A tough pill to swallow.

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April 2017
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Image courtesy of Neverending Nightmares by Infinitap Games

The first week is always the hardest part of anything. I remember my move to San Francisco quite vividly, and that first week was rough. I mean, it was full of excitement and adventure… but the adjustment to not having any alone time was quite unbearable. My room was a living room. My car became a bus filled with strangers. My office door and walls were traded for a desk in the middle of large open space. Even the restroom wasn’t private. Worst of all, I missed my dog and I didn’t have a place to cry about it yet without everyone witnessing my breakdown. So I just didn’t. I bottled it up, and I waited two more weeks to before I let the tears out.

This week hasn’t been like that. Everything about this week has been familiar. My bed is uncomfortable, but it’s the only refuge I have. I sleep a lot, but I don’t sleep well. I spend hour after hour in bed, but I’m not sleeping. Not really. My phone follows me to bed. I check the time and subtract three. It’s 10:00 PM there. I am hopeful.

2:35 AM 2, 1… 11:35. Not quite midnight. I mean this thing will vibrate any time, right?

It does. It’s not her. It’s a group text passing back Rick and Morty references that I recognize but don’t quite get the context of. I’m not mad at my friends, I’m just mad at the phone. It lied to me.

4:00 AM That means it’s 1 AM. She said she had to work tomorrow, so even if she’s not in bed yet there’s one thing for certain: I will not hear from her tonight. I turn on the white noise machine and put my phone on Do Not Disturb. I still won’t get their jokes in the morning.

9:07 AM and people are awake. Not me. Not really. Not willingly. Nine minus three… way too early. Besides, I need to give her space. This all happened because you didn’t give her space, don’t you remember? I know she didn’t say that but look… if things were perfect, and you did everything perfectly, then this wouldn’t have happened. You smothered her. Let her sleep. Go back to sleep.

11:10 AM I check my e-mail. Still no reply to my job application. I try not to lose hope because I know these things take time. They. All. Take. Time. Besides, what will I even do now? If I catch the car while I even know what to do with it? Do I move all that way anyway? She said she needed space. If three thousand miles isn’t space, what will forty look like? Can I love it there without her? Maybe this is all a really bad idea. Whatever, I’m still in.

I have checked my phone more times than should be legally allowed in a single day. There's nothing there. You knew there would be nothing there. Breathe.

12:34 PM The dog is crying for me to get out of bed. He’s bored, and he’s sad he’s not getting any attention. I’m sad I don’t have any attention to give him. He’s my best friend! Don’t you remember how much you cried in San Francisco because you missed him?! You wrote about it in the first fucking paragraph, dummy. Get up and at least sit with him.

2:52 PM I only post to Snapchat to see if she still checks it. Someday she might read this and then she’ll know, and then she’ll stop. But at least then I know she’s awake, and she’s okay, and she’s at least curious about what I’ve been up to. Unfortunately for both of us, my Snapchat reveals what she already assumed: not a hell of a lot.

Now I can either message her, or I can wait. Most days before the breakup I’d wait. I tried to be patient and give her space. It wasn’t enough space. Now that she needs space, that she demands space, I can’t find a way to give it to her. I’m trying. I’m really trying, I tell myself and anyone else that will listen. But I know I’m making it worse, even as I write this. It’s cathartic though. It is the only relief I have.

3:25 PM Maybe we exchanged a few (read: her 3, me 11) text messages, maybe we didn’t. But she’s started her day now, so I HAVE. TO. LEAVE. HER… okay… like, what about one more GIF? That’s harmless, right?

7:41PM I have checked my phone more times than should be legally allowed in a single day. There’s nothing there. You knew there would be nothing there. Breathe. I join a forum for people dealing with breakups. I figure maybe I can help someone not be me. That’s my advice to them all, really: don’t do whatever I’m doing. I can’t help myself. You can. You’re young, and you’re not mentally ill. Probably.

9:19PM I have been in and out of bed more times than I can count, but still more in than out. I am tired and wired at the same time. I’m not on fire like I was earlier, but I have chased all my friends away. They’re either mad at me because I broke down and contacted her when I promised I’d be strong, or they have run out of things to say. It has been one week, and I have chewed off every ear that would listen. Now there are no ears left. Silence. I sit down at my computer and try not check any of her social media. I survive this round. Now I’m writing. I’m writing about myself, and my pain. I’m writing about the first week since plans fell apart. There are no plans now, not any. I’m a planner. This drives me nuts.

The mental illness is not my excuse. It does not control me, but it does make me feel things on a level that normal people don’t. They call it Borderline Personality Disorder, and for years I didn’t know it had a name. Depression didn’t seem to fit. I wasn’t just depressed, I was abnormal. When you cried, I cried harder. When you loved me, I really, really loved you. When you left me… everything left me. I’ve tried to explain this, but most people don’t ever understand. Good, I think. I wouldn’t want anyone to be able to understand because it means they’d have to know how I feel. I wouldn’t wish that on anyone most days.

Justin Meader is a beard enthusiast, Apple evangelist, and mental health awareness advocate. He enjoys classic video games, bourbon, and curse words.

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