Essays, Journal

Deafening silence

It is so quiet, and I don’t know how to contend with the silence. Lately, I’ve been chasing noise wherever I can find it — whatever form, as long as it is something loud enough outside to drown out the noise inside that only I can hear, when I find myself alone.

It is Valentine’s Day, and I am heartbroken again. I don’t think my newly minted ex-boyfriend quite understands why I am all over the emotional spectrum, and to be honest, neither do I. At least not completely. Sometimes I feel like it is not in the nature of emotions to ever be fully understood, or perhaps not as they occur. They are merely experienced, lived through, ridden out until you stagger waterlogged onto the shores of reason and sanity, on your hands and knees coughing the sea out of your lungs, amazed that you are no longer drowning. The emotions I feel are borderline tidal. Meanwhile, his life in Berlin continues. Meaningless sex (which is what began us and ultimately ended us), partying, fun, fun, fun. I can’t imagine he is much changed by all this, or tormented like I am. He possesses that glorious male capability to compartmentalize — to tuck things away into little boxes and forget about them when they are inconvenient. (I suppose I was one of those inconvenient things, in the end.)

Meanwhile, in Manila, I try to put myself back together. I am treading water, weary. I exist in a constant tumult; one thing flowing into the next at the most inopportune and unexpected moments, like a riptide. I am beyond my own control.

I do not know where to begin. I just know that I need to write this out, because writing has always helped me process my thoughts better than days of self-flagellation in bed ever have. (I have spent many days in bed torturing myself over the last few weeks; I need to try something new.)

Normally, I would already have written a hefty and emotional narrative of some fragment of our brief history together — I mean, the last boy who broke my heart got both a story published in a collection (Thermodynamics), and a monologue performed in a play and subsequently published in a script book (Intimacy), and he wasn’t even my boyfriend. He was just a guy literally everyone warned me not to date. (Spoiler alert: I didn’t listen. I’ve paid for that.) I’ve immortalized that lucky bastard.

This, this boy, my first real love since my last relationship ended in 2013, must surely deserve something on a Palanca Award-winning scale, then. (My version of Carrie Fisher’s ‘Take your broken heart, make it into art’ is: ‘Today’s heartbreak is tomorrow’s Palanca Award.’) But I’ve come to realize that I didn’t write about him as much as I probably would have because he so fiercely guarded his privacy. He barely had a social media footprint. He disdained Instagram, which I found novel. He didn’t put himself out there, which is something I wanted to respect. Oh, I would post about him — all of those posts gone now, of course, when I went all scorched earth on my Instagram account — but I kept it cryptic when I did. Unless you were my Facebook friend, you wouldn’t even know his surname. I longed to scream him from the rooftops, but only whispered the barest minimum of him.

I guess I wanted to guard him as zealously as I could, because he was mine. He isn’t any longer. All he is now is fair game.

(That’s what happens when you date a writer.)


It is February 12th, and it is sunset. I stand on the powdery sand of White Beach in Boracay, watching the sun paint everything a fiery orange as it sinks on the horizon. A funny thought pops into my head: Without intending it, I have spent the better part of the last two weeks on what is essentially a ‘reclamation tour.’ In the last 12 days, I have managed to return to all the places I took him when he visited me in the Philippines in November — Palawan, Future, Boracay; the best of home. And as I watch another beautiful day ease into twilight, I remember that we never got to see this famous sunset together. We were always a little too late, it was always too cloudy.

I try to decide if this is something good or bad. In the end, it is both. There is a part of me that wishes we could have shared this. (I love to share the things I love with the people I love.) There is an equal part that is glad I’ve inadvertently kept something just for myself.

It is Sunday. I close my eyes and try to chase away the nagging thought that I should have been in Berlin at this very second. We should have been together. This should have been my Welcome Back party. We would probably have been in line for Berghain with all of our friends. I was supposed to spend the next 12 hours dancing. I was supposed to be happy. We were supposed to go shopping for house things for the new flat, and I was supposed to bring the steamer from home so he wouldn’t have to iron his shirts before work, as well as a massive pile of Berocca and Bioflu for our cabinet. We were supposed to look for a new place to get coffee in the morning. I was so excited to cook for us and do our laundry and build a new life together. To wake at three in the morning when he’d come home from work, then fall back asleep holding each other. To kiss him goodbye before going to my classes, then hurry back home to share a meal before he’d have to leave for work in the afternoon. To go on all the adventures we said we would go on.

Instead, I am here. Home. Grateful beyond belief that by some uncanny stroke of luck, my friend Dane called on Thursday afternoon to ask if I wanted to come to Boracay, and then followed through and flew me out on Saturday morning. Of course I am grateful; I couldn’t have asked for a better distraction. But I am still essentially home. Still not where I spent the last five months of my life expecting I would be.

I think that is why I am angriest. Not because he spent the last month of our relationship growing more and more distant and indifferent by the day — which he claims he never realized he was doing. (I don’t know how that’s possible. How do you forget to tell the person you love that you love them? How do you not realize that you have stopped saying the words?) Not because he slept with some other girl three weeks before I was due to arrive. I am angry about both those things, to be sure; angrier and more hurt and more betrayed than I have been by anything else before.

