Fifty-Five Notes to My Ex, Collected in a Box Under My Bed

December 7th, 2017 § 0 comments § permalink


During the first week of the break up a friend gave me a box and a stack of blank notes. She said to write down every thought I have of you and put it in the box. I kept both the box and blank notes next to my bed. For thirty days, when I woke up and when I went to sleep, I would write down the thoughts I had of you. These thoughts are both liberating and painful to read. I fear that I don’t come off very well. But this is what the truth looks like, I think. The thoughts I had are as follows, over the course of a month, in random order. This is what heartbreak looks like, even when it is done consensually and lovingly.

  1. What if the future is just me being secretly in love with you?
  2. I saw a flash of your picture on a friends phone today.
  3. I wonder what you’re doing.
  4. I am both thinking of you less and less and still factoring you into every decision.
  5. I’m afraid you no longer love me or care about me.
  6. I wouldn’t be writing this novel if it wasn’t for you breaking my heart.
  7. The anger I feel toward you is a wall—I don’t want to go back to taking care of you.
  8. I’m still holding out hope for you
  9. I slept with some else today. She felt differently than you did, came differently than you did. This is nothing new. But I noticed it.
  10. You are starting to fade from my memory.
  11. Cigarettes have been incredibly effective at erasing my feelings for you. Except now I’m in love with smoking.
  12. Once again you’ve ruined the Mountain Goats for me
  13. You taught me a lot about love. I taught myself more.
  14. At first it was uncontrollable pain that compelled me to write these notes and put them in a box. Now it’s a way to recognize the (smaller) space you hold inside of me. Every day that space shrinks. I wonder what ghost of you will linger on.
  15. I’m afraid that you have forgotten me
  16. You had two chances with me. Now you don’t get me at all.
  17. If I find out you’re dating someone else I will burn your life to the ground.
  18. I’m sorry my email was so cold.
  19. I’m afraid I won’t find anyone better than you. You are so good.
  20. I talked to you on the phone today and you said that you sometimes look at pictures of us, wondering if you made a huge mistake.
  21. I seem to have been successful at burying my love for you.
  22. I wrote you a nice email even though I’m still committed to being angry at you.
  23. Every time I see one of your friends I want to tell them to tell you to go fuck yourself. But I don’t. I’m not asking anyone to hate you. The truth is, there is no one to blame here.
  24. I finished a novel today. I both accomplished a lifelong dream and gave you the biggest fuck you I could possibly think of.
  25. I just want to be held by you.
  26. I’m having a love affair with cigarettes
  27. Honestly, fuck you.
  28. These have become my letters to you, in absence of our communication. Today the moon was either waxing or waning.
  29. I am mourning our future.
  30. Yesterday I realized that we are not getting back together. I wasn’t doing anything special. I just felt it finally.
  31. To be honest, when I hear your name, I think “you can go straight to hell” in exactly the intonation you would have used.
  32. I don’t know what kind of truck you’re driving now so I look for you in all of them.
  33. Why am I smoking?
  34. I miss being your priority.
  35. How many times can I refresh my email until there is one from you?
  36. It feels so painful to hear others talk about sex and relationships.
  37. It’s unbelievable how many things remind me of you.
  38. Turns out this town is big enough for the both of us.
  39. I’m no longer counting down the days until we talk again.
  40. If you hadn’t broken my heart, I wouldn’t have written this novel.
  41. It’s been almost a month since we last spoke and the end is kind of in sight.
  42. I’m afraid that any reference to New Orleans will always hurt. I thought I would lose you to it. Turns out I lost you while you were still here.
  43. What if we are never close again?
  44. I wrote a whole book and I still miss you.
  45. And still—I’m dreaming of you every night.
  46. There was an email from you today but it wasn’t just for me. I read it and then deleted it. I don’t need you.
  47. Will I always be in love with you?
  48. I miss being held by you.
  49. I have avoided looking at the moon since we broke up.
  50. Who could possibly measure up to you?
  51. I can say your name now without pain ripping through my body.
  52. I have nothing left to give you.
  53. I wish I could tell you the incredible ghost story I heard today. I know exactly the face you’d make.
  54. Every night I dream that we are back together.
  55. I knew every moment with you was precious—and still—I thought we had more time.

 

Not now.

