Too often, small words become big goodbyes.
With the utterance of the simple phrase, "We're done," a grand love story is reduced to a surface-level adjective or two that will never encompass everything that happened during the course of a relationship.
Experiences are boiled down to a few meaningless words: "It was ____."
Breakups happen, yet clocks turn forward, seasons change and you proceed onward. Regardless of whether you truly find yourself moving on or are simply getting used to being alone, you are moving forward.
On the surface, moving on and getting used to being alone really look exactly the same. Perhaps you stop talking about the breakup to your friends and family as much as you used to. Perhaps you've cut off communication with the person who broke your heart.
You're finally going out to parties, being social with your friends, doing some hobbies you love and reading your favorite books. You seem okay.
It's easy to seem okay, though, when you're not. Participating in these activities while you've moved on is far different from doing so when you're just getting used to being alone.
When you've moved on, pictures don't burn a hole in your chest, thoughts don't consume you and that nagging loneliness doesn't knock at your front door like an annoying neighbor who needs a cup of sugar.
You feel lighter, and you're not ridden with anxiety, anger, sadness and jealousy. The opposite of love is actually apathy, not hate; everything is fine when you've really moved on.
When you've moved on, you feel yourself transform from going through the motions of daily life to actually fully engaging in them. You're not only going out, you're dancing. You're not only being social, you're laughing.
However, when you've simply gotten used to being alone, the meaning you desperately yearn for in small, mundane things just isn't there. You move robotically, processing things in simple sentences: Get up. Do work. Dress nice. Go to bar. Buy drink. Talk. Go home. Sleep.
Nothing gets deeper than that. Not only can you hardly go out or socialize in the first place, but you see no reason to dance, laugh or even try.
Everyone tells you to distract yourself. You're told to read a book, run outside, write in a journal or hang out with a friend who makes you laugh.
But what nobody realizes is that when you're just getting used to being alone, reading means hearing the words in the sound of your loved one's voice, and running outside on those roads is a painful reminder of the nights you’d wander home from his or her apartment at 2 am after a fulfilling night out.
When you've moved on, the words and the roads truly become yours.
The difference between moving on and getting used to being alone is subtle, but it's there. It might look the same to an outsider -- but deep in your heart, you know where you stand.
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