On Seeing the Person you Love, Love Someone Else

When she tells you about her for the first time, she will be drunk.

Don’t react.

Keep a smile in your voice and on your face.

Use short, concise sentences, like, “It’s all good”, or , “I wish you happiness.”

Don’t say much else.

Your voice will show you are running out of air.

The anvil she dropped on your chest just landed.

You haven’t gotten good at breathing around it yet.

Realize that she doesn’t love you. She never did.

Practice saying “it didn’t work out”

and “we broke up”

until you can say the words casually, without tears.

The first time someone asks you about her,

You will feel tears form.

Make sure to cough,

let the tears be explained away by allergies.

Make yourself as busy as possible.

Wake up at five am every day, so you can go to the gym before work.

After work, go to the gym again.

Volunteer for everything, say yes to every request.

Spend hours writing, late into the night.

You know how to do this.

You’ve gotten good at being used and discarded.

You need to fill every second of every day with as much activity as possible.

The goal here is exhaustion.

The long, endless nights in a dark, quiet house are the worst.

Avoid these at all costs.

That’s when the tapes in your mind, the ones you have had since childhood, will play.

On repeat.

They will bring your deepest, darkest insecurities to you.

They will belittle you.

Demean you.

They will try to make you believe you are worthless.

When you realize they are now playing in her voice,

it will crush you.

Begin a new practice of having a drink before bed.

Just one.

Drown her voice with bourbon.

The goal here is oblivion.

The first time you see a picture of them on Facebook,

you will be physically ill.

As you wretch over the toilet bowl, your stomach will turn itself inside out.

You will realize then that in the past week you have eaten exactly

five grapes

and two saltine crackers.

That’s why you can’t get sick.

Your stomach is like the rest of you.

It can’t tell when there is nothing left.

Know through all of this, that this is not your fault.

You love someone who doesn’t love you back.

She doesn’t love you.

She never did.

She never will.

 

B’s Birthday

Sometimes when you do something for someone else, you end up getting much more in return. This past weekend was B’s birthday. She is a nurse in a long-term care facility, so she was working the night of her birthday. I decided to bring her dinner and surprise her. I went there, expecting to make her happy, to make her feel special on her special day. To make just another night at work a little different, a little more fun. I had no idea what I was about to witness.

I arrived at the facility, armed with a ton of food from an amazing local restaurant and a few gifts. B came to the reception area and I sat with her as she began to open her gifts. There were a few residents, but I honestly didn’t pay too much attention to them. I was pretty much oblivious, until Trudy came in. Trudy is a resident, and was clearly upset. She missed her home, she missed her family. She apparently had been upset all day, and was working herself into a panic. The receptionist said that she had tried to reach her family members for her, but they were not home. I Felt so sorry for this poor woman, the B took over. Instantly, she forgot her gifts and food. She forgot she was on break. In that moment, no one existed for B but Trudy. She sat and looked directly into her eyes and listened. She actually said very little, but she listened to every word Trudy had to say. Within ten minutes, Trudy was laughing. This sweet elderly woman who was on the verge of a panic attack minutes before was laughing and joking. That is nursing. That is a special, rare kind of gift that very few people are born with. It was truly an incredible thing to watch.

When someone is doing a job that they love, one that they were born to do, it stops being work. What B did that night will never be on a performance review. It will never be a factor in determining a raise or a salary. Most likely, no one will ever know about it. I am sure B has all but forgotten about the entire conversation, she has no doubt had countless others, with countless other residents. I know that I will not forget it, and in some way, I know Trudy will not forget it either.