Part II ➸ Heartbreaks and Mending
“the emotion that can break your heart is sometimes the very one that heals it...”
HEARTBREAKS AND MENDING
Broken hearts have a beautiful speciality, you know? They can be healed.
Yes, no joke. Broken hearts are healable, we just are too busy paying attention to our wounds and the pain it has caused to even think about attending to those wounds, provide it medicine it needs like maybe alcohol, or maybe love, friendship, family, chocolates, pizzas, ice creams, coffee, or even burning your ex lovers precious gifts they got you. Trust me, it feels like seeing them burn alive.
A bit sadist, yeah, but necessary if you’re in too much pain. They’re just like the sleeping pills. Shouldn’t be taken, is dangerous but sometimes it just becomes necessary.
Today marks two months since the worst birthday ever. Two months since the worst kind of betrayal. Two months since my heart broke and two months since I started my own ruination.
It’s Christmas week and I don’t feel very Christmas-y at all. Grant will be coming home tomorrow and honestly, that’s the only thing I’m excited for, this Christmas. He and I stayed in touch after he left. Mom and Dad were mad that he wasn’t contacting them but I kept them informed on my brother’s well being. But him being absent on Thanksgiving had made them madder. According to our chats, Grant wasn’t planning to be home on Christmas either.
After a lot of guilt pressure, I had taken it upon myself to call him last week asking if he’d be home for Christmas.
“Do you want me to be there, Leah?” he had asked instead of simply answering.
I had stayed silent for a while after mumbling in a small voice, “I will need you.”
That was all it had taken from me to have him plan his holidays back here with me, Mom and Dad.
Dad and I weren’t on speaking terms yet. I missed being his princess but again, I was too scared to go up to him. It made me feel weak. Mom and I would say a word or two every now and then and that too because she was always the one starting our monologue-y conversations where she would talk about everything she found interesting and talk worthy and I’d just ‘hmm’ here and there. I think they knew that Sean and I had broken up because he hadn’t been coming around here as he usually used to but I was grateful that they never worded their questions.
It officially sucked, you know, losing your family too just because one stupid person. Every time I would step up and find courage to start an actual conversation with my parents, my mind would wander towards the feeling of abandonment I had felt when Sean had betrayed me and I wasn’t just yet ready to feel that again. I found it safer at maintaining emotional distance from just anybody.
Tracy and Maggie have been two most amazing friends. We have been hanging out together - just the three of us and even though I didn’t speak much around them, I was bettering at being a good listener after hearing them talk for hours about just anything.
Grant and I were on a better level. We had been texting daily and there were more words from my side than just ‘yes’ and ‘okay’. We were having actual conversation. We had invented a new way on talking without making it awkward. We’d call each other sometimes and leave the messages via voicemails. He understood my position and never picked up, letting it go straight to the voicemail and I did the same. I was actually liking it.
Kevin was, well, being Kevin. We had kind of developed a weird friendship. I no longer closed my curtains anymore and whenever he’d give me one of his regular smiles, I’d smile back. Sometimes he’d throw paper balls in my room with messages written on them which obviously were science queries or requests about borrowing my Stephen Hawking collections. He’d also driven me to school twice when Tracy couldn’t pick me up and I was too scared to go up to dad and ask him to drive me.
School was as usual - a hell hole. I was growing into an even bigger bitch day by day and mind you, I was living up to my reputation. I was indeed being a bitch to just everyone who’d even dare to look my way or say a word about me in a vicinity where I could hear. I still wasn’t involved sexually but apparently, I had slept with a majority of boys at our school.Superpowers.
Sean and Ronnie were on a very amazing stage of their relationship. He had met her family and she had met his step dad. When I had heard Amelia, Ronnie’s confidante talking to her other friend Denise about it in the washroom, I had yet again broken down thinking of the day when I had met Blaine, Sean’s step-father. I had then skipped school for the rest of the day and wandered around the town in search of something I myself didn’t know.
Recently, there were rumors that the power couple were going on a ski trip where Sean’s father had a cabin. As much as I tried to be indifferent about every rumor of such kind, I was always this close to crumbling down and let everybody see what a miserable fuck I was, let them laugh at me.
And now me. I was the same of what I was exactly two months ago on October 19, my most amazing birthday ever - miserable, pathetic, vulnerable, damaged, coward, pitiable, wretched - and all those synonyms. You get the idea. My nights were still spent crying under the covers and days were spent being the ice queen I had transformed to be.
There were times when I thought if I could ever go back to being who I used to be and I knew the answer very well. Never.
I knew I could never go back to being the old Leah Carmen. She was too much sweet, too much innocent, too much in love. She had a big heart, she was selfless and she’d just do anything to help others like the good girl she was.
The Leah Carmen of now was too bitter, even for herself, too sinful and too full of hatred. She didn’t have a heart anymore - it was brutally crushed. She wasn’t selfless anymore, instead, she had become one hell of a selfish bitch, always putting herself over others, always trying to protect herself and her feelings and even though she felt extremely guilty, she was not going to give two fucks if she hurt others in the process of self protection.
