.