It is better to have loved, in vain, than not at all.

By Sophie Marsh, April 21, 2020

Read time: 4 Mins

It is better to have loved, in vain, than not at all. Image

It wasn’t spring but I pulled the couches apart and washed every pillow case. I took every jar out of the cupboard, and arranged my growing spice collection alphabetically. It felt backwards somehow because the leaves had begun to fall outside, but I was sick of the sand that kept gathering on my kitchen floor, and the pile of washing that always started as just a few partner-less socks but soon had engulfed my bedroom.

I had been leaning into aches of old muscles for so long, that I hadn’t even noticed how weary I had become since December. Wine and cigarettes were my co-conspirators as summer heaved it’s way around me. My Diptyqhe perfume and the sighs of jasmine wound themselves into spectacular blurs of nights I couldn’t remember. There was a familiarity to this rhythm, sown with intention to destroy, and a pounding headache a few times a week to match. It was a summer of pretending to concern myself more with the quality of the head of the beers I was pouring, and not how small some of those leering faces and hands peering back at me made me feel. I took my pay, smiled lots, and felt myself become a whisper.

It scared me realising that in the formation of some of the most beautiful friendships of my adult life, I had missed facts I usually would remember- dialogue that would usually stick to the part of my brain that recollects information like honey. I’d like to think I am the kind of friend who remembers your cousin’s name because of the story you told me once and regurgitate it back to you, finishing your sentence proudly. It wasn’t that my ears weren’t wide open all this time, it was just a summer of a wondering, “How long will this pain last?” that ate away the noise of everything else.

White florals are intoxicating, and so are memories of a previous summer’s love. It was this summer that I realised that Sometimes running into an old love is exactly the equivalent of seeing a ghost. It was exactly December, and it was exactly the right place at the right time for me to be starting the process of breaking my broken heart.

At my best I’m passionate and at my worst, impatient. I watch the way I try to fix things for people, and it squashes them into corners when I get overzealous. I’m clumsy in the name of love because I’m unpracticed, and I’m not sensitive to abuse. But I know now to pretend to believe a person when they tell you that they don’t love you, until you do. Even when they don’t utter a word. Even if you think they’re lying at first. Believe them because they don’t communicate openly. Believe them when they tell you they don’t love you with their jealous ways and angry words. Believe people do not want your time because they don’t give you theirs. One’s growth should not be at another’s expense, and I do not have to hold doors open for people so they can slam their fists into my chest without even looking me in the eye.

There’s something unrivalled about how humbling gradual heart-break is. this kind when you don’t have real answers about whether another person truly loves you or not. maybe in your waiting for a definite yes, you witness behaviours so far from their potential that it burns into the sepia of your fondest memories. Maybe in your waiting, you settle on the idea that time will mend them; time will grow new love between you. And maybe, eventually, you’ll grow sick of waiting. As I said, I’m impatient.

Now that the world has stopped moving I sigh, relieved. There’s nothing to run from, only myself to run to. Maybe I’m only impatient with myself.

 It was exactly December when I tied my heart to the sleeve of someone else. And it was exactly April when I decided they could have that old heart forever because I didn’t need it anymore. Like those shirts that followed me from share house to share house “just in case” I had visitors or painted, it was time for me to let go. I’m not in the business of holding anger, just as I let stains belong to the shirts that wear them. So I bleached the toilet bowl, I didn’t buy another packet of cigarettes, and I started walking. It takes time for names to erase themselves from your mind when you’ve practiced reciting stories about them for so long. But it’s autumn. My leaves are changing colour, I’m lighter now, I care more. It is better to have loved, in vain, than not at all.

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