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broken heart


Dear 16½ year-old me,
What does one begin to say to themselves? I suppose, only the most simple and honest things. I write this at the age of 24, and you’ll be glad to know that you’re happy and healthy. Your family is as supportive and loving as they always were (even when your deepest, darkest, and most rebellious stories are revealed at your 21st) and your friends are all incredible people.
I’d say it’s momentous that I write to you at such an age, when you feel so invincible. It gets tough. But no matter how tough it gets, it’s never anything you cannot handle, and it’s certainly always worth it.
When you turn 17, you will have your heart broken for the first time by the boy you’re seeing. It won’t hurt for long, but it will hurt enough that for your whole matric year, you will swear off boys, and love. This is good for you – you learn more about who you are, and what you want. Although, it does ensure you also miss out on a boy who will on-again-off-again with you, right up until today. Even as I write this, I cannot fully assure you that we’re over him, but I can assure you that his love is vital to us. So embrace it.
When you turn 18, you will be raped. Not by a stranger, but an acquaintance. You will block the truth of the matter out for almost four years, until desperation and madness drive you to finally tell your parents. You will be diagnosed with depression immediately after this, and take anti-depressants for 6 months, until you decide that you just don’t want to anymore. On that day, I am so proud of you. You decide your happiness is in your own hands, and you begin a journey to discover it – without the aid of medication of any kind. I am still on this journey, but let me tell you, 2012 is turning out to be a phenomenal year, and a well-deserved reward for your bravery in 2011.
When you are 19, Hermy – our beloved sausage dog puppy – will pass away. It will hurt more than you could ever have imagined. You’ll wander the hallway of our parents’ home, and miss the pitter-patter of his little paws behind you. Our “shadow”, as mum always called him, will be gone – and for a long time you will not be able to speak or think of him, without an ache in your heart and a tear in your eye.
Sandy, our twin brother’s dog, will help to heal you, though. He will miss his brother, too, and the two of you will be able to console one another, giving you both another two years of licks and love. When he eventually passes, too, you will need to be strong. It will hurt. You will not get another dog for many, many years after. And you will feel alone.
However, you will channel this pain into something very, very good. After much discussion with your parents – and one or two heated arguments – you will be allowed to foster abandoned puppies through Kitty and Puppy Haven. You will fall in love with the little lumps of love, who come into your life, and leave it again – and you will cry every time you take them back to the Haven to hopefully be adopted. But you will remember that you have made a difference, even if it’s to only one animal – and it’s this memory that will cause you to continue this somewhat self-destructive community service.
 You may not be able to understand it now, but at 24 you have so much yet still to do. You always thought you’d have met the man you were to marry by now, but I’m rather thankful you were wrong on that one. I refuse to settle for anything less than magic, and I assure you that we’ll find it. One day.
 We have yet to travel the world, and our savings for the Round the World ticket is in dire straits. But we’re driven and passionate, and you can trust that our ten-year plan to climb Mount Everest will happen.
I could not wish to change anything about what has happened in the years between us. I want you to be the person that you are, the happy and fun-loving teenager I have so many photographs and memories of… You have hard times ahead of you, so cherish the years before they begin.
And one more thing… At no point are you ever alone with you pain and hardship, and it’s important you remember that.
I think it’s important I remember that, too.
At age 24, I want you to know that we intend to live forever. And so far, so good.
All my love,
24 year-old you
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Reconnect with an old friend, or an old flame, a lost chance. Chat one day on Facebook. Comment on how many years it’s been. Accept when he suggests you meet up for a drink. Know it’ll be a once off. Put it out of your mind until the day arrives. Be nervous whilst you fret over what to wear. Don’t understand why. Eventually settle for the outfit you first chose. Go.

Smile when you see him. He hasn’t changed a bit, and yet there’s something different about him. Talk over one another at first, in the rush to catch up. Resolve to let one another take turns. Laugh at the things he remembers about you, and the one and only date you ever had. Smile slightly when he tells you that he’s recently single. Say good night eventually realising that six hours have passed and you didn’t even know it.

Be thrilled when he messages you to say how good it was to see you. Tell him the same. Say yes when he suggests you do it again. Go out drinking together almost every night for a month. Find yourself, on every one of those nights, in a drunken haze of happiness. Wonder why he hasn’t tried to kiss you yet. Try to grin when he tells you time and time again how happy he is to have found a friend like you.

Pluck up the courage one night after another drink-filled night out and ask him to kiss you. Sit with your heart pounding in your chest. Wonder if he can hear it as loudly as you can. Listen out for the beat of his heart, too. Wait for him to do or say something. Practically faint when he finally leans in and your lips touch. Lose yourself in the 3, 4, 5 seconds that you kiss. Hide the disappointment you feel when he pulls away again. Search for a sign of emotion; a sign that it meant to him what it meant to you. Ignore the awkward silence that’s settled in between you. Say good night without seeing a sign of anything at all.

