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On Heartbreak

an essay by Haider

What is grief if not the remainder of love that is still left? It seems like I’ve almost come full circle, albeit it is for a reason that makes me slightly uncomfortable to talk about, but I do it, because all I know well is to write, and even that, I am not so sure of.

Coming to you live, from the chambers of my heart, I sing to you a melody you might be familiar with - maybe because I have sung that melody before in a different key.

While I write this, I contemplate whether or not I should wait on this, because the truth is, I could very much use a piece on grief & heartbreak just about now (I laughed while writing that line, I hope you do too. It’s not funny, it’s just ironic). But this is my attempt to make sense of my grief. I feel like I need to say something; as if I need to turn my pain into some kind of art, in hopes it can be of service to someone else.

There is never a right way to go on about a heartbreak. You try to convince yourself that it is for the better, and your friends tell you there is someone by the name of “better” you should meet, and your therapist tells you to focus on yourself, all while you do mental gymnastics in your head to figure out what went wrong — If you could have done something, or if you didn’t do something.

It is vile that the only way for us to measure our love for someone is by losing them.

There is no other way to make them see how they made you feel unless they’re blind. There is no other way to make them hear you call out their name over and over in your sleep unless they’re finally deaf. There is no other way to truly let someone know how much we love them until they are gone. Grief serves as a great reminder to us that there was something within us in the first place. If, in my previous essay, On Love, I wrote to love someone was to hold a communion with another’s imperfections, then here I must say, to grieve someone is to realize there is still love inside of you left to be given.

I don’t regret what I gave. Indeed, I will forever see a part of them wherever I go and carry a piece of them inside of me wherever I am, but I need to learn to be okay with that. Regret is just perspective, and you can either look at it as “I should have done more, I should have been better, I won’t ever be able to forgive myself,” or you can look at it as “how do I learn from this? How do I grow and become better from this?” At least, that’s what my therapist would have told me.

Alas, it is by far the most aching, agonizing thing to grieve for the living. There is no right way to go on as to how one chooses to deal with their pain. It would be far too absurd to be in the middle of a breakdown, and to think to yourself, “Wait, am I grieving right? Um, maybe I should not be grieving like this,” how absurd!

You must allow the pain to persevere.

I come across these unsent paragraphs in my note’s app, and that one letter I wrote in my psychology class at nine in the morning, buried in the middle of my notebook, or the pictures we had, and I think, “oh man, whatever happened to that guy, now? Hope he’s holding on well,” but I only address him in third person because I can’t seem to recognize him in myself. It feels weird to me that there was a time when I seemed so sure and so certain of the way I felt. Despite everything in this world, there was something to feel certain about, until there wasn’t. Is this what it means to grieve? The funny thing is, I never make it through any of those unsent paragraphs or the undelivered letters because I know my heart is no longer strong enough to read them without bursting out of my chest.

I can only hold onto so much hate, rage, and pain inside my beating heart until I realize those feelings have nowhere else to go if I do nothing. I can spend hours & hours, wondering if I’m still missed, or if they’ve forgotten me, and then maybe think I should go write an essay titled “On Being Forgotten” (that’s a joke).

It is easy to try and live in their head, to wonder why they did what they did, but it is also aching, and awful, disgusting, hopeless, and every synonym you might associate with feelings of despair.

I’m trying to take it for what it is, rather than what it could have been. Doing so, I am trying to live my life off of that. At times, it is not so easy, but in the grand scheme of things, it seems like the right thing to do. Maybe that is all we can ever do.

There is only so much of Coldplay, Phoebe Bridgers, Elliott Smith, Bob Dylan, Jeff Buckley, Mac DeMarco, Elvis Presley, or even Taylor Swift, that I can listen to until my therapist scolds me again. I refrain from revisiting some of my favorite movies because of the haunting memories I find myself revisiting. I must live my life. It is absurd, it is weird, and it seems to be out of place. Grief feels like taking a piece of the puzzle you spent so much time fixing, only to shake it, mess up all the pieces, lose a few, and then be asked to rework the puzzle.

Grief is my best friend that speaks in a language I do not understand. We shout at each other, we curse at one another and sometimes we even cry together, but never do we get to hold each other. Perhaps now I could find a way to hold onto the grief, perhaps now I could find a way to let go of my grief.

I write this to be cathartic about it. I’m not trying to forget what happened to me, nor am I trying to run away from it. I am letting it happen to me. I’m allowing myself to be hurt by it, but also acknowledging the hurt. I’m allowing myself to heal, learn, grow from it, become better, and perhaps overcome it too. It isn’t so much of a linear process. I’m not trying to move on either, but rather move forward with it. I will carry a piece of them in me. The light around that piece still hasn’t gone out. Inside of me, it’s still on, flickering and shining, and it will forever light on. It is up to me, to take as much time as I need until I am ready to revisit that room where that shiny light comes from and appreciate it once again for letting me experience its beauty in the first place — that is love. It does not stay, but it isn’t forgotten either. It can hurt, but it is the only way to heal.

Holding hands with grief, I confess to the world: I have loved. I have been loved. I have been kissed in the mouth and felt warmth in my heart. I know what it has felt love has felt like and I thank you for it.

Grief is still love. Find someplace to cultivate it.


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