I’ve not been writing much recently due to some reasonably large changes in my life. I got fired, I got hired, my girlfriend and I broke up, almost got back together, then broke up again, and I went on a lonely two week trip around Europe booked on a heartbroken whim. What on earth possessed me to book to go alone to Paris immediately after a break up, we will never know. March has been tough month. The word ‘tumultuous’ springs to mind. As does ‘shit’. The following article is probably the most honest I’ve ever written; I wrote the first draft a week ago and have been staring at it ever since, not daring to post it. Every writer out there waxes endlessly about the need for absolute honesty in writing, but in reality, it’s scary. I don’t want to be judged unfairly, or laughed at. But we’re not on this earth to be timid, so here it is.
My girl and I are over. It’s all gone. I know this may seem strange, but I want to share this with you, because it was the most painful moment of my life, and it’ll be with me until I die, and that night, even as I sunk beneath the surface of a new realm of heartbreak that I never knew existed and everything I’d known slipped away through my fingers, one thing remained, something that nobody can take from me – and that is the pain I felt in that moment. There’s an extraordinary beauty in being utterly, profoundly aware that you are experiencing the worst moment of your life so far. It’s rare that we are granted such insight into our own lives. When I think of the happiest period of my life, I can’t help but sigh, because in truth I had no idea how happy I was until I stopped being. To be so completely aware is a gift, even in sorrow.
Regarding the break up, the details don’t matter, the circumstances don’t matter, suffice to say it was my own fault. We had been ugly to one another, all was raw and desperate. I’d flown home to see her. She’d gone quiet on me. I was praying.
My train neared the station, and I was counting the minutes on my phone, as I had been for the previous hour. My book lay on the table in front of me, untouched. With my head resting heavy in my palm, I watched the city lights pass by, thinking about absolutely everything, and nothing at all. I barely recognised my reflection. Who was this boy looking back at me with sunken eyes and tired skin ? What happened to that face? It used to bear smiles for all the world, I’m sure it did, the wrinkles in the corners of the eyes are a testament to that. This face had known happiness, once, and now… now a stranger looked back at me from just beyond the glass, out there in the mild evening as the country I left behind flickered past.
My mind was drifting, and I couldn’t stop it and I didn’t want to anyway. Over 10 years of being best friends we’d always been there for each other, defended one another fiercely, all those 4am phone calls, all those lazy days, all adventures and parties and comedowns and so much laughter through all of it.
I remember years back, when I was gripped by my first heartbreak, I called her up and she got out of bed, dressed and drove to my house, and I got into her car and she drove me through the night to find somewhere we could get some food, and as I sat in the passenger seat and my tears fell, with her hand so soft on my shoulder, I realised I loved her for the first time. It took me three more years to tell her. Now, after a decade of friendship, 9 months of love had broken us. What does life do to people?
The tannoy announced my city, and a familiar skyline floated into view. My stomach sank, my heart, which had been in a state of panic for a week, now began hammering as if trying to break free, my head swam with sickness, and I felt furious at my body for betraying me, for being so pathetic and helpless in the face of the inevitable emotions I’d promised myself I would suppress. I’d known for days that this was coming.
My mind, my body, had entered a new state I’d never known. One single thought repeated endlessly, spinning away into deep black recesses, echoing forever. Every atom of my being vibrated in morse code, spelling out the same one word over and over and over. A name. Nothing else in the world could have prised its way into my consciousness. I remember thinking that this must be what starving to death feels like.
I was listening to music to calm myself, but every song made me feel nauseous. As the train pulled in, I realised I couldn’t make this walk alone. I wasn’t strong enough; I needed a friend with me, but there were none. All I had was my music, and that would have to do. I couldn’t find a song that echoed this feeling, nothing worked, until I chanced upon Young Fathers ‘Only God Knows’. I don’t know why. Nothing else felt right. It just sounds like music meant for the end of something.
The train stopped, the doors opened, I pressed play and put my headphones in. The morose chords filled everything, and muted the sounds of trains and idle chatter. Everything around seemed so trivial, and it annoyed me. Did nobody have any respect for what was about to happen? I knew what was coming, I knew what I was walking towards, but still, after everything, I couldn’t let go of that last glimmer of hope.
I walked across the platform, eyes on the floor. I didn’t want to look up, I wanted to spare myself this until the last possible second. There still remained a chance. Everything could be saved. There are moments in life that you know you will remember, you can feel history aching around you, and you barely seem to have any say in the matter, you can’t change a thing, you just watch from a distance, a spectator in your own life as everything you thought you knew about existence disintegrates, and all the while the world spins on, indifferent. Laughing hen night revellers. I hated them.
I came down the steps, focussing on my footing. The ticket machine whirred as I passed through. I noticed my hand trembling as I pushed the ticket back into my wallet, and again felt a flash of loathing for my own weak body. It was almost time. Just a few more seconds. The station was practically empty, save for the gaggle of hen night girls ahead of me. As they parted, the arrivals hall opened up to me. I glanced up, finally, my pace not slowing, as in my heart I already knew but I had to be sure, and just once, quickly, I looked around me, my eyes scanning every far flung darkened corner. She wasn’t there.
She really hadn’t come. Even after everything, I never actually believed she wouldn’t- God. I groaned aloud, swallowed down another sudden rising sickness, and felt my legs betray me. They wanted to stop. They wanted to buckle, to just crumple on the spot and hug the earth until it claimed me. Why take one more step? What more destinations are there, now? What else is there, in all the world? Nothing. Nothing at all. But my legs did not give way, and no tears fell. Tears are cheap; when you are truly hurt, when your life disappears before you eyes, you don’t cry. You just burn.
I walked outside, I climbed in the waiting car, and I hugged my mum.