Wait to hear from him all the next day. Jump out of your chair every time your phone goes off. Ignore the pit in your stomach each time you realise it’s not him. Hang around on Facebook on the off chance that he’ll log on. Get butterflies when he does log on. Ignore the sinking feeling in your gut when he doesn’t message you and then logs back off.

Regain hope when he eventually messages you. Ignore that he calls you ‘dude’, ‘bud’ and ‘friend’. Make plans to go out with his group of friends.

Spend the whole night checking his face and body language for a sign. When you say good night, notice that there’s something he wants to say to you, something that’s been on his mind. Hold your breath. Keep a straight face when he tells you how glad he is that the drunken kiss didn’t ruin the friendship. Try smile even. Say goodbye. Cry as you drive home.

Find yourself waiting for him to realise how he feels about you. Go on dates to makes him see. Feel confused at how he seems genuinely disappointed for you when the dates don’t work out. “You’ll find someone,” he says, trying to reassure you. Hate him in that moment because you have found someone.

Try not to let him hear your heart break when he tells you he’s met someone. Feign excitement at the chance to meet her. Hate her before you’ve done so. Hate that you like her from the moment you meet her. Hate how beautiful, intelligent and funny she is – love that she’s the exact type of woman he deserves. Hate the way he looks at her; the way he places his hand on the small of her back; the way he leans in and whispers in her ear. Hate that they have eyes for no one but each other. Hate that you have eyes only for him. Hate yourself. Love him even more.

This can’t continue. The time has come. It’s now your civil duty to no longer be nice to me. It is the least you can do, after all. Don’t be thoughtful, or ask me how I’m holding up. Because I manage to hold it together, right up until that moment when you ask. You destroy my resolve not to let you destroy my resolve.

So, stop looking at me with those eyes of yours – those eyes that seem to make promises that your heart can’t keep. Don’t wink at me. If you do, I’ll tell myself there’s an eyelash or a speck of dirt that made you do it. That way, you won’t be able to get me to wonder just what that wink might mean.

If you need to speak to me, it’d be most kind of you to not actually do so. Send a text, or an e-mail, hell – why don’t you send me a smoke signal? The more distant the form of communication, the more I’m for it! Ever wondered how pigeon messaging works? Figure it out, we’ll give it a bash. So long as I don’t have to hear your voice, it’ll be good. And if you could not refer to me with any term of endearment, that’d be good, too.

No more hugs. My body is officially a hug-free zone, all for you. I love hugging. But you’ve taken a hug, the simplest means of affection, and made it bloody torture! So, no. You and I are no longer on hugging terms. From now on, if you see me, you can blink in my general direction. Then leave. I know you hope that we’ll be back to how we were before all this happened one day, the closest of friends, but I’m afraid the most I can let you hope for is the ability to one day be able to shake my hand, for an instant, and that’ll only be many years from now. Maybe.

Bit rude of you to have given me so much ‘stuff’ whilst we were together. I know not all of it was technically given to me, but I mean, who doesn’t save the movie ticket stub from our first film together, or the receipt you wrote how much you loved me on, before leaving it on the bonnet of my car? Well, I do. I did. And now all of this ‘stuff’ is suffocating me. So, if you can remove me so easily from your heart, it’d seem fully within your capabilities for you to remove all of this ‘stuff’ from my immediate existence! It’s really not a lot to ask. Oh and if you could take all of the memories and feelings I still have with you, I’d greatly appreciate it.

You’re now an ex. My ex. And that means ex-everything. No more inside stories, special secrets, or jokes that only we get. I don’t want you to look at me knowingly when my favourite song comes on. Don’t even try to let me down easily. I know we had good times, and I know you think I’ll be the one, for someone that isn’t you. Really, if you’d dissolve into thin air, that would actually be the best you could do for me as my ex. I know you would like us to be friends, one day, but I’m afraid the most you really can hope for is that I won’t run in the opposite direction when we’re walking on opposite sides of the road from one another. And not anytime soon. Maybe one day. Maybe.

Left to my own devices when you’re gone, I will reread old text messages from you. I mean, I didn’t save them for this purpose… But if they’re automatically saved to my phone, well, best I make use of them. And chances are, I’ll smile just as widely as I did when you first sent them. And I’ll hear your voice in my head as I read them. And I’ll end up missing you more.

When I can’t stand to miss you any longer, I’ll go for a run. Once a day, I’ll run. At least 6 kilometres and at most 10 – because we both know my legs are quite short, and to run any further would make me pass out (read: die). So, I’ll run. And whilst I run, I’ll listen to music. There’ll be an assortment of songs playing in my ears, with words that may or may not remind me of you. And I may put our song on repeat, firstly because I like the song, and secondly because every time I listen to it, I hope somehow the words will pop into your mind and make the distance between us that little bit less.

