A Different Kind of Heartbreak

I’ve said it to my girls before and they’ve said it to me, too:

You’ve lived without him before so you can certainly live without him now.”

You know the spiel, I’m sure you’ve rattled off the same tired cliches to your friends when they’ve found themselves suddenly single after the break-up of a long-term relationship. And it is true – you survived perfectly well for all those years before you met him, so you can sure as hell live without him now.

But this is different. I have never lived without him, not once, not even for a second. He was in my life before I’d even been born. 8595 days we lived together. If we weren’t under the same roof or in the same town or on the same continent, we were still together – just a heartbeat, phone call or telepathic thought away.

But it’s over now. I am alive and he is not. I am living and he is somewhere that I can’t reach. I can’t see him. He left. He left me. I’m not angry, I’m just sad. I’m heartbroken. But not the type of heartbroken that I’ve been before.

The abrupt ending of this lifelong friendship cannot be fixed by a gallon of ice-cream and a girls night out.

Nor can I replace him with someone else for there is no-one better, there is nobody who could ever come close.

I can’t shake this off with a radical new hairstyle or by moving to a new town.

There is no app for this, I can’t swipe right for a new father, and getting drunk makes the pain worse sometimes.

I can’t throw money at this heartbreak; I don’t want a gym membership or a designer handbag or a fancy holiday.

Beyoncé does not know what this pain feels like, nor does Jesus Christ because neither of them have ever experienced it.

I don’t know how to live without him and I don’t want to live without him.

It’s a lot of the same symptoms though:

checking your phone every hour to see if he’s texted you,

hearing a song that reminds you of him and feeling like you’re suffocating,

driving past a place that you always used to go to together and fighting back tears,

seeing something in a shop and picking it up to buy it for him and then remembering and hastily putting it back on the shelf,

not knowing what to say when someone mentions him or asks you about him,

realising that his smell on his jumper has faded and having a breakdown because you feel like that’s the most tangible memory you had left,

not sleeping, not eating, sleeping too much, eating too much,

feeling like you’re drowning when four, five, six times a day you remember, “Everything has changed and I am alone.”

But where I dread the prospect of bumping into an ex-boyfriend in the supermarket or at the pub, I would do anything to see my dad again. And there’s a strange sense of guilt that I feel whenever I catch myself “functioning like a normal adult.” Like washing the dishes and singing along to the radio, and then thinking WOAH why am I okay? I just didn’t think about him for a while, what’s wrong with me, am I forgetting him already? Of course, rationally, I know I’m not. But when I’m laughing at a stupid comedy show or making pina coladas with little paper umbrellas, I feel guilty anyway. This is stupid because my dad WANTS (wanted?) me to crack on and enjoy life. He would hate for me to mope about. I just panic when I realise that I am living without him. It doesn’t feel right.

I’m scared that my memory will fail me

and that I’ll forget his wisdom

or his voice

or how he’d squeeze my hand and wink at me whenever he thought I needed support

or how when I washed his hair the long strands of silver would get caught in my rings

or how he’d shout “GEOMETRY, GIRL! It’s all about the angles!” before I took a tricky shot in pool

or how we’d get super stoned and watch The Ruttles

or how he nicknamed my last boyfriend Lanky Streak of Piss and even abbreviated it to LSP

or the little red notebook in which he wrote the title and author of every book as he read them and then tallied up the total at the end of the year (2008 was a good year)

or how he’d cut interesting bits out of the newspaper for me and post them to me when I was away at university

or how he had phases of being obsessed with certain foods for a few months and then never eating them again (coleslaw, garlic bread, crabsticks, spring rolls, chocolate raisins)

or how the first four lines of Auguries of Innocence were so beautiful to him that he wished he’d written it himself.

I wonder if people can see it: the blood pouring from my eyes as I write this in a pub on the Holloway Road (where he worked once upon a time), the red tears streaming and pooling on my white shirt, I think that everyone can see the grief on my face, but no-one dares to reach out, no-one dares, and my God does this fucking hurt.

You’ve lived without him before so you can certainly live without him now.”

Half of that sentence is untrue. We’ll have to wait and see about the other half.


23 thoughts on “A Different Kind of Heartbreak

  1. Pingback: A Different Kind of Heartbreak |

  2. For what it’s worth, eventually all we have is our memories that help us keep that connection with loved ones once they leave us. And lovely, the reason you are smiling and starting to enjoy life… well just take it as your dads way of saying you simply deserve to be happy! Because based on the snippets about your dad he was an amazing man and he would want you to remember him for the good times and just continue to do great because mopping around will only shorten your life because your dwelling on something that can never be changed! But just understand you are not alone and I hope you continue to smile no matter how hard it gets because trust me, there will be days when just want to throw the towel in cry till you can’t cry any more. DO IT! (allow yourself a 30 min breakdown, but just until you no longer get the feeling of breaking down.) Then get up shower do your make up look in the mirror and simply say “Dad I wont give up!” and continue with your day! May god bless you and your family and sorry for your loss! But please don’t let this chapter in your life end with you feeling bad for being happy because he would want you to be!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. silvermags says:

    You have pretty much summed up what became of me in 1999 and I want to tell you from my experience the hole they leave never gets filled in, but you do become better at coping with it as time passes, and you will keep him alive by remembering everything that made you love him like I loved my Dad, and bit by bit you come out stronger because you know that is what he would have wanted, and we want to do them proud by pushing away the grief and moving forward-however slowly that may be. Peace.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Your. dad taught you to be empowered, consequently you will survive this loss and thrive eventually. It is his mist important gift to you. Use it wisely, my mother gave me this gift when she passed 9 years ago and I thought I would die too. I am alive and thriving today.


  5. Oh my god, this essay is heartbreaking. Your words are so evocative and emotive, I feel your pain with every syllable. I feel so bad for you and I am so, so sorry for your loss.
    Your heart will never heal but loving the world will soothe the wound. Your dad would be incredibly proud of this incredible work. Peace.


  6. Pingback: This made my day, finding this piece of work. Raw truth about life. – LoveLustDreamsHope

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