On the Days Where You Break My Heart*

It’s difficult to admit that, sometimes, we put ourselves the path of heartache. We see that train in the distance, the whistling blowing a loud warning, and still we step onto that track. There are an infinite number reasons for this. Yes, perhaps masochism is one of them. But I’m more likely to offer hope as the root cause. Unless you’re dead, you hope for a lot of things. You hope that the weather stays nice, that you get that promotion or job, that your neighbor keeps his dog off your lawn (*shakes fist*), and you hope that someone you like likes you back.

Hope is for the things we—you, me, and anyone else—have no control over. Whenever we do something, we hope that it works out. Which brings us back around to heartache, or heartbreak. Whatever you want to call it.

Have you ever seen someone make the same mistake, over and over again? Or forgive someone something that they’ve done more than once? Maybe you’ve done it. In whatever way you’ve witnessed it, once you have, you know exactly what you’ve seen. Now, I’m not talking about anything abusive, like when someone falls into a cycle and forgives someone who is harming them.

I’m talking about the things you feel. And even when you know it might end badly, you go for it anyway. You block out all the noise, keep your eyes steady, and go after what you want. Knowing, knowing in its purest form, that the end might wreck you. That you might, despite all efforts to the contrary, end up with your own heart in your hand (mangled and worse for the wear). There’s that expression about being stuck holding the bag. Well, sometimes, it’s not a bag at all; it’s your own heart. Remember that. That is something I occasionally forget, whether it’s a willful forgetting or timely ignorance, I don’t know.

This happens all the time, and not just in romantic relationships. Sometimes, you see that train coming around the bend, and you just pretend it’s not there. You pretend not to hear the words and you excuse the actions. You give the benefit of the doubt. You believe. You hope. And you try to remain positive. Why? Why put yourself through it? It’s not necessarily the belief that humanity is good. It isn’t. But it’s also not a matter of good or bad. It’s not even a matter of what is and what isn’t. It all boils down, and settles on, that very thing no one wants to admit: our emotions make a mess of us. Affection, love, desire. In the very instant that you care about someone else, reason starts to pale. When you feel something, you start to lose the ability to be entirely objective. Objectivity is something of a farce, anyway, but that’s another story.

For instance, when I’m attracted to a man, I might be inclined to excuse things I shouldn’t. No, not ‘shouldn’t.’ There’s no expertly carved set of rules, despite what all the self-help books might tell you. To quote from Someone Like You, “These are people, Jane. Not cows.” Essentially, we’re all different. Sure, we have some fundamental similarities. We have tendencies. But it’s really unfair to judge someone by someone else, or to judge someone based on the scars that we might possess. But, again, that’s neither here nor there.

Desire’s a damned drug. You’ve seen what it can do, even when it shouldn’t. Desire allows lines to be crossed, when they are clearly there for all the world to see. It’s turned previously rational people into possessed individuals. And don’t lie. Because I’m sure you’ve been there, too. You can blame it on love, if you like. Often, it’s a combination of both. One might follow the other. But once there is some inkling of a feeling—no matter what category it falls in—the rules change. Let me repeat that: the rules change.

It’s the same reason you might not bend over backwards to help a stranger. Or that old friend from college you no longer care for. There’s a lack of emotional investment. When there are no sufficient emotional ties, you can be reasonable. You can parse out the logic, be a little clinical, and decide easily enough.

But throw in feelings? You’re pretty much headed down the train tracks, before you even know you’re walking. Desire, love, affection—it’s what leads seemingly rational people to sacrifice things that they otherwise wouldn’t. Security, routine, reputation, responsibility, and countless other things are often exchanged in a blind effort to pursue.

Because, in the end, we all want to feel something. We want to see and be seen. We want that electric whirlwind of being and becoming, discovering and experiencing. We want that white hot, fierce love. And you have to risk in order to gain. Anyone who tells you differently is either an idiot or a liar. Maybe both.

Sometimes, we love knowing that it will end. We can anticipate the heartache, even as we struggle against the idea of it. Maybe it’s better not to know something like that, but it can’t always be helped. There are things you just know. And sometimes, it’s utter foolishness, and sometimes, it’s bravery. In particularly wicked instances, it’s both. But even that won’t keep me from closing my eyes against the foreseeable future, and stepping onto the tracks. Can you say the same?

*Should that be ‘when’ or ‘where?’ I can’t remember. Also, I need more coffee.**

**This is a repost from an old blog, circa 2009.

  1. Alicia Marie Phillips
    September 6, 2011 at 9:45 am

    oh my am I guilty of this… Sometimes I think I give the Train Conducter specific instructions to speed up lol….The only thing that keeps me repeating this action is knowing for sure it will end one day…

  2. Lou
    September 6, 2011 at 9:26 pm

    In a way, we always love knowing it will end. One of the things I like about getting older is the urgency of living and loving in the moment, and being able to better appreciate the tracks right up until the train arrives. 😉

  3. Jessica
    September 8, 2011 at 4:23 pm

    I like the bit about being inclined to excuse things you shouldn’t.

    All my girlfriends and I can sit around for hours and talk about the various traits we have determined to be dealbreakers. And we can talk for hours more about all the times we’ve made an exception. There are so many things we’ve said we’d never tolerate, or never do, but when emotions get all mixed up in it, certain things don’t seem quite so important, and we let it slide. And sometimes we should, because we were being kind of unreasonable in the first place. (I once couldn’t bring myself to date a guy because he had such girly hands) And sometimes, we probably should have stuck to our guns, for whatever reason. (Seriously… never dating another smoker. EVER.)

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