I saw your friend today walking down Nostrand Ave. We did that awkward dance of not being douchebaggy enough to pretend we didn’t know each other, but not sure what to say since our only connection was you. “That’s what I’m talking about!” he yelled, pointing to my Aquamarine and baby blue hair before we embraced. I awkwardly asked him if he and his fiancé had married, not knowing what else to say. “Not yet.” Luckily he was on the phone. I don’t think we could’ve walked away from each other fast enough.

I’m happy they’re still together. I can’t help but think how we are not.

It’s not fair.

I want to scream it for the world to hear. The words bubble up in the pit of my aching stomach, planting themselves in my heart. The one that’s broken. The one I’m not sure will ever work again. The one I can’t imagine loving anyone else with because I can’t bare the thought of love then loss.

Hours after bumping in to your boy I scrolled Instagram. On one of our mutual “friend’s” post I saw you wishing a beautiful girl happy birthday. “Thank you love,” she wrote back. You both followed each other shortly after that exchange. I closed out the app. I cannot escape you. Yet you are not here.

Our ghosts haunt this city. No place feels safe. Too many memories. All of them lingering, none fading away. I have done everything but spells and magic to make them disappear.

Every time well-meaning friends offer the misguided equivalent of “Let go, move on, or fuck him,” I want to yell at them. Somehow I’m the only one that understands a death has occurred. Do they not see all the signs of loss and grief? How could they not. The world tells us, especially us women folk, to let go lest we become Bitter Bettys. “Let that hurt go, ma!” is a popular insult tossed around on social media when women express any type of emotion. People’s pain is funny to many. And we wonder why everyone’s afraid to feel.

It’s not fair.

There have been men. They are intrigued. Who is this woman who laughs loudly, says exactly what she means, is confident in her talents and commands the attention of a room? Their curiosity does not hold my interest. I am bored. No one has shown me anything close to an organic chemistry I once knew.

One wanted to cuddle. No sex. I let him. Between my sheets his arms around my waist felt like mere weight suffocating me. He was cute. We’d hung out a lot. Always had fun. Kissed. But I was repulsed by cuddling with him. I was happy to scurry him off the next morning. He offered to take me to breakfast. I declined. He still calls. I never answer.

Another just wanted sex. I did too. That’s the end of that story.

The others are but a footnote. They will have had no lasting impact other than to remind me that I am wanted at a time I needed to feel wanted.

Oddly, I am the happiest I’ve ever been. For my 30th birthday, the one you pretended to forget, I traveled through Rome. And Florence. Best trip of my life. One of the best times of my life.

I spend a lot of time alone. It’s good for me. I have fallen in love with myself. Maybe that’s the best gift you ever gave me. Fuck that. I gave it to myself.

I laugh a lot. I cry a lot less.

In January a friend told me, “This is going to be your year if you let it.” It was in reference to letting you go. I think she was right. The Universe has come through with opportunities I doubt I’d have if I were with you. I feel grateful for my life every day.

But inside my head there’s still a gnawing soundbite. ‘It’s not fucking fair!’

You wreaked havoc on my life without a care in the world. You front for outsiders as if I never existed, as if we never existed. I hope that’s working out for you. We can ignore each other until eternity. I’ve still seen you naked.

Meanwhile my scars are visible. I pick at them, occasionally causing scabs. Once I have left the scar alone it disappears. I’m reminded of healing. The world wants healing to mean suffer in silence, act hard, don’t give him the satisfaction, don’t pick at the scab. Doing it the world’s way would have certainly killed me. Keeping this story inside of me would’ve done the same.

I hate you. I’m not too doped up on self-help books to say it. I do not wish you a lifetime of happiness. I will not rush my process to appear to be above the fray. I’ll leave that for all the women poorly advising other women to let go when they’ve not figured out how to do so themselves.

I hate you because we are no longer best friends. For having to pick up the pieces of a life I had mapped out for a lifetime with you. For having to come to grips with the fact you were never The One. For all the women — platonic or otherwise — who get to share your life while I don’t. Fuck them. For the embarrassment. For being afraid to write this because of what the “industry” will think. For not being able to listen to Nas without thinking of you.

For forcing me to see how happy I am without you.

Let’s not misconstrue any of this to mean I want you back. Or that I blabber to my girls about you all the time. Or that I’m sitting home singing Not Gon’ Cry. None of this means you were a flawless prize either. Your current/next/future girl has her work cut out for her. Godspeed. But you were my flawed everything. Now you are nothing but a painful part of my past.

