Denial. (Nothing Without You, The Weeknd)
Today I write to you to share my secret despair…I have been struggling to put my pain into prose. Our recently failed attempt at love has hardened me. Well, let me be more accurate, it has ruined me. I feel tragically hopeless, not necessarily because you were not THE one, but because a piece of me died when the relationship failed. And that piece of me was wildly optimistic and powerfully lustful and dangerously impetuous. That was a younger me, a beautifully and tragically stupid me. Believing it is over meant that I had to start over. I had to reimagine the future — we wouldn’t cook together, we wouldn’t travel together, we wouldn’t make babies together, we just wouldn’t be. The end also made me realize that you had no regard for my fragile heart. I was disposable and that left me feeling deficient. I wanted to erase the shame of my naiveté. What did it mean to adore a bad man? How could I be so foolish?
Anger. (Turn On Me, Future)
The private ecstasy that I felt finally subsided and transformed into anger — directed at both you and myself. I felt foolish and not in a youthful and whimsical kind of way. I was overwhelmed with bitter grief that was misdirected and turned itself into blinding rage. It was a powerful discomfort that made it impossible to let go; I felt violated and vulnerable.
Bargaining. (R U Mine, Arctic Monkeys)
After the anger passed, I deluded myself for a brief period. I thought we would/could grow from this together — you and I would return and become lovers again. But now I’m aware that this growth must be done apart. I no longer crave your dancing fingertips on my spine, I no longer need the intensity of our kisses.
Depression. (Run Me Dry, Bryson Tiller)
It has been hard to restart. I cannot imagine the future anymore, it is singular in a stifling kind of way. I am well aware that you do not complete me and that happiness is a deliberate choice, a hard and tasking choice at times. You are not even worth words or tears (although I have spent many on you), and you are not even worth naming, for you are a composite of so many men that have failed me, that have disappointed me. My picture of the future, at moments after rupture, always seems a bit unclear to me. Relationships often disorient me, because I fail to live up the woman I think I am.
Acceptance. (Broken Clocks, SZA)
I thought you were some sort of cowboy. A stoic maker, that used little words and great actions to articulate yourself. You were delicately strong and creatively simple…and in many ways a figment of my imagination. I often abandoned the moments that contradicted this image to satisfy my intense desire for attention, affection, and lust. Now as I walk away and look at the debris, the rubble — the leftovers — I am reckoning with what happens to love after lust…what happens to me after failure…productive failure, painful failure. Again, this is not about YOU! It really never was. It is about my ability to protect myself without closing myself off. I have room in my heart for love and I do desire another connection and will not let you take that away from me. But I am scared I will be foolish, because I was foolish before you and had promised myself that I would not let the intense high of fancy fucking and generous listening rob me of my self-worth. My desire was self-indulgent and the erotic command of our passion made it possible to delude myself.
I share this with you because our conversations have provoked deep reflection. I feel like I have left our stalled temporality — we held each other in between the violence of the everyday to feel a deep sense of closeness when we did not know each other. You and I were stuck in our perfectly curated spontaneity. The rupture was a welcome change. I craved adventure — really I needed it. Recently, I have been trying to settle into my solitude, and it requires a lot of me and thankfully less of you.
An old lover, a lovely and loving lover…you recently lost….
Jennifer Carmichael is a pen name