Dear Girlfriend

(This letter is for you. You know who you are.)

So he left you. He left you for the girl who is younger/older/thinner/fatter/uglier/prettier/richer/poorer/dumber/smarter than you. On some level you knew the relationship was falling apart, and yet it still shocked the shit out of you when it actually happened.

He left you. Maybe he didn't physically leave, maybe it was you who walked out/kicked him out/refused to speak to him ever again, but he cheated on you and broke your heart, and so ultimately, it really was him who did the leaving.

You remember the morning/afternoon/night it happened like it was yesterday. You remember how your heart was pounding as you found out/he confessed, and how it stopped beating for a second the moment you processed what he had done/was doing. You were in disbelief, which turned into panic, which turned into pain, a searing pain so hot and fierce you couldn't take a deep breath without falling over. Who was this person who could hurt you like this? You thought you knew him better than anyone, that he was your partner and your best friend, and yet he was hurting you in a way that felt like your soul was bleeding. No, the relationship wasn't perfect, and you knew that, but you don't deserve this.

Or do you?

You sit alone in your empty house/apartment/friend's living room, plagued with bad thoughts, awful thoughts, ugly, prickly little thoughts that bite and hang on with their needle-sharp teeth. Thoughts that whisper that you're not good enough for him. That had you been cuter/skinnier/nicer/sweeter/a better lover/more spontaneous/more fun he would never have sought out someone else who gives him what you cannot.

But here's the thing. It's not about you. It was never about you. There is nothing wrong with you. He left you for her because he wanted to, because she gives him whatever it is he needs – or thinks he needs – which has zero to do with you. He wasn't even thinking about you, or what this would do to you/your family/the life that you've built, and so how could it be about you? Your relationship didn't work, and she is a symptom of that. She may also be a symptom of his mid-life crisis/self-esteem issues/self-entitlement/selfishness/boredom. Or – and this is the absolute worst – maybe they fell in love.

In the end, it doesn't matter. He's gone. You're on your own. And somehow, even though you're living in a nightmare, you have to find a way to go on. Because despite the fact that the person you love most in the world has just murdered you emotionally, it doesn't kill you. Goddammit, you don't die.

Instead, you go on. Little by little, piece by piece. You find a new routine. You force yourself to go to work/make dinner/take a shower/clean your kitchen. You cry a lot. You lean on the friends who are able and willing to help, and the ones who can't (but still love you) will stick around not knowing what to say, and the ones who really can't handle it will disappear from your life because clearly those friendships had expiry dates too. You eat too much/not enough, and you sleep too much/not enough, and you change your hair color/cut your hair, and you buy new clothes/take up yoga/go to therapy, and somehow you just carry on.

You have days when you're angry and days when you're sad, moments when you're numb and moments when your mind won't shut up. You also have moments where you feel perfectly fine, and you cling to them with relief and hope for as long as they last, which is never long, but you'll take them, because it's terrible to feel terrible all the time. In those brief moments you'll feel like yourself again, but then they'll pass and the heaviness and sadness and ache will come back. Mornings are particularly bad, because you wake up each day feeling all right for about ten/twenty/thirty seconds until you remember the awful thing that happened to you and it all comes rushing back, fresh and new, to crush you all over again.

But little by little, piece by piece, it gets better. Somehow, miraculously, it does. Things you used to find funny are funny again. Food that was tasty before is tasty again. Mornings get better, and eventually you're having pretty good days all around with only a few moments of heartache that don't last long and don't hold you back. You take a good look at yourself and realize that despite the horrible month/few months/year you've just had, you're stronger, smarter, and more focused than you ever were before. And there's no way someone like him would ever have a place in your life now, because you've outgrown him, and you deserve better than anything he could ever have given you.

In fact, you can't even remember the last time you talked about him.

And that's when you meet someone new, someone who gives you those butterflies/heart palpitations/shivers, someone who sees you exactly as you are now, and who loves you because you are exactly who you are now. Scars/warts/baggage and all. And you realize that to have met this new guy, this amazing guy who gets you and cherishes you and gives you his whole heart, you had to go through everything you went through, just as you did. And it was totally worth it.

Surprise, surprise. You're you again. There you are. I see you.


And you know what? You've never looked better.

Welcome back, girl.

Love,

Jenny


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