The first day, you’ll wake up – groggy, almost as if you had just been dreaming the entire time.
You’ll reach to find your loved one in the bed, and come up short. The bed that once shared entwined legs will no longer be full of another warm body, but instead; pillows strewn and blankets piled high.
You’ll fall back to sleep, thinking they’ll be right back; maybe they just got up to go pee, or maybe they’re out having their morning coffee. You’re still half asleep, you aren’t thinking straight. What time is it anyway?
Three hours later, the sun is peeking into your room, and you rub your eyes. You check your phone: your background is still the same, but you have no texts, and no missed calls.
It’s 11 am – you slept in later than you planned, and you wonder what he’s doing.
You get up, wash your face, get dressed, make yourself some breakfast. You call his phone while doing so, only to be reminded by his voicemail that he is no longer the one you thought you knew.
At first, it doesn’t hit you. It just feels like you had a bad fight and that you’re going to make up – you always do.
At first, it’s almost like your loved one is just away working. Only 21 more days… but then again, who’s counting?
After distracting yourself all day, it’s night-time, and you realize you’re lonely (are you lonely? are you just alone?).
You see, that’s the thing about learning how to be single. You have to ask yourself these things. You have to accept that some questions won’t be answered.
The second day, your mom will come to visit. She’ll pat your hand, and ask you how you’re doing. You’ll tell her you’re fine, you may even smile apologetically. She’ll offer to take you to lunch – go. There’s no point sitting in the house. After an hour or two, you’ll ask her to stop being a helicopter parent – you need your space.
The third day, your best friend will call. She’s worried about you. She’s called a few times, but you haven’t worked up the nerve to answer. You finally tell her what happened. She’ll call him an asshole and tell you that you deserve better. She’s right; but that isn’t what you want to hear.
On the fourth day, you smile at your customers. You ask them all how they are, and when they say, “And you?”, you tell them “I’m good”, to be polite. You take their orders and make small talk while they pay their bills. You hope the regulars don’t notice that you’re not yourself.
You wake up on the fifth day feeling more energetic than the last four, you haven’t cried in two days and you consider that a win. You start filling the empty spaces where his things used to sit, with pictures of your friends, new books, some flowers.
The sixth and seventh day blend together. Has it already been a week? Your friend sends you quotes to help you feel better. You start reading poetry and make a new playlist. You force yourself to listen to the songs he said reminded him of you.
On the 10th day, you call his sister. Ask how she’s been, ask if she’s heard from him. She tells you he’s away working; that he hasn’t said much. Must be nice to be able to leave – in more ways than one.
Two weeks later, his friend comes into your work and tells you that he’s sorry for what happened. You tell him it’s not him who should be apologizing. He laughs, a little uncomfortably. Almost as if he doesn’t know what else to say. But then he does: He tells you the truth about his friend, your love…ex-love. Everything you needed to hear, and didn’t quite know it at the time. He gives you a hug, kisses you on the top of the head. You fight back the tears, you’ve never been one to cry in public. You wait until you get home, and you let the tears flow freely in the shower. You’re annoyed by how it still affects you.
That’s the thing about learning how to be single again. You have to let yourself heal. You need to give yourself time to mourn the loss of someone you used to spend so much time with. You have to tell yourself to let go, and stop making an effort. You have to convince yourself to stop wasting your time on something that doesn’t exist anymore. You have to put the past behind you, and focus on the moment in front of you. You have to remind yourself that you don’t need to be with someone in order to feel validated. You aren’t like the girls you see in movies, you’re your own saving grace.
A month later, as you pull away in the moving truck, you realize that it’s best to leave everything behind. Everything except the memories and the lesson it taught you. You pull away and then –
Just like that, you stop counting.