The tears don't come as easily, as quickly. They don't come rising out of you like aftershocks everyone knows are coming, but can't quite predict. They stop coming at all. This is a sign that you've moved through something and are standing on the other side. It is sad in a new way. It is sad in a way that needs to be carried for a while. It is sad because you are moving on.
You are offered two jobs at the best restaurants in your new city. A city that is full of foodie havens, James Beard finalists, and hip, farm-to-table cuisine in high demand. They are both consistently booked. You say yes to both, and try to give yourself some confidence and power in this choice. Your friends tell you your hustle is incredible. Your ability to get up and become new again in less than a month. Two jobs! So-and-so never hires new people! I staged there and they didn't call me back--I'm so jealous! You'll look back at this later as your transformation story, girl. Own it. You are doing the damn thing. You don't quite believe them yet.
While following one of the servers at one of the restaurants during the very competitive stage (audition) process, that server introduces herself, and you, to the table. Her name is Tiff. The table loves you both and proceeds to call you T and T. You smile. Your stomach feels like a rock. But you keep moving. You need this job.
While following another server at the other restaurant, you meet Tracy, the sweet, fun, blonde, hippie-chick and want to hate her for her name and what that name will always remind you of, but you don't. You want to hold grudges for everything that reminds you of the pain and loss of your partnership, but you don't. This means you've matured and grown. This means you are hearing your own voice and desires again. This means you can sense the learning process is close. This also means you are moving on.
In a yoga class, you wear a tank top that you haven't worn since last summer in the home you carry now only in memory, and debt. As you fold into yourself and breathe deeply after a sweaty class, you find dog hair from the three dogs you no longer own woven between the mesh holes. As you fold deeper, you break focus and start pulling them off, leaving them on the hardwood floor to be swept up after you leave. You feel the well of what, weeks ago, would have been an uncontrollable sob rise from your gut and tickle your skin. As you breathe, it lingers and passes. It is bearable. It is there, but also gone.
You stop dreaming of her and her new girlfriend. You stop asking why and start accepting. After a short communication that feels like bullshit small talk about the dogs, you write one last, long email in an attempt to take back some power. You claim your own strength again, in a way. You know she won't respond. She doesn't. It hurts, but you know now you actually didn't write it for her. It was for you. You grabbed some autonomy in it and it doesn't matter anymore if she receives it. You are unsure now if she ever received you fully, as you are. You give yourself comfort in knowing you did everything you could to receive her until you couldn't anymore, because she wouldn't let you. Didn't want you to. And you can't change that, or her. And you no longer want to.
You can hear your own heart speak again. Your heart tells you what you want in love, in relationships. Your heart tells you how badly you'd been neglected, how badly you neglected yourself. That it's all fine. This was the only way. Your mind is still able to discern what she did wrong in hiding so much from you, but your heart begins to take responsibility for its own choices again. You no longer wonder what your life will look like now or where your life went, because it is not behind you. The dust has settled and the dirt is 6 hours south of where you are, but that's not your life anymore, even though there's a phantom sensation of it hovering over your skin, still, in every step you take. Your life is here. You live here, in this skin and in this city. And you have goals again. They are just yours.
You start to ask yourself what you want from that dead partnership, what lessons you can take with you. You want agency. You want to build things by yourself. You want your art back, your confidence, your sexuality and sensuality. You want to buy a bicycle because you did your own research and you want to ride it into the night, maintain it yourself, buy your own tools, fix your own shit. You want money that is yours and to get rid of the debt of her and all of those unused things and hobbies. You want to write every fucking day and use art as your way through. You want to live here, now, and let your own desire take you to the next place, and then the next. You want to teach and be creative and embrace your weirdness and never ever let someone back into your life that won't let you love them, that won't let you touch them, that blamed you for their own shortcomings and insecurities. You can see yourself in five years with a book published, another in the works, out of debt and teaching at some new school in a place you wanted to live, just outside a new, diverse city, with a little land, two dogs, some chickens. All you wanted and bought yourself. You can see the coop you built--it took a while and lots of trial and error, and it reminded you of all you used to lean on her for, but you did it--and you might have a goat if you have the time to milk it. Because fuck, you miss your goats. You may have a new love, maybe not. It doesn't matter. In this future, you have created the life you wanted because you wanted it, not because you felt incapable of doing anything alone, without her. You thank her every day in some quiet corner of your heart for all you learned with her, and all you learned after her. She didn't give you strength, she didn't ground you all those years, after all. Her release may have taught you how to find your own strength again but it has been inside you all along. A power that was not gone, like you thought, just dormant and dependent. Her absence and coldness at the end of you brought you back to the kindness you can only give yourself. You make art. You love music. You grow food and flowers and take walks with your dog every day and love your body. You sleep naked. It is good.
When the dust is gone, you can see yourself clearly again. You know you are moving on.