Four years ago, on Halloween night, dressed as Helga Pataki, I met a boy. He was dressed as a garbage man. Or a pilot. The details are hazy. And I'll stop you right here--for those who don't know the ending--it wasn't love at first sight. It was a poorly made, bottom shelf cocktail of alcohol, hormones, and personally speaking, a desperate need for affection. It doesn't really matter what happened afterwards. In all fairness, I don't remember all the details. My memory is armed with a defense system that literally erases things I'd want to forget anyways. I do remember some things. I remember being foolish. I remember being blind. I remember being young and dumb, the least dynamic of all the duos. For the sake of others, I'll fast forward to the present. To catch you up to speed, I really thought I was in love with that garbage man. Or pilot. Who really knows. I might have been, but of course, my mind and soul are rarely on the same page with matters of the heart. I wanted so badly for that story to end with me and him laughing at ourselves for all the pain we caused each other and how it's so silly now from this view. How it feels so good when our skin touches or when our names leave each other's lips. How we wished we had realized it sooner. But those things never were and that is not how the story ends. This story has a Time of Death. It was some day in January. I can't remember because my mind is already working on it. At the risk of remaining too cryptic, the story was on life support. It never really was alive. I put it there and kept it there for far too long. But now it's dead. And what I'm left with is a ghost of a family I will never have and a heart that seems too hurt, too scarred to move on. The pilot, well I'm sure he had his mourning for other reasons. Love was not one of them. The story became that of one person whose heart is so broken that the word broken doesn't even seem enough, and another who simply can't feel that pain. Can't feel my pain. And it was only a matter of time before he found someone.
This post is not about jealousy. I wish it was. Jealousy would be easy to fix. A couple reps of self-esteem coupled with a healthy diet of minding my own damn business would do the trick. No, this is about what to do when the dust has settled, the healing has begun, but you feel your heart growing calluses instead of new skin.
My heart is growing calluses. And it shouldn't be. The thing about love is that it can't be forced. It's not the pilot's fault he doesn't love me. But in my mind, his love became a trophy I could only get if I just ran a few more miles, lost a few more pounds, talked a little quieter, laughed at his jokes a little louder. But he just… doesn't… love me. And I can't punish him for that. I can't hold him accountable for the feelings that are, now, just my own demons. So he found someone else; would it have ever been the right time for me to know? My heart is still so tender, three years and some change of fantasizing reality makes for a slow recovery. I acknowledge that, but how do I change my heart? How do you keep your heart from hardening? As with love, happiness cannot be forced. And my heart is still very sad. It is raw, and tender, and sensitive. But most of all, it is hurt. When we are hurt, sometimes it's easiest to just put up walls, rather than work through the pain. And those walls would cut through the strong foundation the pilot and I have worked so hard to lay. A foundation that is not for him or me. It's for her. The pilot and I, we have created a beautiful family for v. Yes, different, but no less beautiful than any other. Her family is filled with nanas and babas and real aunties and fake aunties and uncles of all kinds and an incredible amount of love. She is why I need new skin. Because in our family, there is no room for calluses. It's too fragile for calluses. He doesn't deserve a hardened heart to remind him of our sadness. I don't deserve that either. And it's nobody's job but my own to get some neosporin and do the hard work that I know I have to do. So I smile instead of glaring, even though I know he sees the sadness in my eyes. I turn off the song that's making me cry, even though I sometimes want to feel the tears fall down my cheek. I question my anger and find its root, because more times than not, it's about me--not him. I fake it till I make it, because I've got no other choice. They say time heals all wounds, and lucky for me, time is all I've got.