Anatomy of a Pandemic Heartbreak

A heartbroken human is a raw human. You get to confront all of the stuff you usually swat away. You learn the depths of your sorrow, the cost of your loss and the limits of your crazy. And hopefully you treat this raw exposed nerve version of yourself with grace and without judgement.

We’re all living through a pandeminc and we’ve all had our hearts broken.

Either way this should sound familiar. I’m going to tap into a vein of crazy self-to-self chats (read: mildly reasonable internal monologue). When you’re outside of yourself (or beyond the pain looking back), all you want to do is approach this poor hurt animal with warmth and empathy. If you’re going through it, pretend you’re listening to a friend and act accordingly with the standards of kindness and patience you dont usually reserve for yourself. Mgowo is everybody’s portion. Nobody is exempt.


But you agreed to this! I know!

And you said you were OK, or at least you said you were OK. Actually I’ve beeen OK with it and now I’m not. I know but does that mean I have to act OK? I’m not OK now! Maybe I lied? Should I keep lying? But that’s not good communication. He hurt me, I didn’t tell him how much he hurt me does that mean I’m not allowed to decide to tell him now? Just because I initially pretended to be unbothered? No man. Tell him. OK OK. Anyway, it’s cold down here. Where’s that water coming from? Ugh, I think my heart is melting, but not in a good way.
Internal monologues while lying on your kitchen floor, frozen goods still in their packets, thawing for good measure.Me: friend! Check your phone!
Her: what?!
Me: you know I never do this but you need to check my blog. Now. I just posted something (you know I don’t proofread else I won’t post!).
Her: OK. What am I looking for?
Me: uhm, I think I just dumped my boyfriend.
Her: you think?
Me: I’m talking about him and us but it’s in past tense. More than once. I just want to see how it looks from the outside, I might be overreacting.
Her voice note 10min later confirmed my suspicions.

*Frank Ocean blaring*
Soooo, I feel like my chest is in a blender. Not just my heart, the entire chest. Psychologically, anatomically, I don’t care. It hurts. Uhm, ausi, Didn’t you break up with him? Yes. Yes I did.
So why do you feel this way? Do you have a right to mourn the house that you burned down? But, but, it was a bad house, I couldn’t live there anymore. And if we’re running with this house analogy – *nearly drops wine glass*-
It had a bad foundation! Yeah a bad foundation yes girl come through with the metaphors! Anyway, I’m homeless now. And he made me so happy so happy! Can’t I be sad about it ending? You can be happy and warm in a lopsided house with a good human that you love. But you ended things. You are the reason your dramatic ass is now “homeless”. Nothing broke, nobody locked you out. You just “felt off” and examined the foundations too closely and now You’re sitting here wining, wyling and whining alone in a new city but you also broke that man’s heart and nobody is ever going to love you again you heartbreaking bi-
-So?! I’m still heartbroken! Yeah Just drink girl. Drink. Twerk. Do what has to be done.
The day before the second “Fellow South Africans” address where alcohol was banned “With Immediate Effect”. Pandemic stage: Tick Tock and Banana Bread.But you love him! Sis it’s not enough. You’ve never loved anyone like that. OK but to be fair I always say that. What if I never love again? To be fair I always say tha-
“Excuse me, can I get past you to the carrots?”
I look up blankly. “yeah sure, sorry”. *moves trolley*
Remember all those times he made you feel like the most understood human in the world? What if noone ever gets it again? Gets you again? OK but to be fair, when he didn’t you felt crazy. No one’s perfect (his smile was) : He did just message you, there’s no rule saying you shouldn’t reply. But you don’t want to be with him anymore right? Right? Speak for yourself you miss him! But missing him isn’t the same thing as wanting him back. OK bu-
“sorry, are you in the queue?”
I am. I look up. I haven’t moved and the lady in front of me is 5 social distancing spaces ahead. My shopping basket is loaded. I don’t remember taking any of this stuff. I push my basket to the edge of the line and leave the store. Empty handed.
-I can’t.

*phone buzzes*
Is that him? Ugh. How pathetic am I?
And if it is? And if he tells you everything you’ve always wanted to hear? Then what? You broke things off on a “feeling”. Compatibility is important sweet heart (dear heart) and y’all don’t have it. OK, but I could still be myself around him and he liked it! Who’s going to let me ramble about shit in immense detail and also do that thing I like, the thing I didn’t even know… I liked?
*sips wine*
Practically anyone can do that thing sis it’s not that special a move. Are you sure? It was fire. And his forehead kisses were elite and they say there are many fish in the sea but who’s they anyway? It’s a cold ocean and I don’t know if everyone of those fish out there is a catch.
But you’re a catch!
You’re right. I am am catch.
*phone buzzes*.

