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Photo Credit: @artxdepartment

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'Love Grief'

EVELYN FABER 

Last night I burst into tears at 4am. The big fat ugly tears that pour out of you uncontrollably in heaving sobs. Sitting cross-legged on my bed gripping my hot water bottle so tightly I thought it might spurt tepid water all over my room, I sobbed about a boy. I know I know, I’m not special, we’ve all cried over someone, such is life. What’s bizarre about this particular cry is that it was about a boy who is completely irrelevant to my life now. I’m seeing someone who is kind and funny and sexy, I absolutely fancy the pants off him and yet last night this boy from my past seeped into my brain and ruined my night. 

 

For context, I was seeing (‘seeing’ being a vastly generous term in hindsight) this boy in the summer of 2021. He was your classic ‘softboi’, the proud owner of a skateboard, guitar(s) and an obscene amount of hanging plants. He was sweet and attentive and open about his shitty mental health but also totally and completely emotionally unavailable. He would reply to my texts when it was convenient for him, usually when he was horny and would make minimal effort to actually see me (he also only typed in lowercase letters which I now realise is definitely a red flag). When I came back to university last September my mates told me that I had to move on, that this boy was toxic and I deserved better; my friend would tell me over and over again ‘if he wanted to, he would’ (honestly a very good mantra to live by). Of course, I already knew all of that but it was too late by then, this boy had me completely on the hook. He would text me every now and then out of the blue saying he missed me and once again my whole life would revolve around him whilst I told my friends that I had moved on. It was a sad, never-ending state of affairs. 

 

This summer, we made plans to see each other once I’d returned from university. On the day we were supposed to meet up he left me on read. A month later he sent me a woefully apologetic text begging to meet up so he could explain himself. Whether it was my naive desire to see the best in people or the fact that I was still secretly obsessed with him, I agreed. Take a wild guess what happened. Yep, he ghosted me again. This time I wasn’t just sad and humiliated, I was angry. And so, sometime in July 2022 I finally, FINALLY came to understand that I could never let this boy back into my life. 

 

Not long after, I met the best person ever who treats me like an actual human being with actual feelings. As it turns out, that irritating line about meeting the right person when you’re least expecting it is true. So now I find myself in unchartered territory, in a happy relationship whilst also experiencing something I’ve decided to call love grief. Because I really do believe I loved this boy. A warped, unhealthy, unrequited kind of love but love, nonetheless. The repercussions and realisations that come after romance gone wrong are painful, unavoidable and, I think, instigate various forms of grief. Mine is grief for something lost that never actually existed in the first place. 

 

When I woke up this morning I felt embarrassed and guilty. Embarrassed because in the harsh light of day, my random 4am outburst seemed childish and dramatic. Guilty because I felt disloyal to my current partner. And yet, grief is a natural human response to trauma and manifests itself in the strangest of ways. This response is something that should be validated not bottled up. Traumatised is a scary word and one that shouldn’t be thrown around lightly but so far, I am yet to come up with a better way of describing how this toxic situation-ship left me feeling. For so long, I felt so worthless and I don’t think that’s a feeling that just goes away overnight. 

 

Like any other form of grief, time is the greatest healer. There are good days and bad days. At first, the good days feel unreachable but then those bad days get better and better until eventually, without realising it, you feel okay again. Annoyingly, it’s also a non-linear process, you can be okay for a really long time and then get blindsided by a random trigger. Unfollowing someone on Instagram does not stop them from infiltrating your thoughts months or even years down the line. I wasn’t crying last night because I still love that boy, I was crying about the hurt he made me feel. But I know, for the most part, that hurt has almost completely faded away. And even though love continues to hurt us over and over again, the world will keep spinning and we will keep patching ourselves up.

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