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What does it mean to be broken?
If your body and mind are sound, is it possible that you can still be incomplete?
Can you really lose a piece of yourself by trusting somebody else with it?
I really think so.
I think it happened to me.
And I think I remember the moment it happened.
Waking up is always an interesting experience
Sometimes you wake up before you even open your eyes. It's strange. You are awake before you even realize it. Your eyes don't open, but you know for sure that you are no longer sleeping, and that can't change. You can toss and turn all that you want, but your body has decided that it's time to face the day.
Other times, it's violent. A shock rips through your body, triggering all of your reflexes, and for a moment, your heart stops. It's unsettling, but sometimes that what it takes to get you out of bed.
Unfortunately that day was the former.
Not because of an alarm clock or a scheduled meeting.
I rolled over and something was wrong.
Something was missing.
I was alone.
The bed was unmade, the door was wide open, and though she was gone, my room was still haunted by her sweet perfume.
My eyes struggled to stay open as I tried to mentally understand what was happening.
I groggily punched numbers into my phone and hit send.
I tried again.
It wasn't the first time I had my heart broken, and it certainly wasn't the worst.
No, some inconsiderate girl wasn't what broke me. It was what I sacrificed for her that did.
One night, a few weeks before I woke up alone, we lay together in that same bed.
Laughing, kissing, and talking about the doomed future we were destined to have, and my phone rang.
A familiar and friendly name flashed across the screen, but the beautiful smile over my shoulder had all of my attention.
So much of my attention that I ignored the next call.
And the call after.
Isn't it ironic?
Two weeks later, I would be the one desperately reaching out, frantically trying to connect with somebody I loved, and they ignored me.
On that night someone was trying to reach me... And I ignored them.
I can't say for certain that I was the last person he tried to call before he hung himself, but the empty voice-mails said more than any words could've.
I would find out about his death for weeks.
In fact, it wouldn't be until a few days after I woke up without her that I realized how truly alone I had become.
I'll never forget the way the sunset was perfectly mirrored by the river that night, and how I sat, dry-eyed and numb for hours on my favorite bench. My heart raced but my mind was empty.
I didn't want to cry.
I didn't want to scream.
I didn't know what to do.
The sun set and I drove home, and as I flicked on the radio, my favorite song came on.
My favorite song by my favorite band.
The band that he introduced to me years ago next to the very same river.
And I broke.
I screamed and I cried and I yelled.
I was so angry.
I was so sad.
I was so confused.
How could he do that?
Why did he do that?
So many questions pinballed around my brain as I tried to avoid the harsh truth.
I tried to direct as much anger as I could at him.
I tried my hardest to make it his fault, to make it about me.
When really, the truth was simple.
While I didn't tie the noose myself, it was my fault.
He reached out to me in his darkest hour, and I pulled away.
The person who I had leaned on for years, who convinced my first girlfriend to date me, who talked me through my first break-up, and who had my back when family didn't reached out for my help for the first time, and I left him hanging.
I sat in my driveway for half an hour, sobbing and cursing, dreading the time when I would have to go inside and see people, when I would have to explain why my face was red and why my eyes were bloodshot.
I eventually carried myself to the door, lagging and limping like a zombie, and pulled through the door.
"What's wrong?" my father asked.
I cleared my throat and squeaked, "My best friend killed himself".
After a moment of awkward silence, he said, "That sucks" and returned to his computer.
Shocked, I limped back to my room and cried myself to sleep.
I woke up, dehydrated and numb, and tried to pretend everything was okay.
I swallowed my feelings and tried to collect my thoughts.
I put a game plan together, planned how I would make everything seem okay, and how I could manipulate people into leaving me alone.
But over time, the pretending became second nature.
Over time, I stopped manipulating people into leaving me alone, and started manipulating them into liking me.
I made quick observations and tried to appeal to whatever I thought they liked.
As I got better at it, I started implementing pieces of who I used to be into the emotional meat-suit I wore over my broken and vulnerable soul.
I haven't really been able to be the best me since.
I've had multiple relationships, ranging from a week to over two years, but I've never been able to make it work.
You already know how this story goes.
If you're smart enough, manipulating people to like you is easy.
People look for certain things in friends and lovers, if you can personify those things, people will flock to you.
But you know that it's not you that they like, it's the mask you wear.
You'll grow to resent others and yourself.
And I did.
Every time I met somebody who could be a great friend or girlfriend, I slithered into their hearts and got frustrated when my venom corroded and destroyed my host.
What was even worse is when somebody saw through my suit, and saw how damaged I really was... And they loved me anyway.
I couldn't handle that.
It scared and confused me, and instead of risking more cracks, I'd lash out and run away.
I was so afraid of being damaged even more that I damaged others.
I left perfectly wonderful people confused and broken because I was so absorbed in some pretentious "tortured soul" bullshit that made getting out of bed in the morning easier.
Eventually, after I ran halfway across the world to outrun my guilt, I came face to face with my demons.
I realized that living as a shell of who I really was wasn't really living.
I realized that I would never heal if I didn't stop picking at my wounds, I realized that I would never get stronger if I didn't start working for it, and I realized I would never be happy until I stopped fighting it.
Now the question is, is it possible to go back?
Is it possible to be all that I could be?
Can I take risks and be the person I secretly dream I can be?
Or is this giant metaphor about a meat-suit just a defensive mechanism to protect myself from realizing the harsh truth.
My sins and false truths have stripped me down to a walking, talking ball of guilt and regret.
That much like the Snake in the Garden of Eden, I have taken my failures and selfish desires and manipulated them into an apple, desperately seducing the innocent and robbing them of purity.
I honestly don't know.
But as I drive down that same dark road, turn off on that familiar exit, and sit here on my favorite bench, I'm not the same person who sat here three years ago.
I don't miss the girl who broke my heart, just like I don't miss the ones who couldn't handle being with me after.
I have forgiven my friend, and every day, I forgive myself a little more.
But I'll never forget them.
I'll never forget that summer.
And I'll never forget the person I was before I was broken.
Thanks for reading.