How To Not Say “I Miss You”


Sometimes it’s impossible to remember the bad things. You remember things like when they carried your bags out of Duane Reade for you even though you only bought some Tostitos and a toothbrush, as if your frail lady hands would crumble under the weight of the corn chips. You remember when they told you that you were the most beautiful creature they’d ever seen, even prettier in person than your pictures. You can still feel their fingers brushing your hair away from your face when it was blowing in the wind.

You start to relate to Taylor Swift lyrics because losing him was blue like you’ve never known and remembering him comes in flashbacks and echoes, and forgetting him is like trying to know somebody you’ve never met, and then you have to deal with the fact that Taylor Swift is essentially the most accurate representation of your life at this point which only makes you feel worse. It’s easy to remember the good things because those were what made you feel electric and alive and warm and golden.

You don’t remember that you kind of noticed the signs all along, ignored the red flags. Like how he would glance at you funny if you reached for a piece of bread at brunch, as if you didn’t really need those extra carbs. Or when he casually admitted six months into your relationship that he is #unclear about what you even do for a living. Or that he used to use literal movie quotes and song lyrics to express true emotion over the phone — “You make me want to be a better man,” he said, as if Jack Nicholson hadn’t said the same thing to Helen Hunt a decade beforehand in “As Good As It Gets.”

It’s not easy to remember that this person loved an idea of you. He did not love you. He loved Carrie Bradshaw. He loved the cute “writer” in New York City who never asked him for anything, who posted clever but never vulgar Facebook statuses and who certainly never needed an explanation for his shitty behavior. The “girl” he loved did not have your newfound self-esteem and success that you struggled for and triumphantly acquired for yourself. His “girl” patiently waited for texts, and never complained when they arrived a day later than promised. She always responded with a “no worries” or a “no prob, babe” and a winky face.

When his girl got angry, she buried it. She swallowed the anger like air. If the anger somehow emerged, an apology was quick to follow. It was always okay with him in the end, because crazy bouts of feminine emotion were endearing to him, as long as they were temporary. You thought he loved you all along, but he loved who he wanted you to be.

You will want to say you miss him. It’s very difficult not to say that you miss him, even when you’re fully aware that he does not miss you back, because if he did, he would have said so. But when you’re standing in the middle of a smoky bar with your friends, who are entirely more inebriated than you, and you look around, and you see people smiling, and laughing, and kissing, the last thing you want to feel is untethered. Alone in a room full of people. A cliché. And if for a moment, you could feel like there was someone on the other end of your phone waiting for you, all of the red flags from the past would turn to dust.

Saying nothing is hard. Your fingers will begin to move of their own accord… a real “Idle Hands” moment. In this moment, I beg you to remember that you are not an idea. You are not fictional. You are real. You do not miss him. And you are not sorry.

I have learned to stop apologizing for things that aren’t my fault. And so should you.

featured image – Amy Clarke