But what I’m angriest about is that I rearranged my life, reorganized my plans, to make them fit around the beautiful picture he painted of us that I wanted to see made real. What I’m angriest about is that I put my life on hold in favor of our life. That I tried so hard and exercised so many avenues to make it work on my end so that I could be there for him as soon as possible, and even soldiered on when those options suddenly fell through, only to have all that effort thrown back in my face so selfishly and carelessly. (For what? A quick fuck?) That I spent five months in limbo, stalled and waiting to start again in the city we both wanted to call home, mentally detaching myself from Manila and everything that anchored me here, only to find at the very end that the safe harbor I was expecting — looking forward to, dreaming of, hoping for — no longer existed.

His life is largely unchanged, except that I am no longer in it. Mine is in shambles, in limbo once again, and I don’t know where or how to begin to rebuild. I don’t know how I allowed such an imbalance of power, but I was in love, and I was stupid, and I was so hopeful.

I am angry because I am so tired of being adrift, so tired of being lost at sea, and so tired of hoping and waiting and hoping and waiting and hoping and waiting, only to be disappointed again in the end.

I didn’t sign up for the fucking Odyssey.

I feel as though I age a decade with each new disappointment.

Hope is exhausting. Hope is excruciating. Hope is the cruelest thing you can give another person.


Perhaps the most frustrating thing is that there is a war in my mind. (I am aware that I just quoted a Lana Del Rey song.)

And this is what he doesn’t understand about what I am going through right now — what I have been going through since he blindsided me with what he did, since I told him I was going to cancel my trip, since we decided it would be better to just break up. He seems bewildered by the unpredictability of my emotions. “So what, you hate me now?” Is Mars so distant from Venus that men are incapable of comprehending the nature of anguish?

I am rational one second. I can see this whole sordid situation from a logical perspective. I can acknowledge that there were factors beyond our control that contributed to this outcome. (Although the biggest factor remains his being selfish, but we’re all human.) I can say all the things that I know a reasonable person would say, and they make sense to me. I can make all the decisions a calm, collected, and clear version of myself would make, because in those rational seconds, I am all those things. I’m kind, forgiving, magnanimous, empathetic, and understanding. I’m the kind of girl who can tell the guy who just broke her heart that she will always love him, and that if things should end now, she wants them to end with kindness, empathy, and affection. Because I do.

But then in the next moment, I am utterly irrational again. I’m an emotional, crying mess with an ache inside my chest that nothing seems to dull. I’m the betrayed, jilted, heartbroken girl whose insecurities have suddenly, violently re-emerged. Even though the rational part of me knows that none of this was my fault — the propensity for cheating is the moral and personality flaw of the cheater, always — that dark voice in me tells me that it is my fault anyway. I wasn’t pretty enough, I wasn’t thin enough, I wasn’t engaging enough, I wasn’t smart enough, I wasn’t funny enough, I wasn’t attentive enough, I wasn’t so many things enough, because I have never been enough. If they keep leaving you, then you must be the common denominator. I’m the girl who feels foolish for having made herself so vulnerable, for having given a man the power to destroy her yet again, for not having already learned this lesson the last time around.

I am both of these things at once, and not in control of which chooses to emerge at any given time. I’ll snap in a fit of vitriol and cruelty, and then regret it just minutes later when I’ve returned to my senses.

I know it’s all chemistry. All of these things are. Love, my sadness, my anger, this pain — these are all chemical reactions. I understand how the brain functions. I know the science behind my emotions, but I remain a slave to them nonetheless. On a cerebral level, I understand that it will only be a matter of time. I’ve been in a situation similar to this before and survived, learned, grew, became better. And I am so impatient for that moment to come again. Time moves so slowly when you are this hurt. It is so frustrating to know but to be unable to do. As though I were my own oracle, witness to an inevitable future and powerless to make it occur in the present.

After all that waiting, I have to wait again.

I am so tired of waiting.

But at least this time, hope is no longer a factor.


It is Valentine’s Day, and I am heartbroken again.

It is Valentine’s Day, and I am heartbroken again.

It is Valentine’s Day, and I am heartbroken again.


I am at XX XX on the night of my breakup. It is 4:30 in the morning and Samantha’s six-hour set is about to end. I have a sinking feeling I know what her final track is going to be, and again my intuition proves accurate. She plays the remix of Caribou’s “Can’t Do Without You” that he and I separately thought of and dedicated to each other on the day I left Berlin, the day he told me he loved me and I told him I loved him, too. (“It’s the hive mind,” we told each other in astonishment.)

I run out of the club because I can’t bear to start crying. Not in public. I’ve sacrificed enough of my pride.


Clara tells me to hide my feelings, to not let him know that I’m hurting, to not give him that power. It’s something he doesn’t deserve, that knowledge, and I have given him enough power over me already.

I can’t do it. I need him to know what he’s done to me. A part of me knows that I’ll feel stupid for having been so vulnerable and so volatile six months down the line, when I don’t feel as intensely anymore, if I even feel anything at all. (I am hoping that I won’t.) A part of me knows that I’ll be embarrassed by my hysterics and histrionics. But the rest of me doesn’t care.

