You are lying awake in bed, staring at the ceiling. You don’t feel like doing anything. All you want to do is curl up into a ball and cry, but the tears don’t come.
It’s not heartbreak, you think. You have to be in love to have heartbreak. It has to be a boyfriend or girlfriend or wife or partner walking out on you for it to be heartbreak, the type where it feels like your insides have been put through a blender. And you weren’t actually going out with them, were you? Though it had been a couple of months, and you were kind of hoping that they’d look up and actually ask you to make it official, but instead the opposite had happened. That’s what you get for being optimistic, you think. They didn't even reject you or anything, they just said it was not the right time.
So, you wonder if you’re even entitled to feeling upset. Probably not, but you can’t feel guilty for having emotions. This must be something else if it’s not heartbreak. Heart-scraped knees. Heartbruise. You can forgive those Greek philosophers who used to think the heart was the seat of all emotions: it’s not your brain that hurts. It’s your chest. You can feel your pulse fluttering against your spine, and there’s a sense of a heavy weight crushing your lungs.
Time goes on, in that annoying way time does. Even when it feels like the world has ended, time will carry on in its usual no-nonsense linear fashion. You know you should eat but you feel too full.
“TOO FULL OF SADNESS”, you announce to your friends via text, playing up the melodramatic aspect because it’s easier if you make it funny, put on a mask, act like it’s not bothering you. And it shouldn’t, should it? It’s not your fault. It’s nobody’s fault. It’s just a thing that happened.
Eventually you get up. You stare at the shower for a while, and then decide it’s not worth it. You start feeling irritated over little things, the amount of time and effort you put into this. You end up sitting in the kitchen in the dark with a glass of wine, because it’s not the brewing alcoholism your mother warns you against if you have one glass of wine when you’re feeling upset, is it?
You wonder if emotions are liquids. When you stand up, all the hurt seems to pool in the same place in an acute ball of unhappiness. But it doesn’t seem so bad lying down, like everything’s spread out across your whole body.
You go back to bed and fall asleep with the light on because you don’t feel like turning it off.
It’s not a good night. Consciousness keeps creeping back, unbidden, even though you try and shut it down. You turn over and feel so, so tired, but not sleepy. After half past five, sleep doesn’t come again. You stare at the curtains and watch them lightening by degrees. The world outside is waking up. It’s a brand new day and the sun is shining so brightly you know it will hurt your eyes.
You probe your chest out of curiosity, the way you do when you have a new injury you’re trying to work out. This is the beginning, a dark red mark on your skin only you can see. You know it will go through a muted rainbow, blue and purple and green, and then an angry brown, and then yellow. And then one day you’ll feel for your yellow bruise and it’ll be gone. It will happen: it just takes time. And hell, you don't even know yet if it will leave a bruise yet. You just need to give it some time before deciding whether it is something that will actually bruise you.
You get up.