My Elizabeth Gilbert-Inspired Breakup Trip

I remember when I first read Eat, Pray, Love. Months before, I was speaking about it to some friends who all seemed resigned in their conclusion that the book was fluff, vapid, the stuff of Nicholas Sparks novels. 

Someone gave it to me. It sat on my shelf until I needed it. Until I broke up with the man I had been dating for 4 years and remembered some criticism of the book having to do with the target audience: 30-somethings who are newly single. Perfect.

I recall the book being entertaining and having some passages that struck a chord but only recently have I come to appreciate it’s true value. Perhaps it’s the relationship I just ended that is so similar to the relationships Elizabeth Gilbert struggles with. An experience that made me feel like she was writing specifically to me. This quote for example:

“We all want things to stay the same. Settle for living in misery because we’re afraid of change, of things crumbling to ruins. Ruin is a gift. Ruin is the road to transformation. Both of us deserve better than staying together because we’re afraid we’ll be destroyed if we don’t.”

Had she ended the paragraph with my name, I’m pretty sure it couldn’t have spoken to me more clearly. Or this one:

“Listen to me. Some day you’re gonna look back on this moment of your life as such a sweet time of grieving. You’ll see that you were in mourning and your heart was broken, but your life was changing.”

Immediately after it became real that we were breaking up, that it wasn’t an empty threat we spat at each other after our more-and-more-frequent fights, I watched Eat, Pray, Love. Then I purchased a ticket to a yoga retreat in The Bahamas and planned accordingly.

Perhaps the strangest thing about break ups that one is never really prepared for, is how totally and completely the world is turned on its head. All perspective is lost. 

The beauty of The Bahamas trip was how remarkably it allowed me to check back into who I am, where I am and what I want. I cried during the flight there. Everything felt sad and lonely. And even after getting there and sitting with some remarkable people for dinner, I had to excuse myself. 

The red-eye flight and the build up of tears led me back to my room at 7pm. I cried and felt so powerless. I felt that all I wanted in the world was for him to call me and promise he’d change, our relationship would change, he’d fight for me, he didn’t want to lose me. I yearned for this. I wanted it deep within my bones.

Despite being so on board with our break up weeks before, fighting for all the reasons to throw in the towel, here I was yearning to go back to the relationship that had shrunk me down to a person I barely recognized. This reaction makes sense on a psychological level. 

Anthropologist Helen Fisher has done some really interesting studies on what happens to the brain when you are in love, and conversely when you are suffering through a break up. She collected data from several heartbroken souls who were put into an MRI machine and then shown a picture of the person that broke their heart. 

She found that the same parts of the brain that are associated with physical pain are triggered as well as those parts of the brain that are associated with drug addiction. She believes the origin is in biology. “In a way, nature gave us this response as a protection,” she says. “It helps us keep relationships going under adverse circumstances, which is important for keeping our species going.” 

In other words, it’s supposed to hurt. And you’re supposed to want to get back together with the person causing the hurt. For more on this check out this article from the Greater Good.

That said, I was in The Bahamas and was so wanting to let some of the pain go. It was weighing me down and I needed a break. I wanted inspiration and light.

So I spent my time there going to yoga classes and meditating, laying on the beach and soaking in as much warmth and sunlight as possible. During my first yoga class, while my brain was spinning out of control, reworking conversations I had had, wishing I had said X or Y, and anticipating every type of future interaction, I realized I had almost forgotten I was standing on a platform looking out at the ocean surrounded by swamis. 

I was brought back when my yoga instructor stated, “Give yourself permission to let go of what is no longer serving you.” And I realized there was great power there. The endless ruminating, though biologically ingrained to propagate my species, was not serving me. At all. So slowly I began letting things go that were not serving me. And amazingly, that created space for some beautiful alternatives.

During my time there I had the pleasure of conversing with Jon, a lovely older gentleman from the UK who had the most amazing warmth. He managed to see right to the depth of my suffering. 

During our first conversation, right as I had spent the previous night going back and forth about what I was willing to do to make the relationship work (I would learn to ski! I would climb! I would mountaineer! I would eat every 2 hours so that I was never hangry), Jon looked at me and said, “the minute you begin to believe that if you do X or have X you will be enough, is when you have become lost to who you are. Doing X or having X will never make you more loveable, worthy or whole.”

As the week went on, I began sleeping, stopped crying and felt my heart literally crack open. My chest was swollen with love.