The rest of me wants him to know, so that he never does this to anyone else again.

All of me is tired of being practice, and having the girls after me reap the benefits of my losses.

I just want to be the last one.


It is Valentine’s Day, and I am heartbroken again.

It is so quiet.

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14 thoughts on “Deafening silence

  1. Precious says:

    This is me. I know it’s wrong but it makes me feel better that I’m not the only one. It also makes me sad. I wonder when girls like us get to be the last one. Big hug!

    Like

  2. MM says:

    Stay strong, Vivat! (follower since tumblr and your last breakup – sorry had to brought it up) I always tell everyone -who dont believe in forever- that the right person will come to you at the right time, place and moment. He/She will find you. Don’t rush.

    Time heals all. It may be different from your previous relationship, but God knows that everything happens for a reason. Maybe it is better that you stay here in Manila than get hurt in Berlin while you are million miles away from your family and friends. Don’t hurt yourself too much.

    Stay Strong! :)

    Like

  3. Keep on loving yourself and making your own needs your priority. It will get better I promise. It is not the end. You have amazing things ahead of you.

    Take one day at a time and find activities that you enjoy that can distract you from your feelings.

    Like

  4. Karen says:

    You write beautifully. Please carry on with the plans you had before meeting him. Rebuild by defining your own dreams/goals and letting them be your anchor. If and when the right one comes, compromises can always be made to fit him into the picture. But that picture has to be started by you, do not depend or wait for someone else before you start painting that picture of the life you want. It might be a good thing to actually live on your own for like a year or so, instead of going from living with your parents to living with someone else. I know the pain is unreal now, but use this time to craft a life that’s truly your own, the type you would still love to live whether or not you have a boyfriend. When the right guy comes, he will be a wonderful complement, not a pre-requisite of the life you chose. The bonus part is, being independent, happy, and self-sufficient are also more attractive traits in general. Humans in general are drawn to people who are already happy with their lives (yeah ok, there’s a niche of people who are attracted to those who need to be saved, but oh well). To quote Jude Law in Closer, “I love her because she doesn’t need me.”

    Good luck on your way out of the limbo tunnel.

    Like

  5. P says:

    Hi Miss Reg. I was the person who e-mailed you about a link to a certain blog post. Now, I have read this, I want you to know that I am so sorry for asking to reread it. It was insensitive of me. I swear I honestly did not know when I should have read between the lines.
    This post is so heartbreaking. Just know that as your reader, as a fan of your writings, I believe in you. I am rooting for you. You are still beautiful to me. *hug*

    Like

  6. This might as well be your magnum opus. This is so devastatingly beautiful, my heart was severely destroyed after reading it. I can feel your pain. I just want to let you know that I’ve been a reader of yours since your Ashtray Girl days, and you write so beautifully. You capture the emotions so effortlessly.

    I also just went through something very similar and I just want you to know that your support group- your family and friends, will be the ones to lift you up. Only you can give yourself back your power. You’ve always had it in you. Don’t give up.

    Like

  7. Marie says:

    It was too good to be true.
    He has Narcisstic Personality Disorder and you — being the empath that you are — were taken for granted. Trampled on, lied to. You deserve better, Regina.

    I have gone through the worst. We were married. Have kids. The whole shebang. But I saw the light. I realized I was played with — the whole love-bombing, making plans and being the best man for me (omg we are perfect for each other) was just a charade.

    I dont regret the experience though. It made me this strong, confident and independent woman that I am now. I realized how empowering it is to be single, to focus on myself (and kids) without having an immature, selfish, indifferent, insensitive, insecure little boy in my life. We long too much for THE one man to make us happy, not realizing our happiness should come from being content and okay on our own.

    Please don’t think that there is something wrong with YOU when someone cheats on you. It is never EVER an excuse. Even if you’re a crack whore or a drug dealer, they aren’t reasons to cheat. It still won’t be your fault.

    Do read up on NPD – I think there’s a tendency you fall for these types, the psychopaths. I learned it the hard way. Chin up, Reg.

    Like

  8. Ariana says:

    I think that’s the point about love. We always always get hurt at the end. Let me quote Alfred Lord Tennyson, ”Better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all.”

    Like

  9. I’ve never read my emotions as vivid as you’ve written it. I wasn’t even aware that it could actually be verbalized! Know that you’re not alone on this kind of odyssey. I was the one who “let go” from my previous relationship (been more than a year already), and I’m still hurting. I love you, Regina.

    xx

    Like

  10. It’s too bad I stumbled upon your blog on the night I decided to delete mine. You’re a brilliant writer. However, after reading your About page, I’m not completely surprised that you’re so good at reconstructing the English language into beautiful forms.

    On the piece itself, all I have to say is that I can relate to various elements of it more than you’ll ever know. I’m not talking about in a general sense–we’ve all experienced heartbreak–but actual similarities to particular thoughts, circumstances, memories, and dynamics you had with that person.

    I know you don’t use your Tumblr anymore, but I’ll just read through your whole archive during my commute.

    Take care.

    Like

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