A thank you to my ex

I have playlists for men in my life with which I have had a significant romantic connection. So far, I have three.

When I listen to the playlist of the man that caused me so much pain and doubt for five years, I can only think of how much I have grown through that period, and afterwards. I look at the progression of songs:

from the first songs he sent me, so full of hope and young love —

to the songs I listened to one year in, so full of pleading, asking him to stop the hurt —

to the bittersweet songs that I played for him as I let him go, slowly and lovingly.

My playlist for him has evolved; but then again, so have I.

* * *

I started this blog while I was with him. In fact, he is the reason I started this blog. The first words I typed in were efforts to be understood by the world at large — if he couldn’t understand me, then maybe someone else out there would.

Eventually, they became words that felt healing to me, like a cool salve that I applied to wounds that were there before even him. I communed with my past through my words, and through this process, turned myself inside out. It was painful, but joyful. I relived my trauma every time my fingers flew across my keyboard. Through this blog, I’ve written about him, about other loves, but mostly, about myself — and that’s what I have needed the most.

And because of this, I want to thank him for being the gateway to this world of catharsis; for being the initial struggle I had to overcome before I truly got to the hard stuff; for necessitating this blog that accepts my beautiful and my ugly.

* * *

Here are three songs
dedicated to each phase of our love:

The budding romance;

The suffocating love;

The ebbing breakup.

* * *


Daily Post prompt: Gate


A gentle rain

Dear Kevin,

We slow-danced in the kitchen today, with tears running down our cheeks. We listened to my playlist — it’s one of my sadder ones, the one for breaking up and other associated emotions. We listened to each song, moving from one spot in the kitchen to the next… You sitting on a stool, me standing in front of you, looking into each other’s eyes… Or me rinsing the spinach in the sink, you coming up behind me, lightly grazing my hair.

We’ve done this routine every year for the last three years — this song-and-dance of sorrow and slow goodbyes. First, I start looking for an apartment. Then, I tell you I’m leaving. Then, you spend the next few days breaking out in tears asking me to stay. It’s not really a fight, with screaming and high decibels. It’s really more like a gentle rain, pouring down from our eyes endlessly for days, rinsing all the badness away. After the storm has passed, you acquiesce sadly, telling me I can take the new bag of rice with me, or something just as innocuous.

I still love you so much. But I know you’re not good for me. I think, one day, you’ll realize how much I’ve taught you to open your heart and let yourself be vulnerable. I can’t be held back from achieving my true potential anymore, when I have this overwhelming capacity to love and empathize and understand. It can’t be limited to one person — it can’t be limited to just you, like you want.

I’m doing something new this year. Every time I say something harsh, like “I’m not in love with you anymore,” or “you’re suffocating me,” I rub my hand firmly over your heart, hoping to massage its pain away. The first time I did it, you said, “That doesn’t help, because you’re the one causing it.” But I think it helps you recognize that this pain, though immediately tangible, will one day wear away, just like any physical hurt. You’ll take me with you wherever you go, and it will be reciprocated by me, for an entire lifetime. It reminds me of the great Fiona Apple’s song, “Love Ridden”:

No, not “baby” anymore — if I need you
I’ll just use your simple name
Only kisses on the cheek from now on
And in a little while, we’ll only have to wave