After five candid interviews and photoshoots asking people about heartbreak, I wanted to hear your story. Here are reader submissions of love lost.
final chapter: your story
“what is something that everybody, I mean everybody, has in common?”
I got a reply, “Love. and then more importantly, loss.”
I wish the biggest crime I committed was to love you too hard. I wish the exhaustion I felt was from pouring all my time and affection into you. Instead I am empty, both heartbroken and a heart breaker. These two titles aren’t meant to merge, are they? I didn’t give myself time to think over the split, I was impulsive and I was hurt. I didn’t understand that you did it out of the good of your heart. I kissed him and I did it without thinking about it. 3 long years torn to pieces after 3 short weeks. “I feel so much hatred towards you right now,” still rings in my mind. “You weren’t okay to do that,” constantly hammers. I will never forget my scream that shook the car after you broke up with me. You sprung it on me, so I wasn’t thinking straight. Was I? Well you weren’t okay to do that either, to break up with me out of the blue. But you did it because you loved me.
The initial pain of heartbreak is like being stabbed,
although the knife no longer protrudes from my skin,
the wound still bleeds out for what seems like an eternity.
And then once the bleeding stops, the infection sets in,
I’m left with a dull ache following me like a shadow over my head.
And every so often, God forbid, my subconscious conjures up a dream of you
or I catch a glimpse of the back of your head, it’s like that wound is torn open.
The healing I spent so long fighting for slips away, falling from my breath.
I begin to bleed.
I bleed slower this time, but the blood is equally as red.
My first heartbreak left my bones rattling, my first heart heartbreak left my heart in my stomach, my first heartbreak made me not want to trust any man I ever come in contact with, my first heartbreak taught me what solitude looked like, my first heartbreak reminded me of how good it feels to fall in love with yourself over again. His voice so thick and empty handed told me he couldn’t and didn’t love me anymore. I listened as he claimed the distance was too much (I should’ve known where this was headed, he always had an excuse) while I held onto the hope I had, replied that love doesn’t know distance and it shouldn’t matter where we are in the world. What matters is the love we share. He craved touch, I was too young and naive to notice this before. He didn’t want the kind of love that makes your head spin, he wanted touch and feel. I was on the cusp 16 and he had just turned 18, our birthdays 5 days apart his age and masculinity and scholarly knowledge left me feeling inferior from the start. But I can’t claim that I was the victim the whole time. I could’ve ran away after the first time our lips met, I could’ve looked past his charm. He was so new, he looked like adventure and whenever he was around I was overcome with a light I didn’t know could shine so bright. He smelled like mystery and was filled to the brim with the unknown. So much that I felt paralyzed with wonder and I couldn’t help but want more. But, I feel I’m making him seem much more than he was. After all, he was my first heartbreak. But then again, he was my first love. I want you to know both sides. He showed me what love and friendship looked like. He reminded me that this life is too short and that time is so fast and that love is the fabric of all humans and if we have it why not spread it. But he lacked responsibility and projected entitlement. Although he broke my heart and although he had his faults, he left me better than he met me. His leaving was just the beginning, of me.
We were never in a relationship. But the thought of you made my skin shiver and shake, my head whirl like a storm and my heart rip apart.
Everything that happened between us was my brain over exaggerating everything. A look, a touch, a laugh. This went on for two years. Tentatively waiting at the shoreline, slowing dipping my feet into the cold, unsure waters.
My heart was broken many times by you. When you ignored me and talked to other girls. I spent many long nights crying and wondering what was wrong with me. Was I not pretty enough? Not funny, not confident enough?
Eventually, everything broke down with our last fight. Everything went simmering and burning like a volcano. I still thought of you.
Now, I look at you from a distance. I hear you saying little whims in conversation. Being a listener now has made me realise I was never in love with you, I was in love with the perfect idea of you I had constructed in my head.
And I also know I am damn worth it. I am worth more than sad gazes, flickering eyelids and lips that would never press mine. I have grown and changed, into a person that would’ve stayed oh so stagnant if I’d stayed stuck on the image of you.
It is a beautiful transformation when you look upon the person you loved and who broke your heart… And feel nothing but at peace with who you are now.
Thank you for this lesson.
Mon amour, que tu es magnifique.
Comme une abeille tu pique.
Ca fait mal mais on oublie.
Une cigarette, tu as besoin de moi
Comme une cigarette, j’ai besoin de toi.
Une etincelle et nous avons bruler.