The morning that I was leaving I had woken up at 6am to meditate and I could barely sit there. My mind was anxious with returning and what I would confront when I got home. Could I keep my heart open? Could I keep breathing and let go of what was no longer serving me? 

During my last meal there, Jon sat next to me and commented on my struggling from earlier in the morning. He noticed. I told him about my fears. He looked as though he already knew. He said, “your relationship was perfect for getting you to where you need to be. So much of our suffering is ego and if we can just sit, feel and breathe, without attaching ourselves to the (often bipolar) thoughts, without thinking about how wronged we were, or how righteous we are, we can reduce the suffering.” 

Finally, he said that when someone comes at you with their finger pointing in your face (either literally or figuratively) and hurls hurtful words at you, ignore them. What they’re saying is “you aren’t loving me in the way that I need and my heart is hurting.”

I packed up his insight, my sandy bathing suit and yoga clothes and boarded the little boat to take me over to the mainland and back home to Sacramento.

The Trauma Of This Breakup Has Been A Gift

I was standing at the local lumber yard the other day waiting to order a chopped up 1 x 4 and could not ignore the heightening sense of insecurity. It wasn’t the upcoming lumber order; I don’t think anyone thought I worked in construction. It was just me. Standing there. A single woman embarking on her own household project to build some shelves.

I have been wading around lately in a lot of emotions only now seeing the light of day after my breakup. Lots of anger, at my ex, but also at myself for staying in a relationship that had stopped being kind to me years before. And lots of inspecting. A memory will come up or a thought and I will stop and say, “well that’s interesting. I am feeling really pissed right now when I think about that. I wonder why…” or “That comment reminds me of the way I felt when I was little. What is that about?” It is why I feel so strongly about holding off on starting to date again. This feels like the meat of it. The work that hopefully will help guide me toward a healthier relationship in the future.

Which takes us back to the lumber yard. Although my fiercely independent self is slightly ashamed to admit it, there was something about being in a relationship that made me feel complete. It made me feel enough. Whole. Which is likely why I stayed for as long as I did. Because to let go of that relationship meant to let go of my wholeness. This might explain why there was always an unease at being single in the past. A rush to find someone and be okay. Even if I was alone in line, there was someone at home and that was pacifying.

The trauma of this breakup has been a gift, really. It has allowed me to see how much of myself was hiding behind my skirt, afraid to come out and take up space. And finally when I was not performing for the sake of peace in the home, or shrinking to fit into the miniature space left over for me in the relationship, I got a glimpse at what had been waiting. And she is awesome.

I have a photo on my fridge of me from my second grade photo day. It reminds me how much of that second grader is still inside me and still waiting for the safety and assurance that didn’t come when I was young. I think somewhere along the line I never learned that I was wonderful, just as I was. The message got skewed and my little brain got only, “perform and be rewarded” or “you’re dramatic and often too much, but sometimes great.” 

The shipwreck of my former relationship continues to offer up lots of knowledge amidst the wreckage. And it’s helpful to stay mindful of the often untrue messages written within. For example, “You don’t know HOW to build shelves.” And the feeling that if ONLY I was dating someone he would be doing this. But the shelves were measured, built and painted, by my two hands alone. They hold my tea and spices and a growing sense that I am bigger than the little box I have tried to fit myself in to qualify as girlfriend material. That there is a beautiful, welcoming world out there for all of me.

Survival Mode And Back to Work

Today I went back to work. I held in my tears until lunch, after four excruciatingly long hours. Progress. Today I recognized what I had lost in this relationship – the pride in being me, in being sexy and strong. I am excited to rediscover these things.

Last night he and I snuggled. We have every night since we broke up. We spend the days awkwardly dancing around each other, trying to orient this new half-dead relationship where we are no longer a team. We use first names now, don’t call each other during the day, don’t eat dinner together. But at night we hold each other for dear life. 

It is the clinging that gets me, that shatters the composure. Because it just makes it so clear that we are terrified. That this is one final piece that we will have to let go of. He is looking for a new place and I recognize that he has to go, that this tip-toeing we’re doing is not helping the healing process, that we’re in a holding pattern. But the sad, fearful side of me is okay with that, wants to fill whatever tank there may be to get me through the loneliest of upcoming nights. 

