Posted in Nonfiction

Instructions for Falling Out of Love.

1. Stop expecting. Fields of expectation yield harvests of heartache. 2. Curb your craving. This is fairly easy: for every pang in the hollow of the chest, tighten the cocoon you’ve made of a favored blanket; for every pinch at the lips where his kisses once lingered, taste a comfort food — or healthier: belt a loud, offkey song. 3. Stalk. (And this is a critical, oft-concealed step.) Find out how quickly he’s moving on and how. This will have no bearing on your own pace; it just satisfies a maddening curiosity. Make peace with the fact that she’s pretty (and witty and brilliant. He has good taste, after all; he chose you). Do not call; preserve the fourth wall. But allow yourself your petty voyeurism. It will pass when you’ve seen enough (but first — and perhaps longest, it will sting). 4. Remind yourself that rescinding this romance means an end of self-censoring, a recalibration of filters: let more in, let more out. You will not feel so accountable; you will feel much less beholden. 5. Fully realize the self rejection teaches you you can be: steely, unapologetic, affirming. Combative, if necessary. 6. Say aloud and often you are better off friends, not just because it’s true, but because there should be walls, low and easy to clear, but resolutely erected: piled, pebbled markers on an otherwise boundless affection; a redistricting of wide-open spaces you once claimed as your territory: Time, Enthusiasm, Mouth, Conversation. Accept that it is all shared domain. Accept that there are moments when he is not open to the public. Understand that you are now the public. Mercifully, this cuts both ways: you are also your own again. These days, you are greeting yourself in mirrors as you would a long-lost friend. 7. Resist blame, especially if you’re prone to blaming yourself. It doesn’t work this way. There is no sense in believing you’re broken. You will approach every new suitor with inordinate deference, with a palpable, discomfiting desire to be fixed. 8. Admire him and raise a glass. You don’t know how he does it. 9. If you ever see each other again, be mindful of how you hold yourself. Your every appendage speaks a language, but you are no longer on safe terrain for the utterance of old dialects. When you recall this, when you remember all the sentiments left unsaid, you may find that the need to touch him overwhelms. Dead languages are too beautiful not to be whispered. They were meant to be murmured in understanding ears, meant to be conveyed with a too-long embrace. If this is your case, wrap your arms around your breasts; press your fingers into your back. Become your own strait jacket. 10. You are not out of love at all; you are in the eye of it, watching it whip around, carting off heavy things, antiquities you once held dear. Your meager walls, your feeble resolve: collateral damage. But this is the clarion purview. Be your absolute stillest. Feel and look and listen. Soon it will crash in; it will carry you off. This love that once felt close as breath will fling you far way.