Hannah ActonPublished in October 2019 / Updated in January 2021
Can’t you just like, move on already?
This is a question I ask myself every day. To no particular avail.
There’s something about missing another person that’s just soul-crushing. There are no two ways about it and I’m not going to sit here on my hardwood chair and declare otherwise.
It can be friends, work pals, family, lovers, living or dead, nearby or far away. We’ve all been there, and it doesn’t get easier from person. And we shouldn’t feel like failures or pathetic for still having attachments to people that were, at one point or another, our Person.
Our favourite ‘got to tell them what just happened to me’ person. The ‘I’ve got to catch this train to go to the store and get them flowers’ person.
The ‘god I love you’ person.
Oh yes, that one.
The one that we really should have known better than to fall for. It’s always the people we shouldn’t have fallen for that hurt the most when they leave because it means you were right. But we can’t help it. Love is all about those moments when you’re minding your own business and then you realise your heart has gone on a romp about in someone else’s bag. And there it goes! Nothing you or I can do about that. No sir.
But back to the emotionally turbulent matter at hand. Missing people against your will.
Like it or not, your heart is still at their mercy.
They may not even realise it, but that makes it even worse that people can keep such a casual, loose grip on all that tethers you to this mortal coil. I’m being dramatic but also I’m not.
The issue of control is a short-lived one, simply because you ceded it the second you fell for them. That’s just the nature of love – you have to be willing to fall flat on your face and get your heart broken for the price of love. Whether or not it’s a fair trade, I couldn’t tell you conclusively. Maybe it is; maybe it isn’t.
There’s more to life than relationships but love as a mode of affection and connection is pretty much the sum total of life.
Confused? Don’t be.
While relationships may come and go, you have many other types of love around you. That isn’t to say that filial heartbreak or loss is any more bearable than romantic losses. None of it is fun, but here we are, all binging Gilmore Girls again in 2019 and pretending it aged well.
Anyhow, here’s an uplifting quote from the Lumineers: ‘it’s better to feel pain//than nothing at all’.
As far as cheesy folk songs go, it’s a good ‘un.
I would also love to pretend that I could sit down and write this article while ignoring a text from an ex-Person that I saw right before I opened my laptop. Unfortunately, I’ve already stopped writing three times to debate replying, to screenshot and ask for advice, and to respond against all received advice.
I can, however, offer a portfolio of reasons why we’re all suffering the same fate and to reassure you that it will pass.
Write your feelings down. I mean, it’s what I do occupationally. Writing is therapy, and often you’ll find yourself writing about things that you didn’t even realise were bothering you. Moreover, if you form a casual diary – not a full-blown emotions log by any means – it means you can track how you’re feeling. You can see how you felt after a previous breakup, or how you felt a month after. 6 months after. It gives you hope and proves in the enduring human ability to manage where all signs otherwise indicate that we can’t. Oh, how we love a paradox.
Another thing that helps is comfort.
Comfort food, comforting entertainment, warmth, going home. Basically, put a scarf on, listen to the best ABBA playlist that Spotify has for you, and get on that train home while you re-read Lord of the Rings for the umpteenth time. But seriously, visit your parents. They’ll remind you what love feels like and that you aren’t lacking it entirely.
But what is the crux of missing someone?
Knowing what they offered you, or knowing that they no longer offer those things. Or is it knowing that they might be offering it to someone else now. Someone who isn’t you.
It’s really difficult to feel a general sense of loss when you miss someone. But it’s also important and healthy to try to unravel some of the emotions brewing in that concoction of existential dread. There will definitely be a loss, for sure. Plus jealousy and spite – that goes without saying. Then a touch of sadness, because you won’t see them anymore, and honestly that sucks. But we also build these people up in our heads a tiny bit – for better or for worse – and everything is selectively amplified.
Their flaws (and boy, were there many) dissolve into their charm and wit and generosity. Meanwhile, the final fight that ended it all plays on in the background of your head, so there’s also some good old fashioned guilt and regret. Next, we spiral into a big slough of self-hatred or lamenting the general state of existence. Here, we spare a thought for the political climate and further sink into our woes. And finally, because we want emotional catharsis and a reason to cry other than our own heartache, we blast out Adele’s finest singles. The really somber belting ones, you know the type.
Then you wake up the next day from the sofa, dust off the crumbs and go about your day. Kinda.
But you maybe get another hour of sleep. Or you cry-laugh at your sister’s new fringe in addition to cry-sobbing for yourself. You should do both. That fringe was really very unfortunate.
So maybe this isn’t a tell-all about how to solve the world’s or even my own problems. But keep an eye on the tub of Ben&Jerry’s as you make your way through it. It may not make you feel better. Or, it might.
But either way you will reach the bottom. In all the senses.
And my lovelies, it is honestly only up from there, even if you’re back again in a week. Celebrate what went well. You aren’t the only one missing people. We will all walk together and move on.
Moving on doesn’t mean forgetting or not learning from people that have left us. It just means we keep moving.