November 20th, 2017 § 0 comments § permalink


It finally hit me today that it’s over. It’s been twenty-one days since you broke up with me. I am still in shock, still mourning our future. But today, while I was doing nothing in particular, I realized you’re not coming back, we’re not on pause. And that I need to move on. The grieving process has been a slow undoing, shedding off the layers of you. I still am waiting for you to call and say you’ve made a mistake but the longer I wait the more foolish I feel. I can’t wait forever. And part of me thinks I will always be in waiting, forever. And I feel anger now. At you. For taking up so much space in this town, in my life. I feel anger. I feel anger. I feel anger because my heart wants to make a clean break of it. If I see you, I want to tell you to fuck off. Because you had no right… And here’s where the anger dissolves, and becomes something more complicated. You had every right to take care of yourself. Am I angry at the trauma you went through that made it so you have a difficult time setting boundaries? No, I am saddened by that. Truly, I don’t want you to feel unnecessary pain. Once again, I find that I am begging to hate you and I’m coming up with only love. Am I angry that you’re trying to heal yourself? Of course not. I wish it had happened sooner, I wish we could still be together. I wish I could brush my teeth with you, our socked feet touching. And we could once again ride in my car, singing along to Mariah Carey. I wish I could be in your arms, feeling safe and loved and held. My heart can’t make a clean break of this. I am shedding. Every day without you is another reference point for my life without you. Every day the future looks a little different. There is far less of you in it. Maybe one day, we can laugh and hold each other and sing badly. Maybe one day we can be there for each other to confide in, to bring each other soup and understanding. I don’t know when that day will come. I can’t wait for it any longer. If you want to be with me, you’re going to have to do the work. I’ll be over here, reading by the fire, writing a novel, spending time with my chosen family, cuddling my dog. Maybe one day you’ll be back in that picture. But not today. Not now. It’s over.


Inevitably

November 16th, 2017 § 0 comments § permalink

 

I will just keep writing to you.

I am still in love with you. The only thing that’s changed is that we are no longer together. And yet, I still feel like we are in this together. You tell me you love me. You need space because you want to talk to me constantly. I read about love and I think only of you. I am in love with you. My feelings will change, I’m sure, but I only see this love going beneath the surface. I can push it down perhaps until it is buried, closed behind a door. All the doors in this house are open and now I must shut each one, the wind pushing against it.

It’s quiet here and my heart is racing. I am smoking too much, remembering you too much. You’d think my brain would try to lessen the pain but it seems to have spilled out every memory in vivid detail. The day we listened to Mariah Carey and you said you finally understand how two people can stay in love when they’re not together. So you want to be free. So I let you fly. I begged you to stay.

But inevitably:

Our love will never die.

There is this idea that I could play you this song and you’d come back. You would kiss me and say you made a mistake. I hunger for that kiss. I feel so close to being in your arms. It will linger on.

For a moment in time. And it seemed everlasting.

My bones say that this is not the end of our story. I look toward the future and I see my love for you continuing on, it will quiet and secret itself. Maybe you will love me less and less. Or maybe your love for me will become quieter and secret too.

We’ve been here before, in a way. And we were still in love.

If you could leave, that might help. If you could move away I would cry and cry and cry. But I would move on. How am I supposed to move on?

I still feel our story is not over.

I could show up at your door and tell you I will be in love with you, waiting for you to come back. I will live my life and I will always be waiting. I look toward the future and I will always be waiting for you. I look toward the future and I see that this is my life, perhaps for months, for years.

If you’re determined to leave, I won’t stand in your way.

But inevitably.

You’ll always be.

 


The only thing that’s changed

November 14th, 2017 § 0 comments § permalink

I am still in love with you. The only thing that has changed is that we are not together.


 

I have to write about you first.

November 11th, 2017 § 0 comments § permalink


Tomorrow will be two weeks since you ended things. You ended things poorly. At least, that’s not how I would have done it. It was the first time I’ve ever seen you cry. You lay with me for a while and when you left I screamed “no” over and over and over again, so loud I thought my throat would tear open. I cried for days. But that’s how everyone does it, right? We all say: “I cried for days.” By the fourth day I was hiking alone, astonished, repeating: “I have the remarkable capacity to heal.” It’s true. I can heal, I am strong. I have a community that loves me in ways I could never love myself. And yet, I feel lost, I feel empty. I try to make conversation and my lips have only your name.

