It has been nearly four months since we broke up, four months since that chilly April weeknight when you told me, your body hundreds of miles away but your voice low and quiet in my ear, that you couldn’t be with me anymore.
I suspected you were being rash, terrified of commitment, and even more terrified of abandonment and giving your heart away. I assumed you would come around with time. I assumed you would remember how much you cared for me, how we fell in love, how we saw our futures intertwine. It was only a matter of time, I thought, until we would be back together as destined. After all, you were my soulmate.
As it turns out, I was wrong.
I’m trying earnestly to move on, believe me. I have met men out for drinks, swiped right on dating applications, and chatted up others when I’d rather keep to myself. I’ve kept my eyes up, scanning the subway cars and the street corners just to see what else could be out there.
The dating pool isn’t dried up. A 23-year-old woman residing in the largest city in America, my options aren’t exactly limited. There are handsome, smart, funny, interesting, kind men everywhere I look. One could logically argue that there are too many options. But, consistently, without a doubt, 100 percent of the time, every time, there is one key thing that these millions of fish in the sea lack: they aren’t you.
It should seem painfully obviously, Ex-Lover, that I have lost you and cannot ever have you again. It should be assumed that the door to you is forever closed, your genetic makeup, personality, and soul to never grace another human being’s flesh and spirit again. Yet, every single day, I still try to find you. I try to find the new you, exactly the same but with a fresh start, a real shot at re-obtaining the love that I lost.
Sometimes I’ll find little pieces of you, here and there. One man will have your lanky, muscular build and another will display your curious, aquamarine eyes. A few will have your scruffy dark beard and your torn-from-the-pages-of-GQ style. A couple will sport the bucket hats you insisted were making a comeback (I guess you were right), and a couple more will share your laugh. There are plenty that will share your intellect, your goofy humor, and your Savior Syndrome. And I have no doubt that I’ll one day swap music, cruise the open road, read, hike, play, sleep, and stay up talking until sunlight cracks through the blinds with someone else. But none of this means I can rebuild you.
Much of the advice I have been given suggests I should focus on your bad qualities. “Focus on his flaws,” they say. This is great advice, logically. It should work. But it doesn’t apply to me, Ex-Lover, because I was so deeply and fully in love with you.
You have flaws, yes- show me a human who doesn’t. I wasn’t ignorant or blind to your faults. I recognized that you pushed people away to avoid getting close, and that you drowned yourself in work so you could keep yourself numb and sealed off. I knew that you felt an intense need to help others because it made you feel important. I was aware that you were kind of aloof, not the type of guy to take to a party or charm a group of friends, and I knew that you would be peculiarly bothered if I chose to sing around or to you, although you’ve never heard my voice. I observed how you picked away at people, restlessly invasive and curious, chipping away at cracks in others psyches, yet ironically unable to confront and heal your own. I even knew that in some regards, I could do better by finding someone more willing and able to carve out the time together that I craved and deserved. I knew that you weren’t perfect.
But, perfect or not, I was in love with you: every part of you, both the wonderful and the terrible. I didn’t dissect you, picking apart the good from the bad, placing the bad in a “trash” pile. I took you as you were, the entire package, flaws and all, and fell in love with every atom, every cell.
I tumbled into this love head over heels, face first in the dirt before I realized it had even happened. I didn’t have time to think about whether I wanted to choose you, whether I wanted to fall in love with you- I just did.
Ex-Lover, I hope that one day I can look back on you, us, and our failed relationship, and call myself a moron. I hope I will laugh about my absurd, ludicrous belief there wasn’t someone better out there for me, someone waiting in the wings, sleeping silently in the shadows until the timing was right. I hope this silly love and sillier heartbreak will feel like nothing more than a tiny speed-bump on the road to my truest, realest love. I genuinely hope and pray that I won’t spend the remainder of my days pining away for you and only you, Ex-Lover, the one who doesn’t want my love. I don’t wish to burden you with my unrequited feelings.
Until then, however, my vision will remain clouded with you. I won’t see myself in the arms of another man, or falling for someone new. I won’t see myself belonging with anyone else but you. You’ll have moved on, perhaps you already have, and I’ll still be here playing Dr. Frankenstein: picking apart others, assembling their parts, and attempting and failing to re-build you. There are plenty of fish in the sea, Ex-Lover, but none of them are you.