Of everything I’ve learned over the years— in books, on the streets — nothing teaches you how to mend a broken heart. Nothing prepares you for one either. All the tips on busying yourself until your head spins, hanging out with your friends, getting new hobbies, I’ve done it all to infinity. The hole in my heart is still there. And underneath the hole is a cut left by anger and resentment from being hurt.

You hurt me.

I love love. I love to be in love. You took that away from me. Vulnerability is something I can no longer afford. I wanted to die when we died. I want to live now. I choose to avoid anything that can ever make me feel like death is an option.

You were reckless with my love. I’ve given up on waiting for the “Sorry I hurt you and did shitty things to keep hurting you” apology. It is of little use to me now.

But how I feel from time to time, how not a day goes by that I don’t think about you, that is not fucking fair.

Such is life. Such is matters of the heart.

One day you’ll be a footnote like the others. I’ll barely remember the whys and whats of my heart that you left shattered like a million tiny pieces of shard. One day I’ll laugh about how silly it was to be this pitiful over a man— one that is 5″4 nonetheless.

Today is not that day. I hope that day comes soon.

  • alexisbelon

    We pretty much wrote the same blog entry and it brings me such solace that I’m not the only one going through this. Thank you.

  • Armed in the Villa

    Pulling for your strength and recovery Bené. No advice from me, just support.

  • Beautifully written.

  • thebayarean

    YES! to it all, so raw and real and relatable for anyone that’s truly had a broken heart.

  • This. Bené, this was everything.

  • idreaminchanel

    I cried this morning in the bathroom at work. I wrote myself a short note. I keep reading on my computer. And then this. Thank you.

    • writtenbyBene

      Hugs to you. It’s ok to cry. It’s ok to feel. Don’t rush your process. Thank you for sharing.

  • Brenda

    This was beautiful and raw. And this, “For forcing me to see how happy I am without you.” Hold on to that feeling and never let that go, it is important. Thank you for always being transparent.

    • writtenbyBene

      I will try to remember to. Thank you.

  • Sarah White

    Bravo to you for loving love and falling in love! I dated someone for 6 years, had all the plans in the world with him, thought this was it. It didn’t work out. We changed. I changed. He changed. It hurt like hell! No advise given will be helpful when you’re hurting. You feel so many emotions – raw emotions.

    Looking back, I’m thankful for the 6 years. I don’t see it as a regret. I learned, I grew, and I loved. Now I’m married to the man I’m supposed to be with. I’m still learning, growing and loving even harder. What my husband and I have experienced in marriage (including a miscarriage), God knows I wouldn’t have been able to sustain a marriage with my ex-boyfriend.

    I have no words of wisdom or advise. Just my experience. Oddly enough, I love life more now than ever before. I’m not defined by what I have or who I have. Who I am means everything – a black woman! Loved your words, Bene!

    • writtenbyBene

      Thank you for sharing, Sarah. Sorry to hear about your miscarriage. I hope you’ve both healed. I remember when you met your then boyfriend, now husband. I remember beaming at how wonderful your love for each other seemed, and remembered thinking I’d never have that. Just by you guys being you, you are giving people hope that Black love is alive and well. Thank you!

      • Sarah White

        Oh my gosh yes! You and I did meet when I first started dating, Carmund. It was, and still is, awesome! Black love is everything!!

        You’re awesome, Bene! I truly admire and appreciate your transparency and willingness to speak out!

  • “I hate you … For
    having to come to grips with the fact you were never The One.”

    THIS! Hardest part of a breakup, because you will never reap a return on the time you invested. Well, there is growth and introspection, re-defining values and views on love. But not The Magical Lifetime with The One. This was such a beautifully written piece.

  • Letese Clark

    “One day you’ll be a footnote like the others. I’ll barely remember the whys and whats of my heart that you left shattered like a million tiny pieces of shard.”

    This, just all of this. One day.
    Thank you Bené for sharing your journey through this. Thank you for helping me remember that’s it’s okay to continue to cry over the death of a relationship. Thank you reminding me that there’s nothing with hating his little ass as I deal with this pain. Thank you helping me understand there’s a process to this healing. I shed no tears while reading this, but smiled because of your raw and honest transparency.

    • writtenbyBene

      Thank you for reading. Hugs to you. “Hating his little ass.” I’m sorry, but that made me laugh. Thank you for sharing. I hate that we can relate and you’re hurting, but happy to know we are not alone. 🙂

  • Gigi Reeves

    Thanks for keeping it 100%real and trust me, anyone who thinks it’s not, is a fool!
    56 year old Gigi has been there and became a better person because of it. I just hope the process isnt as intense and lengthy for you as it was for me. In the meantime just live in the present, and continue to engage in self, while you go through it. Peace and love to you!