Falling out of Love and Why It Hurts More Than Getting Your Heart Broken
We all know about heartbreak, but what comes after?
All the movies and books and songs talk about falling in love. It is all romanticized... hyper-romanticized. But what about falling out of love? Why don't more people talk about that?
Falling in love is so easy... it doesn't matter what you have to give up or compromise on. There's a reason the English language has determined "falling" to be the appropriate verb for it. You just let go, jump off the edge. And even though I've never been skydiving I know that when you're falling, it feels like flying. Love feels like flying, at least for the first few moments.
Heartbreak shows up almost as much. And until recently I never knew there was a distinction between heartbreak and falling out of love. I guess it's the same as not knowing the distinction between infatuation and love. You don't know until you've been in both.
Maybe it's because heartbreak is a much more general term than falling out of love. Death, disappointment, letting go, learning that things are not what you thought they were... Our hearts can break from so much more than just the loss of romantic love. Because our hearts hold so much more than just romantic love. And the best creators know this. They write/ sing/ film things that are meant to resonate with the broadest possible spectrum within their intended audience... thus the generality and relatability of what we've learned to call heartbreak. We know it from a single word, with no context.
Falling out of love is so different. Now I can't even consider it to stem from the same root as heartbreak. What I've learned about falling out of love I think can be equally applied to unrequited and requited love. For both types of love, though they hold so many differences, there comes a point at which we realize, wow, this is not what I thought. This is not progressing. This doesn't exist how I thought it did. This is over. This is dead. And with that realization, suddenly the dreamworld that swirled and stormed so beautifully in your mind for so long has cracked, you are being scorched by the lightning, you are shivering from the rain. Everyone's dream world looks different. Even from your first love to your next, they will look different. Mine generally holds water-colored, Instagram-post snapshots of what things could look like. What things would have looked like if it all played out how I hoped. And I realized I was falling out of love when I opened up my dreamworld Instagram feed and saw that I had deleted half of the pictures and the ones that remained I didn't like anymore.
I thought it would have been freeing, falling out of the love I had felt trapped in for so long. I thought it would be a weight off my shoulders. But it hurt more than I'd ever imagined to let go. All those dreams of my love finally culminating shattered. All the snapshots of us living happily ever after got burned by the heartbreak. And when you spend years hoping for something so much, waking up to find that you don't or can't want it anymore so easily tears all that hope away with it. Trying to recover from heartbreak is all pressure. Pressure, bandages, tourniquets. And when the wound finally starts to heal, you just want to rip the bandage off. But sometimes, if you don't wait long enough or if you wait too long, all that skin gets ripped away. Doesn't it make sense how that could hurt just as much as the wound?
I found myself having to readjust my thoughts more than anything. I spent most of my waking hours recentering my aspirations toward something different, away from the desire for that love to work out that overwhelmed my mind for so long. And I spent most of my sleeping hours slipping so easily into dreams of him coming back, rescuing me from the pain of having to let him go. Yet every morning after those dreams, I still wake up to the same strange new world that he no longer lives in. Everyday you redirect your gaze, hoping that your feet will follow.
I've lost track of how many times I've picked up my phone to text him and then put it back down. He's gone. Let it go. When the pain is no longer as fresh, when the heartbreak begins to fade, it becomes easier to return to old habits. You have to rip yourself from them over and over, again and again, peeling back layers of skin until you get to the parts the love didn't reach. And the deeper the love, the deeper the reach. The deeper the love, the more you have to shed. He's gone. Let it go. I guess that's what falling out of love really comes down to: letting go.