"The Aftermath of a Breakup" by Jordan McCray
It’s a strange feeling, really. Your initial reaction is to cry.
No, that’s not right.
You wait for him to leave, you order a pizza, you turn on some Joni Mitchell, then you cry. You crawl into bed and cry between the wrinkled sheets. You can’t quite pinpoint why you’re crying so excessively but the tears are flowing, and you let them because this is what a breakup is supposed to look like. You’re supposed to be sad. Devastated. Depressed. Irrational. So you cry until your eyes swell and then try to sleep. But you can’t sleep because you just got dumped and his words are still lingering in the air, like the smoke of an extinguished flame.
His words. Those sharp, tactless words. Something about pity. Something about not having time. Something about priorities. Priorities…maybe he finally watched Whiplash, maybe it’s all a joke. But no. He’s not that funny.
For a moment you wallow in self-pity over his disquieting revelation, disregarding the reality of the situation. The reality that you were never in love. That you don’t know how to love or how to be loved in return. The reality that none of it was ever real.
You ignore these things in this moment and allow a boiling anger to erupt inside you. You blame him for smudging the perfectly painted picture of love and happiness. For being selfish, for being insensitive, for being the worst. You blame yourself for sitting there apathetically as he spoke. For not fighting to save a good thing. You tell yourself that you could have and should have done things differently, that if you said this sooner or did that later, things would be ok.
But things are better than ok. You are alone, you are home, and the charade is over.
So you breathe, and you laugh, and you accept that what you are feeling is not the result of unrequited love. It’s not even the result of rejection. What you do feel—what you are actually experiencing—is disappointment.
Disappointment because you’ve been misunderstood—mistaken for a caricature of a girlfriend by one person you believed to know you inside and out. It’s another kind of heartbreak. Not overwhelming, not all-consuming, but a dull fleeting pain.
So you accept this new vacancy in your life—as daunting as it may be— and tell yourself that time spent with the wrong person is far more lonely than time spent alone.
But as Joni continues to sing, you decide to put your optimistic outlook on hold and allow yourself to be lured into your dark place anyway: deep into the realm of desolation and misery. Because this is what a breakup is supposed to look like and sometimes it’s just easier to be sad than it is to be happy.