Dex broke up with me approximately one month before my twenty-first birthday. It was also two months away from all my final assessments at University. To call his timing bad is an incredible understatement.
Although I can still relive with depressing precision the exact moment when the first love of my life told me he was moving out forever, the following few days are now a tear-stained haze of images – calling in “sick” for lectures, waking up with stinging eyes that were so puffy I could hardly open them, forlornly separating his belongings from mine whilst he was out of the house. But the one memory that has stood out from those painful first days, all these years and several other heartbreaks later, was the morning when my Mum came to visit.
The first thing she said to me was, “When was the last time you ate?”
I suddenly realised I hadn’t eaten anything for seventy-two hours – I recall attempting to swallow some bare slices of bread, but can’t imagine any cereal substance actually made it into my stomach – I simply hadn’t had the appetite. Despite this being highly unusual behaviour on my behalf, I shook my head. I didn’t want anything. I didn’t feel like anything.
Mum, with her twenty-odd years of matured maternal intuition, ignored me. “Come on, I’ll make you breakfast.”
I followed her half-heartedly into the kitchen, where she whipped up a small plate of fried eggs on buttered toast. Sunny side up, without irony.
And, of course, as I took the first few bites of my first proper meal in three days, a tiny fraction of me started to feel better. I didn’t recognise it at the time, but the small sliver of comfort derived from me eating those eggs and toast were my first steps towards healing myself – towards getting over Dex and moving on with my life.
. . .
Mr Blue and I broke up approximately one month before my twenty-sixth birthday. Five years had passed, but suddenly I was back to being that distraught twenty-one year-old who can’t see her future.
Except, this time around, everything else about my life was a hell of a lot different. My higher education was over. I had moved out of home and into the city. I was completely supporting myself by working in a soulless office – buying all my groceries, paying all my bills. I now had a whole new circle of friends. I also had the hindsight of what it is to be lonely, knowing you were once loved.
I am now a grown woman, which means I can’t just pike out of a day at work whenever I’m feeling broken. I have to suck it up and somehow get through those eight hours, pretending I still have my shit together. I have to act like an adult.
Now I have to make my own fried eggs on toast.