(As written by a man.)
“The cigarettes you light one after another won’t help you forget her.” ― Frank Sinatra
Sometimes I’m hesitant to write about certain things that I have gone through, especially when it comes to love, and moreover, the death of it. But hell no. The very first thing you have to deal with if you want to write anything even half-A$$ good is that you’re going to have to write about the uncomfortable stuff first.
And then once you have all that out of the way (which is never), you can turn your eyes toward the shimmering distant horizons that dangle happiness and joy at you from miles and miles away. In a way, thanks to very real heartbreak, I long ago figured out one small secret when it comes to writing:
Your happy stories make people want to puke.
Strangely enough, the only interesting story — the one that we all seriously want, or even need to read — is the one going untold.
Why are most people made nauseous by the overt attempts of another to spin an upbeat yarn? What sourness lives inside of them? Who hurt them once upon a time? Where has all that jadedness come from?
We’ll probably never know. They’ll likely never write the story behind the little vomiting in their mouth. But if they did, you and I both know we’d probably read it.
Such is heartbreak. You’ll never shake it completely. So you might as well tattoo it across your fat face. Like me.
I get sick from my heart. I get rattled by the demons of my past. Every couple of days, I sense certain questions arising in my guts and it throws me across the room, into the fridge, up against the wall, knives out. I listen to the relentless wind of the voices in my head and I have to laugh.
My mind is a juvenile delinquent. So many of my thoughts are young and beautiful, but upon closer inspection I get some perspective: My thoughts are just punk A$$ kids smoking out behind the 7-Eleven. I tell myself things to make myself feel better. But the truth of the matter is: you cannot chase young smokers from behind the 7-Eleven for long; they’ll come back. You will notice their crushed butts out there no matter how many times you chase ’em away and clean the ground.
I’m a man. I’ve known heartbreak. It makes me crazy. It drives me mad. And my guess is that any man that pretends that he isn’t feeling it, or that he’s totally over having his heart broken forever, is almost always one of two things:
He’s either a man on the run. Or he’s not a man at all.
Because any dude who moves quickly through heartbreak is not a man worth knowing. Any man who has loved and lost, no matter what the specifics are (of course he’s at least partly to blame), must suffer and cry.
He must move through regret, resentment, unresolved emotion, and the endless questions that spin you out into self-loathing, the same as any woman must, the same as any human heart must. Old stoicism, for all of its artistic merit, for all of its cowboy grit and bite-your-lip-and-get-on-with-it-ness is the worst thing any of us could ever pass on to a child.
I have kids. I don’t want them to ever think that Daddy never hurt. Because someday soon, they won’t be kids anymore. And their hearts will be broken, too. So what a gift I might hand them if they’re raised knowing it’s quite normal to be sad and blue sometimes. That it’s not weird or weak to hurt. He showed us how he got through it, too.
Because I f*cking hurt. And that’s OK. That’s so OK. I’m proud in a twisted way to be able to say that and I’ll be so proud as their daddy if I can one day believe that I helped them understand that living with heartbreak, and acknowledging it, is a very real and necessary part of being and feeling alive.
Sometimes I wish more people wrote about their broken hearts. Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, wherever. All these places have quickly become outlets for our thoughts and notions and I think they’d be cooler if they were riddled with more sadness.
There’s real worth in it. And there’s even more real worth in stopping ourselves in our tracks when we begin to roll our eyes at someone else’s heartbreak posts or photos.
Because that’s when we can begin to move on: Right at that very moment when we stop ourselves from sniggering at pain. Right when we grow enough to try and empathize with it instead of hating it for reminding us of something deep down in our bones.
Silence has never been a friend of love. And heartbreak silence is nothing but a roadside bomb.
Save the world. Be a f*cking man, for once.