Resiliency of the Human Heart (In Real Time)
By: Allie Antonevich
My heart became a balloon when I began to let him in, and my grip was tight on the string. With every laugh, touch, song, text, smile shared, the balloon would fill up with a bit more admiration, curiosity, and appreciation for this human. I looked up one day, and found that my grip was significantly looser and the balloon more full, threatening its relationship with gravity.
One day in December, I let go of the string, my heart soaring above the clouds. The cynical realist that I am, I knew it wouldn’t stay up there forever. But I didn’t know that he would be the one to pop it, given our small but weirdly intimate shared time together.
Losing someone (in a romantic sense) is a universal experience that remains painfully personal. There’s a shared, secret history, comprised of little moments that exist between two people: untouched, frozen in time forever and ever. It’s a secret that the two share — the last, unspoken part of the deal, even as they exit your life permanently.
When the pieces of my popped balloon floated back down to Earth, my heart felt heavy and my mind felt clouded. It was hard to digest that just because I missed someone, it didn’t mean they still had a place in my life. The shared moments and feelings now stay in the past; they don’t deserve to be thrown away, but they also don’t deserve to be put on a pedestal. Romanticization of the past is a dangerous elixir that has the power to break the human spirit.
In January, there were days I would wake up and expect to see a drunk text from him. There were days I would listen to a song and immediately skip it, electricity forming at my fingertips. There were days I would write pages in my journal until the pen would run out of ink, quoting song lyrics and articles, my emotions ranging from sadness to anger to confusion to frustration. Yet, upon looking back at previous entries, I didn’t have any feelings of admiration left.
I shared parts of my own happiness and self with another human, which is something I don’t do often. I had to work on rebuilding my own happiness. I learned that self love isn’t selfish, and began to understand what self-care means in an era of marketed bullshit of rosé and ice cream and facemasks. It’s funny to look at the last piece of writing that was featured on this website, where I had so thoughtfully proclaimed I refused to let someone in again out of fear of getting hurt.
Nearly a year later, I did let someone in, and I got hurt. But my heart blooms when I think about how winter provided a change of pace when I returned to school after break. I hid the origami and drawings we made together in my desk instead of disposing of them, knowing that one day they will serve a dull memory instead of pieces of paper that tug at my heart.
It seems as though when one person exits, ten people enter your life. Friends supported me and held my hand. I would wake up to a 5:30 alarm for yoga classes and registered for my next half marathon to keep a driven mindset. I attended concerts of bands who I loved and sang so loudly I lost my voice. I reconnected with films and music and old writings. I journaled every day and unfollowed on social media. I used the fiery fuel of loneliness and rejection to my advantage, throwing myself into internship and music festival applications, and ended up receiving good news for both. I had a chance to come up for air and introspectively re-evaluate. What do I want right now? How do I react to hurt? What do I want for the future?
Healing is not linear, and certainly does not happen in a day. Healing is made up of smaller moments. Healing comes with hard work and it has to come from within. This winter, I learned that vulnerability is a strength. I used this moment to begin to address issues I had kept hidden for a while. I have clarity on what I want for the future, and I feel content knowing I have people to support me. I have a tight grip on the string once again, but I have more balloons ready to be let go of when the time is right.