I Can’t Go Back To The Way We Were


“Memories warm you up from the inside. But they also tear you apart.” Haruki Murakami, Kafka on the Shore

Once upon a time, you were magic to me. I dreamt for hours upon hours about you, allowing myself to drift off into complete happiness because I loved you and you loved me. I was utterly convinced that you were my soul mate. Irreplaceable. The person I would love for the rest of my life.

I still remember the good times. The times you surprised me. I remember that time I was annoyed at you, so you ran to your neighbors yard and pulled up a make-shift bouquet of flowers. I remember your hazy eyes and red cheeks and your dumb, drunk grin as you knelt and presented me with the scraggily flowers, dirt still hanging from the roots. I remember the drunken nights. The night when you pulled me out of the car at 3 a.m. at a Taco Bell drive through, demanding I kiss you in the rain. I remember how the cars behind us honked their approval. I remember brushing our teeth together at your house. You brushing mine for me. Us, collapsing in immature laughter, like elementary schoolers instead of 20-somethings. Me, thinking wow, I want this. That’s when I thought that I could see myself with you, always. Grow up together. Grow old together.

But now the good times are what feel like a dream. Now, all I have are the bad nights I spent circling your dark fraternity house, hoping I found you in the crush. Finally stumbling upon you, but seeing your hands on a small waist that wasn’t mine. That night, I looked like a demented party clown with my special-occasion makeup running in long streaks from my eyes to my chin. Curled in a chair, I gulped and yelled and sobbed. I dug my own fingernails into my thighs, leaving long scratches dotted with blood. Where was he? I remembered the sound of my hand on your face. But why wasn’t he here with me? I remembered the long, blonde hair that was more perfectly curled than mine. Now, all I have are the times you left me with my own sadness and confusion, to cry myself to sleep once again.

So I guess now I’m grieving, because it’s like you’ve died to me. I instinctively hold onto the guy you once were, but you aren’t the same person from the good memories any longer. I have finally realized that the “you” I crave and miss is not the “you” that stands in front of me anymore. The memories that pass between our stolen glances are in the past. You walk around like a constant reminder of what an embarrassing mess I was. You act like I’m still dying to get back together with you. You make a joke out of our relationship to help yourself feel better about what you’ve done. You make a joke out of my sadness to make it not real to you. Our breakup sent me into a downward spiral of depression and self-loathing that I am finally starting to recover from.

The way you invalidated my pain and suffering after our breakup is unacceptable. And I have finally started to realize that we can never be the same.

I can’t curl up in your arms anymore without thinking of all the other girls that have been between your sheets. I can’t believe the girl in your pictures is “just a friend” anymore because of all the other “friends” you lied about. Every time I see you I’m reminded of what a mess I was, and sometimes still am. I melt into a pathetic puddle at your feet and you step over without cleaning me up. I really wanted you to clean me up. To fix me. But you left me. And I know now, for the first time, that I can never go back. 

featured image – Lauren Rushing