At first, I thought that I would never be able to trust anyone again. That might still be true. And still, I find myself cultivating trust for you. I do trust that you did what is in your best interest. Things are different with this heartbreak. For one, I still love myself. I feel proud of almost all of my actions. I’m being transparent about how much this hurts. And you are not a villain. All of those talks we had, us and our community, about queer break ups, they set a precedent. I did not ask anyone to hate you or reject you.

One week to the day and I still thought we might get back together. I met you at your place and immediately you said that we were broken up, you needed to be clear about that. That’s when I cried again. I gave you a letter I had written, a letter that I had to go to fedex to print. It outlined the ways we could be together, to heal together, to set boundaries together. I thought we were still in this together. Perhaps in a way we are.

My phone feels empty without you. My email feels empty without you. My mind does not feel equipped to understand how to go from constant communication to nothing. No good morning text, no goodnight moon. I don’t know what you ate today or who you saw or what work you didn’t accomplish or what amazing ways you stood up for yourself and others. You were the person I trusted beyond all others, in ways I never thought possible. I opened up more and more of myself. And still. I know that I was enough. But I still wasn’t enough.

That day, one week later, we lay together, I felt your hand run along my back. My ribs craved you, my mouth craved you, my cunt craved you. I felt you crave me in a way that I had almost forgotten. I remember a few weeks after we had gotten together, you didn’t seem excited to be with me. I told you this and you said that hurt to hear. I was enough and I wasn’t, even then. I know what it’s like to feel bottomless, to fill and fill and fill and still be empty. How long have you been this way?

You had me on my back, naked, except for my boots. You said: if you ever feel like you’re not sexy, remember this moment. That night when you hugged me goodbye, we were all glittered and masked. You said you love me, I said I love you.

How long until we stop being in love? Maybe you’re there already. This breaks my heart, all over again. You are like water through my fingers. The moment I fill up on you is when I start losing you.

Two weeks to the day. Every memory I have brings me to you. You are etched into every road, every building, every corner of my house. The only way I know how to forget you is to retrace every step without you, over and over, until you are a faint line. You are not a ghost, you can’t be forgotten. I am retracing and you are tracing all new lines. It’s just that they are being carved without me.

I think back to those days when we kissed and the whole world was still ours to build. Two weeks ago.

Those days—two weeks ago.


Hindsight

November 11th, 2017 § 0 comments § permalink


I am discovering days where we where we

Where we kissed and still had the whole world to build.


Cut here.

November 7th, 2015 § 0 comments § permalink

The other party can be cut and pasted. There is a roughly person shaped space, like a clumsy toddler, I try to stuff you and you and you in it, and then dust over the rough edges, stone that barely kisses stone.

Now that I’m not trying to make you fit, I’d prefer to excise you completely. Pretend you are only a memory, one that can be pushed and pushed and pushed off the screen. The whole illusion shatters when you wave to me from a truck or I run into you at Grumpy’s or you pass by SCRATCHbread, friend in tow. The towers of sand, time, space, denial– an avalanche.

If I pathologize our years months moments together, I can cure it. I can cauterize the wound. You were wrong, I was wrong, we were wrong. It wasn’t going to work.

Because if I admit that this is exactly how I needed it to play out, if I admit that this pain is the reward… There is no “next time,” no future someone I’m getting better for– I’m working my way up towards– perhaps that person is me. Perhaps my edges are softening so I fit more comfortably into this existence, into myself– not so I fit better with you, future you, past you.

I’m uncomfortable with how much I wish you all are hurting without me. I am hurting without me. I am hurting because I am constantly trying to run away from my own feet. If you hurt without me, I must be worth hurting for.

I think about the love I have for my friends, for strangers. How beautifully their lives unfold, how heartbreaking heartwarming how touching how special. I assume I must be the only one who sees the progress of others– and that idea causes me to search and search and search for the person who watches me.

Does this mean anything at all if it is not read? Not watch, noticed, heard? Maybe I don’t get to know. Maybe I am seen, but I can’t know by who. I’m tired of waiting for someone to try on those eyes.

I will be the seer, I will be the seen.

 

The Next Thing

November 4th, 2015 § 0 comments § permalink

It’s hard to believe I’m back here again, accompanying my mind as it falls faster, faster.

