Tuesday, September 21, 2021

The first cut is the deepest

Ah, falling in love. It has its perks: intertwined fingers, conversations about dreams and aspirations, sweet smooches, shared hobbies such as working out and watching foreign films, a pleasant cheer in one’s step as an anticipated date approaches.

These are memorable, especially to first timers. They’re almost life-changing, like a roller coaster pumping you full of adrenaline and excitement. You don’t want to get off the ride, and it’s thrilling — for both of you. It’s a whirlwind, and your emotions are up in the clouds — you are up in the clouds.

It’s all amazing and lovey-dovey until it ends somewhere and the light, cinematic piano piece comes to a screeching halt.
The dreaded breakup has arrived.

We had met through my cousin at a Bible study session last spring and spent the night talking, seated in a snug windowsill. He was refreshing. He asked a lot of questions, said corny things and could read minds in an uncanny way. I admit, I threw myself à corps perdu, or “recklessly with the body and soul.”

We started messaging each other all the time. Once, we stayed up until 4 a.m. talking about each other’s favorite things and who we hoped to become in the future. At the end of that week, he asked me out. We continued to talk and Skype and then decided to make it exclusive last fall.

I didn’t want my experience to be like the movies, but it inevitably was. I drowned in the “can’t sleep, can’t eat, can’t stop thinking about him” feeling. I became breathless at the thought of him — his fierce, blue eyes and the way he seemed to effortlessly gravitate his attention toward me. It was easy to feel special around him.

Eventually things started to head south. Even after I broke up with him, I felt as if things still weren’t clearly defined. He had given me a “Yeah, long distance isn’t for me. Let’s be friends.”
So simple, yet so heavy.

I wanted more from him. I didn’t expect tears from him, but something other than “Let’s be friends” would have been nice. I wanted to shout at him, “I don’t want to be your friend,” like a stubborn 7-year-old girl.

Despite the fact that I broke up with him, I expected to “let myself go.” I expected to immerse myself in Häagen-Daz’s vanilla bean ice cream, lightly buttered popcorn, my starchy sheets and my beloved “House of Cards.” I thought I would cry every hour of the day and curl into a fetal position, avoiding any social interaction whatsoever.

Oddly, for me, there was no crying at first. No red-rimmed eyes on the way to the bathroom for yet another snot session. No random spurts of stifled bawls between regular activities.

I was OK. Unlike the girls in many young adult novels, I didn’t go through a phase of deep depression.

My breakup forced me to get out of the bubble I had formed around myself and him. I was finally seeing the world through my regular glasses rather than rose-colored lenses.

In a non-compulsive-obsessive way, I threw myself into my work. I dove into Pinterest, finding new DIY projects I might want to tackle over spring break (DIY peppermint sugar scrub, here I come). I focused more on my school work, which was kind of a blessing in disguise. My closest friends brought me out of my zombie-like, work-obsessed phase. They reminded me of the value I had.

“You are a queen before and after,” my cousin told me. “Don’t forget that.”

I started to see myself again, apart from the person I was with him. Everyone goes through a heartbreak, and the first time can sometimes be the worst. It’s the fact that you learned from the experience and survived it that counts.

Email Reggianie Francois at reggianie.francois@cardinalpointsonline.com

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