A Fractured Fairy-Tale

The ending of Notting Hill, is probably the best way to paint a picture of how I want our story to end. Eventually, we’ll find our place. Someone will ask, “How long are you intending to stay here?” And the answer is going to be “Indefinitely.”

That was the final paragraph in a piece I wrote almost a year ago today. But sometimes the movies get it all wrong.

Instead, the question I asked was “When are you moving here?”

And the answer I got was “I just need more time.”

When a heart breaks in real life, there is no dramatic music that plays over a montage of summer sunshine fading into autumn, or a blanket of white snow dissolving back into spring flowers as the protagonist pulls herself together and a new love blossoms. 

The only music you hear is the Country Heartbreak playlist from Apple Music as it blares through your headphones. And, if you’re me, you’ll try and jam all your memories into a love song of your own only to have it break your heart all over again.

And there is no fast-forwarding of time. You have to deal with that shit every. Single. Day.

It’s been three weeks today since the break-up, and honestly I feel like I’ve been sitting in a time warp where the days keep going forward but I am still stuck in that moment.

Sometimes I can’t breathe. 

Why do they never deal with the grief of a breakup in the movies? I thought I’d be channelling my inner Elle Woods and reaching peak break-down before transforming myself into a bomb af lawyer—or writer in my case.

But instead I took myself to a psychic, bought half a dozen self-help books, archived all my Instagram posts with him in them (I couldn’t bring myself to hit ‘delete’), checked Snapchat constantly to see if he had viewed my story, thought about becoming a yogi, attended a wellness retreat, and found myself back at square one almost every day.

The movies don’t tell you that heartbreak is PHYSICAL. Everything will hurt, you will silently cry on the train to work or at the mention of your friend’s embodiment of “the one”.

They don’t tell you that you won’t be able to stomach food and that you will lose weight at a scary speed without even noticing. Only when you regain an appetite will you have any energy.

And they don’t tell you that you can’t just replace the love you lost with a new love because that is a band-aid that won’t stop the hurt, just conceal the wound until it seeps out into every aspect of your life. You need to let yourself feel so you can heal.

After reading Break-Up Boss, I vowed to do the 50-day no contact rule. Aaaand that lasted all of 4 days. So I tried again with 30 days. And again, I found myself on the phone with him 5 days later—so that’s how well I did.

I just kept thinking about how our last kiss was a tearful airport goodbye back in May alongside a choked “see you in 6 months.” Our last photo together was under a golden archway at an Aladdin-themed night at The Grounds of Alexandria. But there was no fairy-tale ending in our future.

In the book, I read that women feel break-ups more deeply because we are biologically wired to mourn the loss of our partner and the future we saw together due to our maternal instincts—or something like that. And honestly, I felt this down to my core.

This break-up shook me more deeply than I’ve experienced anything before—partly because it was a circumstantial break-up and I knew how much we still love(d) each other, and partly because losing him meant losing my best friend and the person I’d believed was my happily-ever-after (I blame Disney tbh).

How do you cope when the future you had planned disappears before your eyes? Well, you don’t really.

On day 1, I went into shock. I was shaking, furious at what had happened, and that all the time, energy, money (it was long distance after all), emotion and mental strength I had poured into the relationship felt like it had been wasted. I’d held up my end of the bargain, why couldn’t he? That afternoon, I slept for 2 hours and woke up sobbing. I couldn’t sleep that night.

On day 2, the tears flowed steadily as I began to come to grips with what had happened, although I couldn’t accept it. I NEEDED closure. So I called. My chest felt hollow and like it had been constricted everyday for the better part of 2 weeks.

On days 3 and 4, I called in sick to work and visited a psychic. She told me I needed to focus on my future and let him go, because he had 18 months of working on himself in front of him. “But maybe after that we could be together,” was my immediate thought. The next day, I sat in my psychologist’s office and cried for the entire hour, not willing to hear what she had to say unless it was sympathy for me.

Fast-forward through weeks of reading, letter-writing, journaling, multiple phone calls, drunk texts (and day-after regrets), a new job and a perfectly-timed wellness retreat, and here I am dissecting every line of the letter I sent last week with that same hollowness in my chest.

He’d asked for time and I said yes, but I know I can’t sit in this moment forever and I don’t want to be back in that place again. So I’m staring at my re-activated Hinge account and wondering if the “someone new” the psychic had promised me could be just a swipe away. Knowing I’m not really ready to date again, but wanting something—someone—to cling on to.

Credit: Giulia Rosa Illustrations

Maybe I’m procrastinating falling asleep because I know that tonight is going to be another repeat of the three recurring dreams that have haunted my sleep these past few weeks:

The first involves him showing up on my doorstep, or vice versa, and falling into my arms, ready to start anew. Look at me—creating my very own fractured fairy-tale…

The second includes scenes that are DEFINITELY not PG rated, so might be best just to leave that one out. 

The last is me running down a hospital hallway towards a room with his name scribbled on a whiteboard hanging on the door. But I can never save us. I’m always a moment too late or wake up before I can open the door.

And I don’t know what one is worse. Because I wake up with the same sinking feeling in my stomach and tightness in my chest, no matter which dream plays out.

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