What do you do when the person you love says that they don’t love you anymore? The girl who, by her own admission, said you treated her perfectly — that you made her so happy for a long time, but she just doesn’t have the same feeling now? You can’t really be mad, because nobody did anything wrong. You can’t fix anything because nothing is broken. 

One month you’re holding the most important person in your life in your arms as you fall asleep; then the next time you finally manage to see her through a pandemic, working, dealing with your own personal demons and isolation — that one person who can make it all melt away and seem like nothing — neither of you can look the other in the eye. There’s no big fight, no pent-up grievances, no accusations or begging — it’s just gone. Two years of your lives — two people who dragged each other out of the dark places and clung desperately to the other. You cried during a movie in front of her, you told her your worst fears and greatest aspirations, you had late night conversations about nothing, you cooked her favorite meal — the first time was an undercooked mess, so you made sure to nail it the next time. As time passed, the black tar of self-hatred that sticks under your nails and ferments between your teeth and ekes out in spurts of harsh words or sleepless nights evaporated. 

 You try and put on a brave face and acknowledge that this is truly for the best. After all, you can’t sit around hurting yourself in a relationship that has no silver lining. There is genuine relief to be found in not worrying that you’re awful over the phone, that you aren’t doing enough to give her your time, that you have to find some way to get to the other side of the island — between everything else going on with one car for the five people in your house. It feels like someone  sucked all of the doubt and fear out from every pore in your body. 

That feeling lingers for about ten minutes before everything just kind of goes numb and you have to figure out how you’re going to drive back home without sobbing. You want to believe that the space left behind by all of that doubt and fear was going to be light and airy and filled with self-confidence. But the reality is that the newly empty part of you has just left room for more tar to bubble back up — and it doesn’t want to sit quietly in the places you can hide it. You melt back into it and let it crush and scald and choke and drown you. 

Because you know that on a bed where you used to warm up her freezing hands and forget the world can be a series of chaotic cruelties, she’s lying there. And she doesn’t love you anymore. 

But in spite of everything, you would go back and do it again if you could.

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