Last night I woke up in the night and just stared at his arm wrapped around me. I stared at his hand and fingernails and the papery texture of his skin alit in the moonlight. I believe I was trying to burn it into my memory, making myself believe that it was real for so long and in a short amount of time, will be no longer. 

Two days ago every single thing made me cry. No dinners together, no drives, no trips to the co-op, no backup with my family, no laughing and silliness and support. No future. Today those are all there, in a lower frequency in the background. Now it is just ALONE. That is the word that brings the tears. Alone in my bed, alone in the apartment, alone in my stories, alone in my dinners, alone in my life. No more papery skin and protection throughout the night. Just me. With all the fears and worries. That is where I am. I don’t know if I weigh the beauty of having him for a few more days, just so I can sleep, just so I can pretend enough to let his arms feel like they always have and not a vestige of a fading relationship, against what this all will be like when he is gone, if it will be worth it.

What I Learned from an Audit of My Exes

Yesterday I got to thinking. I was taking a bath and reflecting on all of the men I have dated in my life. I thought about the four year relationship, about the one year, about the months-long ones in college, about the series of Ok Cupid dates I went on before I met my ex…and I had this somewhat troubling realization. In my ex audit, I realized that each relationship I was in, I wanted to be out of; that somehow I lose myself in these relationships and my voice goes with it.

This is relevant because last week someone sent me the name of a man they wanted to set me up with. This has happened several times since the breakup. Each time I have been adamant that I am not ready. And I’m not. But this guy plays the guitar. And I do too. And I was thinking it might be nice to just get together and play. As friends. 

And so, obviously, I googled him. And he’s cute, in a rugged professional gardner (which he is) kind of way. But almost instantaneously I was off, careening down this emotional spiral with a large burly hunk of anxiety as my wingman. And my fears were so objectively irrational. What if he liked me and then we started dating and then I was stuck. Again. What if we started dating and then we had the same issues I had in my last relationship and I had wasted time dating him. What if he was boring or snored or was a vegan. All of these before even communicating with him!

In some ways, I spent the last several years trying to get out of my last relationship…and the one before it…and the one before that. Reading Huffington Post articles and blogs about relationships that are doomed and trying to compensate for the sinking feeling in my gut by burying myself in self help books. My capacity for breaking up goes away after the first or second date (during which time I have a shameless ability to just drop off and not contact the person) and then I just ride it out until it is very near unbearable.

I figure I can view this in one of two ways. The first is that it doesn’t bode well for future relationships if I’ve become afraid of even spending time with men. The second, and more realistic, is that I am in the middle of recalibrating. It’s too soon, maybe even to play guitar with a cute boy. And there’s work to be done on learning how I can reclaim my voice so that I will never again find myself in a relationship where I am not treated well, where I am not getting my needs met, where I feel stuck and where I am unable to initiate a frank discussion and if need be, walk away.

Saying Goodbye To That Other Life

There is a card on my refrigerator, given to me by a dear friend right after my breakup, that says, “Hang in there. It is astonishing how short a time it can take for very wonderful things to happen.” The past month has been a testament to how true this is.

A month ago I was despairing. I was more than three years into a job that usually held new attorneys for a year or two and had well surpassed burnout status. I was living in the same apartment that my boyfriend (basically fiance) of three years had moved out of two months before. A mausoleum, despite all my efforts at making it my own.

And so small was our city that every time I left my house, I was nearly guaranteed to either run into my ex or someone affiliated with him. Then. Then, I received an email from a friend and colleague of mine who I had told about the breakup and that I was thinking about moving back to the Bay. She had received a job notification from a friend for a great public interest organization and urged me to apply. I did. I had an interview a week later and two days later was offered the job. Then the house hunt. In one month I managed to acquire a job doing the impact litigation I have been yearning for and an absolutely awesome apartment in what has become a very desirable part of the Bay Area. The sweet amazing universe. I am simply saturated with gratitude. I am also certain that this experience, of things falling into place exactly as they should, is not unique to me.

I have started a new chapter of my life. I am thrilled and excited and certain about this. But of course, there are parts of that last section that have stuck with me. When I was conducting the walk-through of my apartment before leaving Sacramento, my landlord offered me time to just walk-around. “Say goodbye” she said. I took her up on her offer. And as I paced the empty rooms, I had the most profound sense that I was walking head-on into my future and away from the life I had envisioned. It was a sliding doors moment.