And even if this new Leah did manage to change into someone else, someone better, she would never be the same old one. She’d be fierce, cautious, selfless at times but selfish for a majority part, a goody two shoes but bitchy nonetheless.
I would never be the same again and I didn’t know if I was comfortable with that.
But more importantly, I didn’t know if I was happy with that.
Happy is something I haven’t been in a long long time. And I wanted to be happy. I wanted to actually smile instead of faking it. I wanted to laugh as if I meant it. I wanted to be free from the clutches I had tied around my ankles myself. I was tired of hiding behind the mask of indifference, of being afraid of truth, of being afraid of being defeated and betrayed again, being afraid of being broken again.
It was pathetic really, how I was still holding onto to something and someone who was never mine to begin with. I was still hung up on that one person who didn’t even think twice before crushing me into so many fine pieces that it became almost impossible for me to heal, to join back.
I didn’t really know what to do with myself so I sought the help of the experts. People like Daniel Handler, Emily Griffin and Cheryl Strayed through their books Why We Broke Up, Love The One You’re With and Tiny Beautiful Things helped me find a way to salvation - well, almost. I cried reading all the three books and finally, I took Min Green’s advice to dump all the things that still tied me to Sean.
Well, I was not courageous enough to dump all the gifts he gave to me at his doorstep so I decided that a huge bonfire would more or less be the same. Tracy and Maggie had decided to be my wingwomen to support me in the huge sacrifice I was going to make.
Currently, we three were gathered in my backyard where Kevin was preparing for the huge sacrificial bonfire where I’d burn it all - all my sorrows and heartbreaks. Oh, did I mention that it was Kevin’s idea actually?
Yes, he had lent me all the three books I mentioned in exchange for Stephen Hawking’s Brief Answers To Big Questions and when I had read it all, he had been a good person in listening me rant about how amazing those books were and how jerk I was destroying my life over a boy to whom I meant nothing. Then he had forced me to do this bonfire thing which I was totally against. He had given me an hour long lecture about how materialistic things are that tie us to our destruction and that we should destroy them before they destroy us.
So here we were with my largest box of almost everything I owned that was from Seam cooper. Okay well, I lied. Not everything but small souvenirs that meant the least to me. I had been careful (read pathetic) enough to hide many things that I still held on to.
“Are these all?” Kevin asked eyeing the small tin box in Tracy’s hand.
She nodded. “Yup.”
He then looked at me for confirmation and I ignored him making him sigh. “You won’t listen to me, would you?” He asked taking a seat on the wooden make shift bench he had created.
I held back a frustrated groan and exhaled heavily. “I’m not yet ready to do what you’re asking of me Kevin. You’re asking me to just erase everything I had with him. I can’t. Not just yet.” I said holding back my tears.
“Oh.” Maggie came from behind me and gave me a side hug. “That’s really fine, Lee. We’ll take baby steps, okay?” She asked me and I nodded. She then turned to Kevin and asked a little sternly. “Okay, Kevin?”
He looked at me for a moment and sighed. “Okay. Baby steps it is.”
“So let’s start, shall we?” Tracy asked to no one in particular but I knew the question was directed at me.
“Yeah.” I breathed and held back the tears that would flow just about any minute. Maggie led me by hand a little closer to the fire towards where Kevin and Tracy were. “Let’s just be done with it.”
“Who’ll start first? Or are you going to do it all on your own, Leah?” Maggie asked me.
I shook my head knowing that I couldn’t. “No, I can’t.”
Kevin having understood my hesitation spoke. “Cool. I’ll go first. Then Tracy, Maggie and Leah and repeat, okay?”
After receiving a nod from the three of us, he put his hand in the box to take out a mobile back cover with a customized picture of me and Sean and without much thought, dropped it into the fire pit. Next, Tracy took out a scrunchie with my name customized on it - another gift from him and looked at me for confirmation. I refused to meet her eye and kept looking at the gift. Finally, Kevin took Tracy’s wrist and dropped it in the pit making it burn right before my eyes.
Maggie followed the custom to two movie tickets and dropped it in the fire like Kevin had done. On my turn, it was something I didn’t remember putting in the box - a handwritten note from him.
“You’re the only girl I know who could pull off orange color so gracefully.”
He had written such a simple thing on a simple pink post it note and I had treasured it ever since. I remember it was homecoming dance in sophomore year and he had gone shopping with me and then secretly slipped the note before dropping me home. I had seen the note on the day of the event when I went to get ready and I couldn’t stop the huge grin on my face that whole evening.
“No, not this. I didn’t put this in here. Not this.” I said and hid the note in my palm, hiding my hand behind my back. “I didn’t put this.”
Tracy looked at me with a guilty look. “I’m sorry, I put it in there. I didn’t know.”
I shook my head breathing heavily. “Not this.” I kept repeating.
