You can’t talk about it. Some can, and can weather the pity, the forced sympathy, and the revulsion sitting underneath it all that greets them as a response. I can’t. Pity douses me like a bucket of ice cold water and clings to me like a dark stain on a white t-shirt. I feel like I’ll never be able to wash it out. So I don’t talk about it. But if something is not spoken, does it exist? If there are feelings that are only felt within myself can I say they are real?  

In love, in the beginning, there’s no difference in what becomes tangible and what fades away. I love the idea of a relationship because every single one is a love story. You meet someone and you don’t know that they’re about to change your life. It starts the same way every time. I meet a girl. I look into her eyes and her smile unravels me. Her attention is a high that I can’t get enough of and I lose myself in her. It becomes a relationship between me and myself, the me I could be with this girl. I could be someone with roots planted firmly in the ground, tethered with the knowledge that my existence matters. Someone with worth. I fall in love with the girl, yes, but I fall in love with that me who is so close, who is just in my reach, too. 

And then, it’s over. I grapple up the peak of the mountain for a revelation and, with a look in her eyes that says I’ve nowhere further to go, crash. The crumbs of affections I took for a meal, that I held onto so tightly, turns to sand in my stomach, in my heart. And like that, that future me waves goodbye and slips through my fingers like grains. Like a closed door, like a cliff’s edge, like slamming face first into a brick wall with your arms wide open, it is over. 

How do you heal from a love that was never yours? Is the pain real if the only proof of it is the drying tears on your own pillowcase? When the dream is over and I find myself on my back with bruises only I can see, I wonder if I’m allowed to ache this much. If a love does not bear fruit, does it have any meaning? 

Kemi Omisore is a senior at the University of Maryland, pursing a degree in English Literature and Secondary Education. She loves lemonade, reading YA lit, and her hamster, Uma.

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