I am currently writing this sat in a train station – hungover, wet from rain, having texted my ex (again), £2.47 on my Monzo, slightly heavier than I was a month ago, thinking about my dissertation and a little more depressed than I have been in a while.
A lot has happened to me over the course of a month or so, I nearly had appendicitis (twice), lost my entire wallet abroad, and got dumped unexpectedly by a boy I genuinely liked. The age-old ‘suppress and never address’ tactic has not survived this ordeal. I always knew I attracted chaos; my erratic energy coupled with rash decisions tends to produce such an effect. But now, after several weeks of mourning and mistakes, I am running back home.
I’ve always deemed myself a hard-hearted person, and by that, I mean it takes a lot to get me down, to make me cry or even feel overwhelmed. I easily laugh at myself, a good quality but not a healthy one at the same time. A few months ago, it would have taken a solar system of problems to challenge my life, not the world alone. But when he stood at my door that Sunday morning and said what he had to say, those words were enough to erode my heart and displace my mind. I went from the highest of highs to the lowest of lows in what felt like rocket-speed.
A lot more than merely my heart broke, and that’s what no one can ever tell you or prepare you for. Everything inside me which was not denoted by material form broke – my self-esteem, confidence, imagination, self-respect, sense of security, were fractured, leaving me dazed. Ultimately, over these past weeks I have not been myself. I am not acting the way I want; I am not saying the things I want to say, and I am not being the person I thought I was. I’ve become obsessive, desperate, a nuisance not even to him and my friends but to myself. The voice inside your head can be your best friend and your worst enemy simultaneously. I’ve never lived in my own head so much as I have these past weeks and I finally want to move out.
One of my friends put it plain and simple to me: Emily, you are not being kind to yourself. And, in truth, she was right.
All I have ever wanted which cannot be bought, predicted, searched for or worked towards, is just to be loved. I think it’s innate in me and probably in everyone else. I think I have always wanted this, even if I denied it and never went on that second date because his feet were unappealing or I didn’t like the drink he chose (yes, I was that bad). Those thoughts which seem conventional now to think: I am not thin, pretty, interesting enough were frequent visitors in my head and, in truth, they still are. I think, when I say I want to be loved it is synonymous with wanting someone who doesn’t want me to change. I want someone to love and validate my character for all its colour, contours and chaos. Perhaps Heathcliff and Cathy had a rocky relationship, but I would rather someone say they want to “haunt” me than ghost me. At the end of the last academic year, I thought I finally found it when I least expected it. But now it tastes bitter: too good to be true.
One of the hardest things to do in life is to write about yourself (ironic I know), and I have always seen myself as someone in a story – but the pen is in someone else’s hand. I have always watched myself like a spectator, watched from above assuming someone else is writing the next chapter. After summer, when I flew out to Paris to see a boy, it felt like I could take the pen. I don’t think there are sufficient words to articulate how special, beautiful and happy I felt. Words simply failed me (a big fail for those who know me). The world finally fell silent around me because the only thing I wanted to see, hear, touch and spend time with was right by me.
I finally felt like I had a victory, I suppose. After twenty years of mishaps, stumbles, mistakes and misfortunes, it suddenly felt like I had endured that for a reason . But the chapters I wrote when I finally decided to take the pen will never be printed. The pages which detail a future that I can’t live anymore, a future where he would pull me out from the library because I wouldn’t have seen sunlight for hours, we would walk around the Christmas market, I’d bring him home for my 21st for mum’s roast and nan’s scones, we would walk across the fields at home and he would be at my graduation. It’s hard being a victim of your own imagination, and your imagination is something which will always be beyond your control, you can’t blame anyone else for that.
When it all ends, it seems like the past has become irrelevant.
I have always found it hard to let go and I am realising this now (hence the article). I have an intense phobia of things only ever existing in the past, of things purely existing as memory. Groundhog Day never seemed unappealing to me, because if it was the right day (and I can think of a few contenders), I would never get tired of re-living them in all their vibrancy and vividness. There is comfortable bliss in naivety, safety and senselessness. I think I have this fear, partly, because I watched both my grandfathers lose all their memories and become hollow and void of themselves. They became merely reflections of who they once were. Memories, I learnt, are finite and there are some I just never want to lose.
I guess why I have dragged this breakup out for as long as I could is, rather than accepting and moving on like the aspired procedure, I am realising so many things about myself that I have never encountered before. Now I have a haircut appointment booked and I might get another piercing. The breakup did not follow the pattern it was meant to, I never thought the French flag was going to be my biggest red flag. If my drunk self still had words to say (and she did), she will say them because she is speaking for a girl who is broken-hearted – sue me. Waves of chaos kept coming my way, whether it was calling the police on my housemate (accident and a story for another time), or simple things like being intellectually knocked down by someone in my seminar or reading something interesting that I can no longer tell him.
But I am a one-man show, like everyone else. When someone walked into my life, I wrongly gave them my whole stage when I should have just let them sit front row. Now the script seems incomplete: all along I could have let all the other amazing people in my life sit front row instead (it’s a big row).
What I have realised is I wear my heart on my sleeve when I thought it was buried in my chest, I’ve realised I don’t put myself first, I’ve realised I am a great friend but a terrible sister, I’ve realised I do love home even when I don’t express it, and I’ve realised all I want now is a first in my degree and to write.
Love is endangered these days, if you can’t find it in the aisles of tinder or the curious composition of a club, you’re fucked. But some people don’t seem to want to love or to let themselves love. In being young and having fun, love and commitment seems to be branded by some as a killjoy. I’ve never been one of those people and I never will. I guess that’s why I have found it hard to move on, and I still am, because being alone and spending time in your own company is frightening. After summer I really thought I was set. I had already experienced two years of university with my head and heart in constant negotiations and they finally agreed on one candidate who now no longer agrees on me. It sucks.
Maybe I did fall in love too fast, or maybe that’s a condition of my being which is both a cure and a curse. But what I have never fallen in love with, and am trying to, is myself. I talk to myself, I am neurotic, I am a workaholic, I am over-analytical, I tell bad jokes, I care deeply about others, I love easily, and I am an absolute lunatic.
I am going to be a little more woeful for a while, I can’t lie to you. When I get on my train, I will probably listen to Cigarettes after Sex’s new album whose release somehow seems perfectly timed to suit the sequence of events I have endured. I guess it is all a part of the process of moving on and no one can place a time frame on that. Maybe it’ll be easy for him to rebound, smile and never pause and think (who knows), and I thought the same would work for me but that’s just not who I am. Maybe in a week, a month or even at the end of this year, I won’t feel like this anymore. While I cannot have the future I intended with who I intended to have it with, and who knows what my future does hold (stay tuned), what is certain is in the future I am going to be happy. I’ll go to new places, I’ll meet new faces and maybe I’ll be new too. But I’ll be happy, and if chaos is there too then I’ll be happy with chaos because that is what makes me interesting.
– Emily Coleman