Have you ever woken in the middle of the night because you miss someone? Someone you’re trying to keep your distance from. A person who could kiss you senseless and make your crazy feel safe. Someone you know would answer the phone of you called right now. At 2am? On a Tuesday.It’s been a whole 9 days and you haven’t thought about him once but now you need to do everything you can to not call him. Have you ever found the strength not to do it and cried instead.
Because I have.

Delete him.
But, we’re amicable.
Having him on your phone doesn’t serve you, delete him!
But how will I know when he’s watching my statuses?
Block him.
I know I should But, we’re friends! Right? I don’t hate him? And plus he’s so cute. I don’t want to be petty ( it’ll hurt him, I’ve already hurt him). *deep sigh* his number’s gotta go, I know I know. OK fine . Let me actually check his Instagram-for the last time- he never posts but what’s he been up to?
*click click, scroll scroll*
Something looks funny. It’s not how I remember it loo-
*gasp!* HE DELETED MY PICTURE!(Editor’s note: I have a no faces policy on SM. I’m upfront about it, usually around the DTR chat. I’ll share your hands or the back of your neck etc but not your face. So if a guy I’m with decides to do the same about me, I’m totally cool with that.)

He. Deleted. MY. Picture. Yes, the same picture that he put up, unprovoked, the first time we broke up when we were still trying to “be friends”. As a gesture of goodwill, friendship and, in his words “because together or apart you are an important part of my life”. This lil yellow bone n*gga is still blowing up my phone on some he misses me and we should talk when I’m ready and he DELETED MY PICTURE?!
Wait, is he the Clean Sweep type (people who delete all remnants of a relationship from social media when it ends)
*furious scrolling *
No! There are random women from 2015 on this feed (I’ve actually never been this far down his feed before)! And I’ve been with him for over 2 years, I know these humans aren’t a part of his life anymore but he’s deleting ME?! ME? The girl he’s still bothering? The same one who can’t bring herself to cut him off cold because I didn’t want to be petty or too harsh? That me?
Actually, maybe he is talking to her. Who else is he talking to? Let me check her profile and see. She’s pretty.
Should I check his liked tweets? Who is he even retweeting? Is he even on Twitter anymore (I’m actually wildly non-jealous whilst still inside of a relationship so these were genuine questions I was asking myself for the first time)?
Wait. You can’t do this. Don’t do this. OK. Well my guy, congratulations. You want me gone? Miss me. No literally, miss me boy. I’m seeing red.
Block, unfollow, delete.
*opens Twitter *
Mute, actually Unfollow. Block.
*opens WhatsApp *
Mute stories
Status privacy *scrolls* block.
Miss me. Delete me? Me?! Mxm.
Message received!Of all the stages of mgowo ,that moment caused me the most chest pain by far.
Not lying on my kitchen floor regretting playing it cool or realising, mid-intimacy, that something was wrong. Not even when I accidentally (subconsciously) dumped him on this very blog before admitting to myself that it was over. Not even leaving a fully loaded trolley in the supermarket at the height of my feels. There was a time I learned that he was able to do everything I’d ever asked him to do for someone else, and it broke my heart but I still can’t articulate why that goodwill photo being deleted elicited such a visceral response from me. But it did, it was an act of war. Maybe it was an ego attack, maybe it was the Scorpio in me, the vindictive side of myself that I keep reigned in on an incredibly short leash (I genuinely try not to entertain that part of myself). But shots were fired. And there was a Pandemic That Shall Not Be Named (PTSNBN) brewing in the background. My family’s flights had just been cancelled (they were coming to visit) and I had drank all of my (one bottle) wine which I don’t normally drink unless I’m going through something. And now the sale of alcohol was banned. I’m alone (read: trapped) in KZN with no reprieve, I’m in a gradually evolving toxic work environment compounded by the PTSNBN. Mess. (I’m OK now. Sunshine has returned to my life).

Moral of the Stories:
Be kind to yourself. In your times of crisis treat yourself as you would a friend. You are not alone, everyone is either going or has gone through it and that’s the gamble you take when you fall in love: you risk highs (and lows ) and depths you could never achieve solo and it is a privilege to love and be loved in a way that cracks you open. We are richer for it. Our encounters with other souls leave indelible marks. If you’re ever going through it, you’re one of lucky ones because you’ve allowed yourself to be touched. You’re never alone if you can recognise yourself as a friend when it matters most.

Editor’s note Oct 2021: Because I love ya’ll, this is a link to one of my favourite relationship Podcasts Dear Shandy in an episode titled Breakup bootcamp: rewiring your heart

“Let everything happen to you: beauty fear and terror. Just keep going No feeling is final”
-Rainer Maria Rilke, Go To the Limits of Your Longing

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s