I am still amazed at how real that other life feels. How real that other Deborah feels. How I can almost imagine driving back to Sacramento and having it there, like I never left. My ex gardening in the back, our apartment full of projects and stacks of things we had never found a home for.

Cheryl Strayed captures this feeling so beautifully. She said, “I’ll never know, and neither will you, of the life you don’t choose. We’ll only know that whatever that sister life was, it was important and beautiful and not ours. It was the ghost ship that didn’t carry us. There’s nothing to do but salute it from the shore.”

So I salute it. From Oakland. I honor its existence in some other realm and turn back to the life I’m leading now. This new chapter. In its beautiful infancy.

When Your Ex Wants To Get A Drink

Because there isn’t enough going on in my life right now, my ex just reached out to ask If I want to get a drink.

Obviously.

I didn’t respond immediately. I gave myself permission to think about it. Really weigh what makes most sense for me. This introspection is a new thing. Progress. For the past few days, particularly when I was packing just to come down here for the week and start my new job I was overcome with grief. I think I stayed so busy stressing out about finding a place and starting at a new organization that I put all of the relationship stuff into a dark closet where I could ignore it. But leaving Sacramento means really leaving my memories and this relationship, whatever miniscule shards remain. 

It’s been almost three months and yet this concept still grips my stomach and brings the tears. I had no idea that I had inadvertently been sitting vigil since November. Months later, moving on was staring me right in the face and still, it brought me to my knees.

The text from my ex was an opportunity for me to really check in. Of course I want to see him. In this tempest of change and fear and novelty, I would give anything to feel the familiar comfort of his arms. The safety and support that had a way of warming my blood, like clothes fresh from the dryer. But if we went out that’s not what I’d get. Not at all. I’d get this new version. Not the person I dated for so long, the person that I knew everything about, whose mannerisms became so familiar to me that in the past three years, despite my annoyance, I’d picked most of them up. 

I’d get the version that wants to be good friends, that has settled into being pals (“Super excited for you to be heading to Oakland!” he said in his text) and I’m not there yet. That version doesn’t feel comfortable to me. It just feels vapid and sad. So I said no. I said no and then cried, because after three months, after feeling like I was really moving on because I hadn’t cried in a respectable chunk of time, despite this non-crying likely having to do with being really distracted, it’s still there. 

There is a deeper place carved out for the sadness though. It’s familiar. “Oh, hello again tears,” I think. I welcome them in for a while, let them do their cleansing and then continue on to the next thing. Because moving forward feels right, despite that sadness, this enormous fear and the rapidly approaching ledge I am about to sail off of.

A Breakup Is A Chance to Dig Deep

I regularly marvel at the gift of time, particularly when it comes to a broken heart. Someone reminding you that “time heals” doesn’t help when you’re in the thick of suffering, but months out it’s hard not to accept how very true it is.

For the past month I have been spending time with a lovely man. I was reminded what it was like to have someone there beside you in the kitchen, next to you in bed, texting you to say good morning. I marveled at it all. How different it felt- how I seemed to be watching it all unfold without getting sucked in. And then after weeks of long walks and late night trysts, I realized, unprepared as I was, that his sweet gaze was not one of a periodic lover. And his plans for the future and meeting his friends were not either. And like a person frozen in the path of a scary wild animal, I began to retreat. I fell into something of a panic, engulfed by the fear of being consumed.

But then, instead of fading away, as is my pattern (that or sticking around for years too long), I stood up, took a deep breath and walked towards what was terrifying me. I had the conversation. I looked at this sweet man and told him honestly that he was fantastic but I was not looking for a man right now, regardless of how wonderful he was. I didn’t want a boyfriend and I definitely didn’t want to break his heart. He heard me. No games; no disappearing act; no fear of being trapped; no panic. History was made.

After our conversation I began to recognize how much I was willing to fight for this freedom right now. It just feels so fertile. So very important. A chance to dig in deep and make sure that I’ve cultivated all of the things in myself that I want to maintain going forward. I want to be sure I’m showing up and being honest with where I’m at. This, so that when I am ready to date again, I can stay rooted in who I am and share the fruit of that commitment with someone who deserves such sweetness.

Letting Go of the Fear of Heartbreak

In high school I, along with my fellow dreamy-eyed girlfriends, used to oft quote the saying “Dance like no one is watching and love like it’s never going to hurt.” More than fifteen years later, with some life experience under my belt, it is worth unpacking this pithy precept a little.

