At age 7, I realized nothing lasts forever. I watched my mom pick up the cracked Budweiser bottles off the floor, clear out half the dusty closet, and take our family photos out of frames. The next day, dad drove away in the red Jeep. That was the last time I ever saw him.
After that, I got good at goodbyes. It was a process- reject, remorse, reboot. First, I remember all the things they had done to me. Then, I take exactly two days to cry and drown myself in ice cream. After that, I go on with life as if they never existed at all.
That was until I met Emmett. We never had the kind of whirlwind romance you see on the screen. We barely grazed lips in the public, let alone mauled each other like they do in romantic comedies. I never thought he was all that perfect. He wore Hawaiian shirts with Vans, sung Taylor Swift songs in the car, and sent me Snapchats with dorky filters. I never thought I would fall for him. When I did, I never thought I would actually care.
We dated exactly ten months and three days. Nothing out of the ordinary. It wasn’t too short or too long of a time period. Enough time to make useless Walmart trips, eat ice cream in the freezing cold, and ditch school together. Not enough time to make a quick trip to Vegas and get hitched overnight. But, now he was gone. None of that mattered.
When he left me, I turned to my three R’s. It had become my religion at this point. I tried to make him a villain. The time he asked me where my dad was. The time he told me I needed to deal with loss better. The time he said I should try to change. It worked. I moved onto cartons of Rocky Road ice cream and binge watching Big Little Lies. It worked. And then, I attempted to forget about him and move on. It didn’t work.
My system was flawed, and so was I. I had gashes on my arms from the razor, bruises on my neck from the rope, and scars in my throat from the poison. For the first time, my body had malfunctioned. And, I, was the reason why.
I wasn’t good at goodbyes. I wasn’t good at pressing refresh. I wasn’t good at anything at all. I had spent my whole life trying to pretend I was okay. The truth is- I wasn’t. Each time someone left me, it felt like a punch to my stomach. Eventually, the punches had drained the life out of me.
I spent years blaming Emmett for what happened. I thought he was the reason for me having to spend months in the hospital. It wasn’t Emmett. My process was flawed. The three R’s had become one- regret. I regret throwing my phone at Emmett when he asked me about my dad, I regret reminding him about his mom’s death when he told me to deal with loss better. I regret closing the door on him when he told me I should try to change. I regret, but I can’t rewind. And so, I continue to live through memories.