A few months back, an Autostraddle reader asked me on formspring for advice dealing with a breakup — my girlfriend of 2 1/2 years just broke up with me because she doesnt think she’s gay. we live together. i feel completely empty, and like i’m actually going to die because i can’t eat. i mean i have a lot of emotional problems already, but is it normal? — and I answered it, mostly by transcribing a letter from my friend Krista. She’d written it to me in the summer of 2003 when we were 22 and a boy had just broken my heart and I couldn’t eat, or think really, or do anything besides play computer games, do drugs, run, go to work, drink, and fight with him.
After I posted the answer on formspring I got a surprisingly significant amount of comments/emails about this letter and its supreme wisdom. Many suggested I share this wisdom with the world here on Autostraddle dot com.
So here we are, with this email that Krista wrote me during my Summer of Extreme Discontent which I still keep around because she was right and it was good.
This is part of it:
Even though sometimes the world seems about six sizes too small for our pain, the amazing shit is that no matter how deep purple the bruise is, no matter how dark and overwhelming and miserable and worthless it all seems the world will get a fraction of an inch bigger every day.
Really, every fucking day.
And you won’t notice it for a long time until suddenly, one day, it’s only five times too small for your pain and then four and then the world will just keep getting larger and larger in comparison to your shattered heart and eventually it will be able to hold it and then it will outgrow it.
And your pain will be just a speck in your world.
It is supposed to feel like the end of the world right now. That, my beautiful dearest Ris, is how you know that it was worth it. That is why it was one of the relationships that shook your core and after which you will never be the same. That is how you know that you are growing up and are experiencing shit rather than living safely in risk-free choices….
The world is supposed to feel as though it is ending and you are supposed to know only in the most dormant recesses of the backmost corner of your soul that it will not be like this forever.
You are supposed to feel acutely and lucidly that everything is over that your purpose for life is worthless and that not even cheesy pasta and molly ringwald movies are going to make you smile, and you are supposed to know opaquely and elusively and abstractly that everything is not over and that your purpose in life is so much huger than you can ever imagine and is still saturated with value and that you will eat pesto and read Stephen Dunn and live in Manhattan and have stacks of waffles at corner diners with girlfriends and spend inordinate amounts of money on bath products and sunbathe on the roof reading trashy novels and you will will will will will will will love again.
I did not think that I was going to be able to ever breathe without shaking again after J broke up with me, let alone successfully love and fuck again.
That is what you are supposed to think.
I cried hysterically for months.
I wept so much that I had stewardesses on planes ask me if I needed oxygen, I had waitresses refuse to serve me, I had strangers approach me with offers of help.
Then I stopped.
Then I started again and stopped again and started again and then stopped for good…
… I promise you will survive, and with more grace than you can now imagine and that you will have more grit and vision because of it.
Moral: Sometimes someone can crack open something that feels very safe and make you unreasonably vulnerable: you will live to tell the story of this shock.
That was nearly seven years ago. Krista got married last year and I went on to heal my little baby heart and have other relationships, and when I started dating my first girlfriend in 2007, the boy who broke my heart in 2003 wrote me and asked me who are you now, who is this person i see on the internet, what happened to you, you’ve changed so much, i miss your face and how we were, and I thought, you know what, you’re right. I have changed. I’m not the girl with the half-broken heart anymore. I’m really just not that girl anymore.
So, my dear brokenhearted girls who often email/formspring the editors of this website for advice on how to cope with your compromised heart — you will live to tell the story of this shock.
It’s worth adding that only about a year earlier, I’d been the one breaking someone’s heart and I asked Krista for advice then, too, and she was right then, too. Here’s a little bit of that, for the finale:
“We are trained in this Republican sappy fuck of a society peppered with Sandra Bullock movies that somehow his haircut and not liking the things you like are superficial and all that matters is that you love each other. THIS IS NOT TRUE. Loving someone and making a life with them are separate spheres, they have nothing to do with each other. When you find someone where there is both, that’s when you win. But they’re not contingent qualities.
You have to surround yourself with life that brings out what you like about yourself, not what’s easy. It’s impossible to do sometimes, but it’s something to strive for.”