“Come on, Leah. These small things are just holding you back and you gotta move on.” Kevin said as he came to stand in front of me. I didn’t look up at him, instead, I held my palms together even more tightly behind my back.
“I can’t.” I hiccuped.
I wasn’t expecting his next move. He hugged me lightly, showing that it was really awkward for him to do so. “I know, okay. I know it’s hard. It wouldn’t be called heartbreak if it didn’t hurt as much as it does, okay? But to remove a bullet from your body, youhaveto tear a larger area before the poison eats you up. It will hurt but it’s necessary. And then when the bullet is removed, we will sew up the area. We all will. It would heal only then or it will kill you. It will leave scars, yes it would but it’d heal. And that’s what matters. Healing.You gotta heal.”
His words opened up all my wounds again and not in a bad way. It hurt, it fucking hurt at the recollection of that very ominous day but I knew Kevin was right. I hugged him tight and cried harder.
“Okay now, drop it off and let it burn.” He said breaking the hug and making me chuckle.
“Okay.” I whispered. I stepped forward, out of his arms and very reluctantly let the small piece of paper flow into the fire. Honestly, it took all my courage in that one moment to do so. After that, we ceremoniously completed our ritual, others doing so without any second thoughts and me doing it with encouraging words every time.
The four of us destroyed a phone cover, a scrunchie, movie tickets, a few polaroids, a scarf, train tickets, a small bottle of hotel shampoo, fake cigarettes, sharpies, a doodled phone number diary and shoelaces. I didn’t really think it’d help. I actually thought it was a stupid idea but seeing it all burn somehow brought me peace and warmth to the cold exterior hiding my emotions.
“We’re here for you - Tracy, Maggie, your family, me. We all are. You will always be an important part of our lives, Leah. We actually do care.” Kevin said hugging my shoulders from behind.
“Of course we do.” Maggie and Tracy joined our mini group hug making me chuckle.
“I’m really disappointed that you guys didn’t count me.” Came a voice from behind us. A voice I recognized really well. I broke the hug and turned around to face him.
“Grant!” I squealed as I jumped into his open arms for a hug. “You were supposed to come tomorrow, right?” I asked and my voice muffled because of his chest.
“Christmas surprise.” He whispered kissing my hair. “Come on guys, group hug.” He called out to the other three who grinned and joined us, crushing me into the tightest hug ever and I had never felt any more safer and belonged than right there with the people who cared.
“I told you, Fred, it was just a bonfire. You didn’t need to call 911 for it.” I heard Mom’s voice. The five of us broke the hug to see my parents’ again in one of their arguments with amusing look in our eyes.
“Oh well, how’d I know. We never have bonfire.” Dad retorted.
“It’s Leah and her friends enjoying the winter night. You should have checked first.” Mom argued.
“Okay, okay fine woman! I’m an asshole, alright? Oh look, Grant’s here.” Dad peered over at us.
“Grant, my baby!” Mom came rushing towards us and Grant immediately hid behind me making her frown.
“Nope. Not a baby anymore, Mrs. Carmen.” Grant said in a fake stern voice.
Mom scoffed. “As if.” And then hugged us both with her large arms crushing me between her and Grant. “You both will always be my babies. Fight me on that.”
I was actually not at all surprised by the number of hugs I was getting. I had actually lost the count and honestly that was the only good thing out of all this mess created in past two months.
Grant chuckled at our mother’s enthusiasm. “Sure. Whatever helps you sleep at night mommy dearest.”
Dad laughed from behind. “Your baby is almost at the marriageable age, Laura.”
“Doesn’t matter.” Mom retorted.
Woah I really had missed all this.
“Us too.” Came a chorus of voices making me realize I had said it out aloud. I just shook my head and didn’t say anything, not wanting to ruin the moment.
“So we’re having dinner here or what?” Dad asked cutting the silence. “Actually, don’t answer that. I’m gonna go in and prepare something utterly delicious for all of us and we’re having a pre-Christmas party, alright?” He said and then turned to Tracy, Maggie and Kevin. “And you kids, don’t move. I’ll be back real quick.”
“Won’t miss a chance to eat free food from you, Mr. Carmen.” Maggie exclaimed making all of us chuckle. “The benefits of befriending your daughter.” She added.
That evening was spent in a process of me healing, mending what was broken inside of me. I wasn’t completely okay, no. The big tear to remove the bullet had just started but that was what mattered, didn’t it?
I had actually started the process of healing. I had took a step towards the mending and not destroying. And that was the most important aspect of that evening. I would heal slowly with time. It would hurt a lot during the removal of the poisoned bullet but then I will be fine once it’s gone. Maybe happy too. And that was what I was looking forward to.
That night, sitting around the bonfire with my family and friends, I made another one of my resolutions - to give myself chance at not being broken. To give myself a chance at healing and mending. To not give up until the poison brewing inside me was removed completely.
I wasn’t scared of the scars it’d leave, no. I was looking forward to it actually. To bear the scars of me being defeated and tell the tales of me finally gaining courage to stand up and fight back for the win I deserved.
I was finally bettering.