When I deal with difficult things, I compartmentalise. I have these little drawers in my head, it is something like an enormous storage vault in there, with endless sets of these drawers, like an old library room, with shelves and ladders, all dark and musty, and I shove things like the pain from my break up in one of them way down the back, close it, and skirt around it for a while.
This compartmentalising prevents me from walking around in a haze of hurtliness (which I guess is how it is in the very beginning, because in the beginning, the hurt doesn’t really quite fit into the drawer, it is too big, it spills over, it bleeds out all over the floor).
After a while, though, I can choose when I go to the drawer and take the hurt out. In the beginning opening the drawer just a sliver is enough, almost more than I can bear. I just slide it open a little and the pain wafts out and hits me like a sledge hammer and I have to quickly slam it shut.
As time passes, I can open the drawer further and further, and then, at some stage I can take the hurt out, and hold it in my hands, like a beating heart, a living thing. I can cherish it and pet it and embrace it, let it surround me, I can wallow in it, I can leave it out and immerse myself in it.
Sometimes, a song, a word, an aroma sneaks by me and pries the drawer open when I am not paying attention, and I might be shocked by the hurt being let out and running loose, I might have a little cry before I can catch it, pick it up and put it back again.
For quite a while, I will go to the drawer every day, no matter what. Like an obsession, I will go down that dark corridor, steel myself, and open the drawer, each time hoping that it is a little smaller, each time it is a little smaller. It is part of healing.
One day, I will pull it out, that hurt, and it will be gentle and sweet and one day after that I will pull it out and I won’t feel anything (the thought of which is, paradoxically, terribly painful right now, letting go of it (of him, of it, of him…) is not easy, but it will come). Then, finally, one day I will open the drawer and it will be empty, and then the memories will live in a completely different drawer, all tender and warm and beautifully rendered.
Today is the third day that I haven’t gone to the drawer at all. Today is the third day that I have felt periods of happiness for no good reason. Today is the third day that I have felt like I am seeing the other side.
My happiness, slowly creeping back.