I have always loved dancing. There is something that opens up in me when I hear music. One of my favorite places to dance is the Castro in San Francisco, where I know that my moves won’t become a fascination to any leering men. My other favorite place is in my bathroom – headset on, music blaring. I have discovered yet another amazing place to move. It’s a dance studio near my house. All women. Loose choreography. Amazing music. The atmosphere is oozing with female pride and a complete absence of judgment. Within this world I have watched my self talk turn from frustration at not getting the steps to just dancing; truly, like no one is watching (because honestly, no one is). It is the adage come true and it has brought me a remarkable amount of joy. I stand behind it 100%.

The second half of that sweet yearbook quoted saying, I am not so sure of. As I am finally seeing what appears to be a glimmer of a light at the end of this heartbreak tunnel, I am still the most committed cheerleader for love. I love love. I love the look on people’s faces as they sit together and revel in the joy that comes from just being. I love the wonder in the eyes of the pairs that can hardly believe what they have stumbled into.

For better or worse, I am a most devoted romcom movie watcher. Yes, the plotline is very nearly the same 90% of the time, but the ending always makes me happy. People choosing love. So I believe in risking loving, but wisely. I think I have so rarely kept my wits about me when entering relationships that I tend to find myself 6 months to years in, wondering how I got there. 

These days, I believe in treading cautiously into love. Testing the waters and making sure that all of the things you bring to the relationship always have a place on the boat – that if the thing starts to take on water, it isn’t your interests and priorities and the stuff that makes you uniquely you that go first. But I do believe at some point, when there is enough to go on, to make you sure of at least the depth of the pool and that it is indeed full of water, you jump. And you love like it is the most beautiful thing on earth. You embrace the wonder and the joy and even the challenges that come up, and sink into the moment. And for as long as possible, perhaps months or a lifetime, you let go of the fear that it could all end in heartbreak and own the beautiful present that it is.

This Time Between Relationships Is the Most Fertile Territory for Self Growth

I had heard the song before, but the words never resonated with me until I was curled up on my overstuffed chair sobbing into my shirt sleeves. The song is called “No Regrets” and captured exactly how I felt at that moment and many following:

“Love is not a test
I know we did our best…
I wish you every happiness
Darling no regrets.”

After three weeks in Oakland, with all of my furniture in its rightful spot and my clothes hung up, art on the walls and food in the pantry, my new apartment is beginning to feel like home. And with this comfort has come the welcomed urge to get out of the house and explore a little. When I was in my early 20s I used to go to music shows and dinner, the movies and lectures, by myself. And I really enjoyed it. I haven’t done that in a long time. 

For some reason in my last relationship when events came up either I went with my ex or a friend or not at all. Going alone felt lonely. But recently I’ve found myself excited about this autonomy. It means something somehow. This beautiful reclaiming of my independence. So when I woke up to an announcement on NPR that Forest Sun, the same person who wrote No Regrets, was performing at a small venue in Berkeley on Saturday night, I knew I had to go.

And I went. No makeup, no dressy shoes, just me. The venue was tiny and the music was amazing. I didn’t shove my nose into the safety of my iPhone or feel any discomfort. Even during the intermission I just sat there. Absorbing it all. There was a lovely couple around my age who arrived with wine and looked very much in love. And the feeling that came over me was not bitterness or resentment, but delight. Seeing people in love is a beautiful thing and I’m excited for that again one day. But not now. For now, I’m enjoying this broadening comfort at being just me. Remembering what brings me joy and how to be happy on my own. Someone recently said of this period, this time between relationships, that it is the most fertile territory for self growth. I believe it.

The last month has been a whirlwind. A torrent of change. And with all of my fears and sadness and hope lashed to the bow, I decided to throw away the oars and just ride the current. And it has brought me here. To this new home and new job and new life. Four months after pushing off into the water, severing ties to the life that had held me for three years, I don’t regret any part of my breakup or decision to leave Sacramento. It has been so brutally hard. But also empowering and revitalizing and hopeful. And this weekend, as I sat there listening to Forest Sun sing about relationships and peace and new beginnings I radiated gratitude for what feels like the turning of a corner.

The Strength of the Broken Hearted

This weekend I went to Oregon to be with two of my best friends. One, in particular, is in the depths of sorrow after her husband of 12 years decided to leave their marriage, their 7 month old child, and the life that my friend had believed she would live for the rest of her days. Her world was shattered and we convened in Oregon to sit with her and the mess that surrounds.