In Brooklyn, after Audrey and I broke up, and I started Al Anon, I was a walking bruise. Every moment hurt, like someone was flicking the wound with their fingernail. There was a world of ideas to let go of— future plans, compulsive behaviors, disappointment, anger, self-hatred, fear— and each one shattered me.

Mourning is a dramatically slow movement through time. Even the word itself is slow to roll off the tongue. It’s not as crisp as grief, although just as heavy. I am mourning. Mourning.

It shocks me how much time I spend with myself. Do other people spend this much time with themselves? How do they possibly tolerate it? It’s the same conversation every single day, the excruciating monotony of emotion and thought. The only time I feel truly out of body is when I am creating. And then the rest of the time, at least as of late, I am mourning.

And for how many years? I mourned so much last year. It feels like I cannot possibly mourn anymore and here I am again, mourning New York City and all of the people I left there, plus a brief relationship I started and ended here in Nashville. Mourning is monotonous. I will feel sadness today. I will feel like I am losing too much weight too fast. I have little desire to eat anything but Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, but I can’t tolerate more than two without a self-induced migraine.

And here the anger flares up:

You can go fuck yourself. But behind that thought lies its truth-telling twin: Allie, how could you let this happen again? I didn’t want this and I wanted this so badly. I knew I would break my own heart. And I want to blame them for it. It’s not their fault. We both were trudging through life and for a brief moment, being in a relationship with them made me lighter.

And here, the disappointment: Allie, how could you?

Returning to grief is terrible. The heaviness is heavier. The effort is greater. I feel like I’m running a three legged race, in high tide, with my own mind. The worst (perhaps best) part is: this will not kill me, not even close. I know enough to know that there is no doorway I will step through and be out of the woods. The trees thin out before a clearing, the wave breaks on shore, before receding. I want to punish, I want to yell, I want to close up shop. I’m in the fucking thick of it.

With time, I will be able to look back and see why this had to happen for the next thing to happen. I am struggling to believe that I could possibly want The Next Thing if it is not a thousand people clamoring at my door telling me how irresistible and mysterious and perfect I am, tracing my breasts with their fingers, holding my head in their hand, sweetly remarking on my every move. But one drink is too many, a thousand isn’t enough. A thousand is not enough.

Here’s what I would tell a friend: Sit through it. Wait. Keep moving. Take plenty of water breaks. Cry it out. Stay open, so open that it hurts. It is bold to live with an open heart. It is even bolder to stay open when you want to retreat. You don’t have an audience as you struggle to concentrate at work or pick up the phone or know what the hell to do when you get home. There’s no one watching as you make a particularly delicious sandwich or cuddle your sweet pup. There is no one to remark how clever, how cute, how smart, how sincere. Nobody but you. Let yourself admire it. Let yourself be the one to love you. It’s exhausting to spend every waking moment with someone who’s not that into you or who critiques your every step.

Mourning is indicative of loss. Love is measured in loss. A great loss means a great love. Meaning you are capable of great, incredible love. You know one, you know the other. Sometimes quickly, sometimes slowly. Either way, your heart is a resurgent country.

So here’s what I would tell myself.

Some Container of Life

May 23rd, 2014 § 0 comments § permalink

 

I’ve noticed the
Objects have shifted since
You’ve come and gone
Unlocked themselves and
Left home

For instance,
The underbed storage
Was empty
Then it was full
Now it is empty again

There will be something
To fill it once more

Contained life is
Empty, not empty.

But wait–
Here, corner-pushed, has
The Almost Gone collected:
A lonely aspirin,
A tear of paper,
Smattered blond threads
From a shaved head.

Could we call that empty?
It is empty enough.

 

The Land of Heartbreak, 2007

April 16th, 2014 § 0 comments § permalink

I just found this poem in my old email. From September, 2007.

 

The Land of Heartbreak

Dear—

I am writing from a place

Of heart break.

A thousand beats away

I lie to you

Between sheets of golden grass

Wrestling with my heart’s infidelity

As blades bend beneath my weight.

A river runs between (us?)

Separating Routine from

Discovery.

The tumbling waters drown

My apology.

At the bottom, graying with decay,

Waits a young heart.

Watery beats count

One, two, three,

Then—still.

This is the land of heartbreak.

(This heart’s on fire).