I will say ‘yes’. The key to forgetting how much I miss you, will be to keep busy. So every invite extended my way by a friend or family member will be accepted. Perhaps a long lost friend whose face I haven’t seen in six years will want to catch up over coffee, or perhaps I just won’t be able to say ‘no’ to the 7th night out in a row with friends. Either way, I will say ‘yes’. And wherever these invites end up leading me, I’ll get there and for a second, wish you were with me. But only for a second because I’ll lose myself in the moments shared with the people I find. Until I get home. And crawl into bed. And find myself suspended in the moments between midnight and sunrise, lost beneath the hilly landscape of my duvet… And it is then that I will forget to forget how much I miss you. And I’ll fall asleep fooling myself into believing that the pillow around which my arms rest, will magically restore itself into you. Even if only for a second.

I’ll completely change my life around. I’ll resolve to be more organised, more prepared for things, and more dedicated to work. I’ll launch myself into a new fitness regime and give half my clothes to charity. I’ll move the furniture in my bedroom around, and repaint the walls. I’ll hang new pictures, and immerse myself into creating an entirely new world. And after all of this, I’ll still miss you. Because the letters you wrote me will remain at the bottom of my jewelry box. As much sense as it makes to throw them out, I won’t. And the photographs we took of ourselves that day will still live in the drawer of my bedside table, readily available should I wish to lose myself in them and the memories they represent. And as much as my life and surroundings may have changed, I’ll still be the same. And that means that I’ll still miss you when you’re gone.

I’ll tell everyone in my life how well I’m doing. I’ll be better off, and I’ll ensure everyone knows it, or at least, hears me say it. And there’ll be times when I believe it. Wonderful, flash-in-the-pan kind of moments where I can finally breathe without a memory of you haunting me. But these moments will fade as quickly as they arrived. And I’ll be back to square one. And if you ever decide that you miss me, too, that’s where you’ll find me… Right where you left me.

A broken heart sucks balls. It’s crap. If you asked me to choose between a broken heart and taking my chances with Hannibal, I’d order you to lock me up with the man and throw away the key. But what’s worse than the sheer agony of a broken heart, is having to bear the broken heart in public. If you’re at home, no one minds if you rot in your pyjamas all day, or work your way through every make of tissue, grading them on the efficiency when it comes to tear-wiping and the gentleness of nose-blowing. I don’t know how, but movies feature broken hearted men and women who look relatively decent and who can afford to brave the harsh light of day and not be accused of mimicking the living dead. I am not this fortunate. Not only do my bigger-than-average eyes go bloodshot, thus drawing attention to the leaky make-up streaming down my face (which I only put on in the first place, in an attempt to look somewhat normal), but I also cry. And not politely or delicately either. Oh no. Gone are the days of a ladylike sniffle. I blubber, often resulting in the term “ugly crying” to be used as a description. What follows is my list of the Top 5 worst places in which to have a broken heart.

1. On an airplane
This tops the charts as the ultimate horror setting in which to suffer from a broken heart. Not only are you shoved into the plane in a proximity to strangers than not even sardines in a can could even comprehend, but your sniffles and elephant-like nose blows announce to all on board that there’s need for a serious clean up in aisle 2.

2. The dinner table
Not only does one’s appetite diminish or expand when it comes to a broken heart, but in my friendship group, any dinner table event means one thing and one thing only: repeatedly singly me making an odd number beside an empty place setting at a table full of couples in soon-to-be-wedded bliss. Yikes.

3. On social networks
Let’s face it. It’s just added insult to injury when you end your relationship and several people ‘like’ the notification. But having to relive the loss in every photograph and wall post of the past, just kicks you when you’re down. Do me a favour ex-boyfriend, and stop existing. Delete your account and take all of the pain you’ve caused with you. Oh and running commentary, pipe down. Only asshole ‘like’ that a relationship has ended, for all of the world wide web to see.

4. At university/work
Oh, how sweet! You couldn’t have waited until I got home to rip my heart out! You just had to come and see me at university/work to get it done. In public. And in front of all of my friend/colleagues. Well, that was very kind of you. Why didn’t you just ‘tweet’ me? It’d have been far less degrading than sitting here trying not to fall to pieces as you walk away – and then having to go back to my desk and actually function.

5. Anywhere. At. All.
Well done. You have successfully turned me into a wreck. Love songs make me feel ill and if I see one more RomCom that leads me to believe that I’m the exception and not the rule, I may kill someone. By breaking my heart, you’ve stolen a piece of it that I can never get back. A piece of me that you will always hold until my dying day. So, let me give you some advice for your next endeavour into the world of love – advice I wish someone had given you before me. Giving up is for cowards. If you’re a coward, rather don’t try at all. No, we can’t be friends after you’ve murdered every trace of happiness we ever shared. Honesty is all I ever wanted, no lies or deceit.
And the next time you tell someone you’ll love them forever, just the way they are – mean it.