Her pain was humbling. So was her strength. She did not pretend to be okay or to be moving on, did not say anything about it being for the best, did not drown her sorrows in platitudes or excessive drinking or exercise; she just showed up. Honest and raw and making her way through the despair. In that, I saw a woman who can move mountains. 

I also saw something that gave me peace, even in my own suffering. She is going to be okay. She is going to be better than okay. I think it feels impossible to imagine that right now. She’s orienting a divorce and learning how to be a (mostly) single parent to an infant child and all the while has her self-worth on the chopping block, imagining that it is a factor in how the man that vowed to be with her forever could so easily leave her behind. She is in that pool, swimming around with some scary fucking fish. 

But because I am not in her head, am not in her fear and am not in her pain, I can see what she can’t – that she is going to get through this, that her heart will mend, that she will come to understand that her self worth has nothing to do with the decisions of this man and in knowing her self-worth, know that she deserves so much better. She is still in the middle of the fire, but one day she’ll rise out of it, phoenix-like, and fly right back into the beautiful, hope-filled sky. We all will.

On Being Brave Enough To Break My Own Heart

Remember when we laid in bed, gripped with fear and the bewilderment of children and read that one paragraph of Cheryl Strayed’s lovely essay in Tiny Beautiful Things?

This one: “You are not a terrible person for wanting to break up with someone you love. You don’t need a reason to leave. Wanting to leave is enough. Leaving doesn’t mean you’re incapable of real love or that you’ll never love anyone else again. It doesn’t mean you’re morally bankrupt or psychologically demented or a nymphomaniac. It means you wish to change the terms of one particular relationship. That’s all. Be brave enough to break your own heart.”

And we agreed that we would both be brave and we would break up and in so doing, break our own hearts. And we were united in our resolve, laying together and co-mingling our tears.

It’s always impossible to know what a relationship will return to after your romance is gone. How you turn something as all-encompassing as our coupling to a friendship or something else. Two months out and the terms of our relationship are so hard to stomach that I can barely believe it.

I remember going through this during my last break up from a man I dated for 4 years. I recall thinking when we had gone our seperate ways, what do I do with those years, with that person who was a part of my family and I his who no longer is in my life? And I am here now, with him, even deeper in that quandary because I so imagined spending my life with him. He seems to have taken on an unwarranted resentment towards me (I say this based on the tone of the limited “business texts” we’ve exchanged), which has made me fear getting in touch – not that getting in touch is something that makes sense. It’s just if I wasn’t afraid he’d would be unkind, I’d probably, shamefully, be drunk texting him more often.

Maybe in a year or so, when we have moved on and our hearts aren’t so fragile and wounded we can come together and ask to change the terms of our relationship again, this time to be friends.

The Anger Is Overwhelming

The worst. Literally the worst possible thing that could have happened in my healing during this break up has happened.

I went to happy hour, feeling like I was moving beyond the sadness, hope was out there, I was alive and well in it. Then I went to the store. Randomly. 8:00pm and 2 margaritas later.

And I saw him. Actually I saw his car first. Fully packed with two road bikes, one significantly smaller than his and a car full of camping gear. It was the margaritas that made me go inside. I walked straight to the cough drop section, that was the reason I drove there in the first place, and there he was, standing next to a cute brown-haired climber girl. He turned toward me, something akin to terror registering on his face before saying hello. I left, got into my car and drove home through a torrential downpour of betrayal and disbelief. I spent the rest of the night drinking whiskey as my friend and I paced the sidewalks. Two weeks ago he moved out and asked that I not foreclosure on the possibility of getting back together. Disbelief doesn’t cover it.

The anger is overwhelming. I have visions of slashing his tires and chucking hard objects at his head. How could he do this to me? This man who wanted to spend the rest of his life with me, who cried because he was sure he’d never find anyone as amazing as I. The loop replays in my head. Over and over. Me seeing the van. Parking. Going inside. Seeing them. Leaving…repeated, again and again.

Then it is followed by some phantom conversation that I wish I had had. The things I wish I had thrown. the words I wish I had spat at him, and at her, and what I would say now or what i would say if he calls me, comes to my house, I run into him again, tries to contact my family. A thousand scenarios played out in my mind. It’s poison.

“Holding onto anger is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die.” -Buddha