Push and Pull
“Love isn’t all you need babe - take that from me. If you wanna eschew everything else…”
And boy is it not. They are embedded within me: Paranoid tendencies in all the wrong places, the ticklish wonder in the start of each relationship. How will it end this time? In what ways will we be wrong for each other? F. Scott Fitzgerald once said, “There are all kinds of love in this world but never the same love twice.” I would like to add, and never the same heartbreak twice.
My first heartbreak: I laid myself down in a fetal position under the warmth of running water. Second time was when I hopped on my best friend’s car to another town. Six hours later, a text message: Find me in a place where you cannot see stars from beneath turned into a rejected proposal. After the next one, I played Coeur de Pirate’s Corbeau on repeat for days, staring into an imaginary chasm that I deemed to be my future. Moving on, a BBM message: I wish you were born sooner and I later. You were born in the wrong year. Fifth and sixth I buried myself into the slim number of Lydia Davis’ Break It Down. Up till now I can still recite a few lines by heart.
The Great Tragedy was the one I hope to be the last. After three months of feverish drunken dreams came the inevitable. Of course a failed attempt at closure through a one-hour wait outside the culprit’s abode had to feature a brown envelope consisting of a sentimental mixtape, a handwritten letter with bits of Shinji Moon’s Anatomy of Being, and a Lucha Libre mask - a testament to my bargaining skills with a fierce lady in Teotihuacan.
It took me three flings, a quick trip back to the homeland, a brief sweet affair with soft drugs, a lot of scribbles on my poor iPhone (my hands were fumbling in the dark trying to hold onto whatever I had left, without any success...), a dubious tarot reading session that included desperate questions such as “Can I wait for him for another three years? When he’s back from his studies?” (The answer is obvious - even tarot card readers are less naive than me.) And then maybe, just maybe, countless toilet breaks that prolonged themselves into Tinder breaks might help me get over it.
Fast forward ten months, I did get over it - through and through. With the help of a coincidental date that spiraled quickly to reveal a lush garden dripping with beauty underneath, everyday is a different day. That day is a new day. And so is the other day. And another day. And another day. And before I knew it, I am in for another heartbreak session. It is probably weird to call a breaking-up process “nice”. But it was.
Two weeks in, though, I know it may still take quite a lot of me to tread through this water once again. You know very well nobody leaves unscathed. Probably this time it will take me a deathly reunion with cigarettes. A phone call eighteen months overdue with The Great Tragedy guy which is mildly peppered with Whys, knowing it is the most toxic of the 5 Ws in this kind of situation. Waking up early after a late night out, stranded alone in one of those tourist-infested sois in Pratunam, bumping into a curious bunch of acquaintances shopping for souvenirs (“Huh? Why are you alone?” Why the hell not?). It takes me a friend babbling you’re hot pause you’re beautiful pause you’re smart pause so what’s exactly the problem here?
And when I think I have got my shit together, I cry at a Thai Club. Because there is no shortcut.
When the night falls I resort to the incessant information-seeking activities in the world wide web. Running through a fair share of articles on my private browser with titles like “Stages of Breakup”, “How I Got Over Someone I Thought I Would Never Get Over,” and “Guys vs Girls after Breakup,” I cringe as I once again drive myself further into the abyss of cliches and serve my confirmation bias very well. Two birds with one stone and no consolation.
So when I stumbled upon an article on The Guardian detailing how heartbreak is similar to having drug withdrawals, my internal alarm starts to blip. This is the parallel that I need.
“When we fall in love, the part of the brain affected is called the ventral tegmental area. The VTA is part of the brain’s reward system (I think of it as a vending machine, popping out rewards when you give it what it wants), the part of the brain that makes dopamine, nature’s stimulant. But it’s not a thinking, sophisticated part of the brain. Oh no. It’s part of the reptilian core, way below where rational thinking takes place. It’s a place associated with wanting, focus, craving. It’s also the part of your brain that would go “Bing! Bing! Bing!” if you snorted a line of cocaine.
(...) while the person was no longer in the relationship, no one had told their brain. There was still activity in the VTA, the part of the brain that is active when you are in love.”
Listen. Love is nothing but a neurochemical con job! (Thank you Wonder Showzen.)
It seems not right to equate romantic experiences to drug experiences but it works as a coping mechanism that does not deny the value of truth. Sometimes you have to depersonalize: Ok, you’re like cigarette, a burning slow death. Or LSD, a playground of deep fantasies realized vividly, bursting with divine energy. You are my cocaine, a glowing rush with a hint of bitterness at the beginning. MDEA: Mellow, soft, sensual, quietly euphoric. And with every drug experience that refuses to be internalized into your life I know there will always come the time for its magic to wear off - for you to come down to earth.
I am a person that feels to a shamelessly heightened degree. It is my genius. But here is my saving grace, if there is one: A penchant for thinking. I think, I decide that it is time to let my “reptilian core” take a backseat. Ca suffit! I want to redirect the spotlight to the other part of my brain, which is “our main tool of survival” according to Carl Sagan. And so, the one strategy that I always know and employ has resurfaced into the picture.
The only way to deal with your withdrawal is to stop cold turkey.
Some heartbreaks hit me with an urgent sense of immediacy, some take their sweet time. Some say nighttime is the hardest, to me the mental torture is strongest right when I wake up. But with all heartbreaks, there are good days, and there are bad days. Sometimes it even fluctuates within hours. Sometimes you think it’s gone only for it to come back at you full force. Fly and crash. Rise and burn. Push and pull.
One day at a time. Because relapses are sweet - but it’s never a good idea to overstay your welcome. And with this I will always be at odds with Lydia Davis. You know the pain is part of the whole thing. And it isn’t that you can say afterwards the pleasure was greater than the pain and that’s why you would do it again. That has nothing to do with it. But doesn’t that exactly have everything to do with it? The pleasure was greater than the pain.
I always give love another chance, no matter what. But love is not enough. First you do what you’ve got to do: Survive.
And survive I did, so survive I will.
Amanda Rizkita is a Singapore-based hustler in the finance industry. After ditching every possibility related to her hard-earned Communication degree from University at Buffalo, she decided to get her head out of the clouds and joined the conventional. Only at night, does she take her second skin off and let her mind wander somewhere else. She captures the mundane on instagram & twitter.