The other day, I was admitted to the hospital. I’m fine now, but just like with any hospital stay, my perspective has shifted. Maybe chest pains make you reassess your diet. Or COVID clearly had us rethinking community. This hospital stay made me remember love and evolve.
Years ago, I had a similar hospital stay, but, being pre-COVID, it went totally different. It was four days and three nights of being constantly surrounded by my father, my boyfriend at the time, doctors and nurses. It was a very expensive cocoon of love that enriched my relationship(s). How else would I have figured out what a hospital friend is?
This go round, my time inside was stark and stale. Nurses whose faces I couldn’t see but tried their damndest to be present and comforting. No friends to comfort me and make petty remarks about how my hair hadn’t been combed. No backless smock and no boyfriend to admire me in the backless smock. It was isolated and cold, literally cold. Being alone, though, grew up my views on love and relationship in some expected ways.
This time last year, I was on my way to engagement. I thought I had found the man that would make a decent man out of me. We shared the same name—Jarrett—and I had made close friends with the jewelry salesperson at Jared’s. How cute would it have been for Jarrett to get to proposed to by Jarrett and say, “he went to Jared’s”? But that love affair ended. Then I realized the actual hard part of letting go of love.
What followed the dissolution of our relationship was separation. My self-image had been so enveloped by who I was with him that I had to parse through my belongings, my life, and my spirit to find myself. I left what I could, purchased anew what I thought I needed, and dusted off what I was left with to become a more evolved version of myself.
I actually thought that was the hard part, though. Finding a new place to live with a week’s notice. Leaving the dog behind that I had grown to love and adore. Figuring out who I am, despite my friends who tried to remind me of my dopeness. I thought those were the hard parts, but one year later and I think I’m at the hardest, toughest, highest hill to climb post-bae.
The hardest part of a break up isn’t the separation. It isn’t the overwhelming feelings of loneliness or aimlessness. For me, it didn’t even come when I moved out or settled into my new place. It’s the idea that something I thought I’d never have to do–my dating life I thought was finally over–I actually needed to start from scratch. It’s like walking across the stage at graduation, only for the dean to say you’re one credit short and you’ve got to redo your freshman sophomore and junior classes again, in another department, with different teachers for a different degree.
Dating is a rollercoaster of emotions. It’s the swell of hopeful anxiety that can be overtaken by disappointment. Or it could be the nervous tension of the unknown that blossoms into connection. It’s a mixed bag of feeling–the mixed bag that I thought I shelved for good. But now, after the hoe phase, a bevy of rebounds, and a chapter of Imma-just-do-me, this hospital stay brought me face-to-face with why my relationship mattered so much.
I really did think my ex was it. I had hung up my bachelor card and thought I was his. That was my station in life and my chosen journey—belonging. That’s exactly why I dated in the first place: because I wanted to belong…deeply. I wanted someone to stare at my backside in the assless smock when I go to the hospital, God forbid. I wanted someone to lay in that hospital bed and watch nonsense on YouTube. I wanted someone to activate for me as I did for him. I signed up to have that person. Then it ended. He ended.
Now I’m single again. I think I’m at the age where I can confidently say I want someone to belong. I can hear the comments section already saying I belong to myself. And my head agrees with you. But my honest self, my spirit, is telling me that there is a deeper belonging. A deeper well that runs through love and relationship that is beyond what I can be for myself. I want that. And I believe that wants me.