For eight hours, we broke up. He said he couldn't believe me anymore, I said you're making this worse than it actually is. The break up was an instant and a shock, and we did it out of pure stubbornness that we thought we could deal with.
My first gut reaction was to tell a few of my friends; to make blunt but short announcements and hoping that a flow of sweet words would gush in. I needed some kind of relief; a distraction, temporary happiness that would deviate my mind; love emojis, crying emojis. But I knew that words had unspeakable power to change our narrative.
This happens all the time – moments of clarity come after few words slipping out naked and open into the world. All in a sudden, you see reality as clear as day. But bring this into the tender and vulnerable hours post-breakup and the words seemingly shape what is still a vapor in our head. Like a Rorschach’s (a psychological using interpretation and/or algorithm) test, words claim what might not even exist.
After a mere few minutes of contemplation, I couldn't help it but let out a few words to describe the situation to a couple of my friends. The man involved is someone who I rarely share his existence with anyone. Rarely people see us together let alone know that we are together. This relationship has been my greatest secret and telling someone an ending of a story is a bit funny. They had no idea how to react, obviously, and I had no idea how to describe further, knowing that they didn't know much about us.
But even if they had, even if it's an open and loving relationship, how deep does anyone else, but you and him or her, the two ends of this sacred tie, who wholly understands the twists and turns of this relationship?
So much of a relationship is sacred. And what's sacred can hardly be put into words. Especially the ending, the messiest part of all, where you're living in a limbo between what ifs and your newly, fresh, tender flesh of reality. It's not a liberating feeling, even if you're free from a tie. As everything collapsed for the next hours of the night, I felt suffocated to even understand what the hell was going on.
I couldn't breathe, and I couldn't let out a single word. And in those hours of fracture, resentment, anger, delusion, and confusion, it's best to stay silent, to your phone, to your friends, and to yourselves.
The city in your mind is calling out chaos, alarming itself into an emergency status; unprepared, frantic. Everyone is running around trying to escape and trying their best to stay alive and sane. You can hear them —the little voices in your head screaming out different words and stories, trying to make sense the last few hours or days or months. Images of past loving memories and fights collided.
Like in the movie Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, a breaking up process involves a flash revisit to the past, scavenging on little precious memories to recollect and to keep. And you will find, those moments in the distant past you wish you can cherish to the distant future. And then you are pulled back to the conversation just happened a few hours, one you believe is closer to fiction. You couldn't understand how you end up here. But in all these chaos, don't put words in your own mouth. The relationship we have, in some ways, is a narrative we create ourselves. In fact, everything is. Our personal past is a subjective narrative that we create. We make meanings out of our relationships, not the other way around.
We also make meanings and stories out of the people we date, consciously and unconsciously. If we decided he's a good person, then he is. If we decided he’s not a good person, then he isn’t. Yes, there is a strict limit to this. But what we believe to be true is the compass that navigates our sayings and doings.
I have so much respect for the man I date. And we have a fantastic few years of relationships. For the sake of us, I didn't want to make meanings out of our relationship with the heartbreaking ending. I didn't want to share our awful few hours of break up to anyone, only to be broken down, analyzed, and rephrased to be a story I had never believed in the first place. Even to the end, I want to believe him in the best possible way, him at his best, not at his tail end. I figure that was the only way to keep it sacred, even until the relationship has gone to the dusty past. Because the moment you begin to utter these words, even to yourselves in your own head, you will feel its transformative power to make a narrative that you might not even know if it’s true or if it matters at all.
The ending, like falling in love, is an experience beyond words. There’s no framework, reasoning, rational, or logic that can justify the happening. At that moment, your heart is an ocean and it’s fighting a raging storm. Your mind is just a boat trying to survive. The only thing that can calm your weather—your heart—is time. The only way you can see it truly as it is when you’ve sailed far, then looking back.
Illustration by @signumnobilis