Arretons, éteignons cette étincelle.
Heartbreak is an overwhelmingly enormous thing. It’s something I’ve never dared to write about because I worry that once I start, there will be too much to say for me to be able to stop. I could write about the endless promises we ultimately broke, the 4am phone calls that never led to anything but tears and swollen eyes in the morning, the letters pre and post breakup and all the memories that will never belong to anyone but us.
I can now see the last eleven months with a clarity that had never existed before now. I can see how we were and weren’t meant to be. I can see how I was making his heart heavy and I can see all the ways in which he did the same to mine. Now when I see him, I don’t see the same person I loved because truthfully he is not. I know part of me will always love the person they were, but thankfully, people change. Always. For. The. Better
I would remember him in the december nights. He was the warmest part of my winter. Journal page after journal page I poured myself out into writing and listened to the same set of songs on repeat just trying to conjure up a thought of him. We were happy for a while. Bouncing in between lovers and friends, my brain on the sidelines wondering what my feelings were while my heart made all the plays. We were road trips and weeknight vodka, chai tea and old movies. I felt like my heart was on fire. I compared him to a rainstorm once upon a journal entry, he became a fast flood.
At the end of the winter it felt like he wanted warmth that wasn’t me so he chose my best friend instead.
My journal entries became tombs and my songs became screeches. I’ve always been confident and strong in my actions but I was still so confused as to why i was letting my heart fall apart into pieces but I was so deeply rooted in a love i wasn’t expecting, I was drowning
It took me 2 months, 400 cups of coffee, and two pens worth of ink into my journal. nearly. I forgave my friend and said goodbye to my boy and I love somebody new now, who feels like winter and spring and summer and fall. A catastrophe of color and feeling. He’s the flash flood and the sunshine afterward.
We talked until quarter past 2 this morning but you were just words on a screen and I crave to touch you so badly, just to run my fingers through your hair and feel your arms around me one more time. I bought a train ticket to come and see you, but as I stepped onto the platform I saw your eyes were empty and I knew that you were gone from me. There is no longer a ‘we’ or ‘us’. We are separate but you still keep some of my vital organs and I love you but I’m dying.
It was your eyes first, it’s always the eyes, your eyes were a new home. You looked at me like everything else was frozen, like it was just you, I, and a blank wall. Then it was your lips, you kissed me slowly and unapologetically, you said ‘I love you’ with your kiss long before your voice could fathom the vibrations. The words that escaped your lips still fill my heart with this glowing, warm liquid that I just can’t drain, everything you’ve said to me could effortlessly equate to an alcohol stained book of love poems. I wonder if you still wear that shirt I bought you, I wonder if when you lay in your bed you can’t help but remember when we were laying there together, our bare skin intertwined by the blossoming vines of lust. I still have that photo you drew me, did you throw out the one you drew of me, the one I painted for you? You taught me about art and photography and poetry and it’s ironic now that those are the outlets I use to get rid of my frustration fuelled by displaced love.You reminded me of red wine, cigarettes, and the ocean. Although you have an unrequited love for wine and smoke of any kind, you did always hate the beach. I say that you were like an ocean because I was drowning in you, I had so much love inside of me and there was not enough of you to pour it into, so it suffocated me, it turned to anxiety and jealousy and an overwhelming sense of uncertainty. Does he actually like me?
He told me we shouldn’t talk anymore, he had told me this many times, he was always unsure. It took me months to give him up and realize that I deserved someone who would love me with everything they have, but the shattering of my heart lasted the entire two years, I was just too blinded by a one-sided love to see it. I was naive and chose to ignore it, up until the day he told me had fallen in love with someone else. I begged to know who and why and how. Even after that, I couldn’t let him go. You see, I don’t blame him for breaking my heart, I won’t push that onto someone who very clearly had a problem with commitment and love. I will always take the fall for falling at all. I will recognize that it was my mistake for going back time and time again, it was on me that I couldn’t eat or drink or think for months when he left me alone in a dark place. The path to my first heartbreak may have been paved by him, but I took that path knowing it would leave me in an empty desert.
And I have never felt love like that again. I have never felt as much pain as I did the day I realized he wasn’t coming back. Nothing has ever tasted so sweet and nothing has ever been so bitter. Nothing else has ever made me appreciate the love I have now from my friends, my family, and myself more than that first heartbreak. And I am thankful for it.
LISTEN TO THE PODCAST:
GET THE T-SHIRT: