How to Pretend It Doesn’t Hurt

“When he says he doesn’t love you anymore, roll your shoulders back and look him in the eye even when it feels like your ribs are breaking inward; like spider legs. When he digs up old aches that he swore he forgave you for, smile and ask him why he didn’t leave you sooner. Ignore the way the words feel like sandpaper running all the way up your throat to your mouth. When he blames you for mistakes that wear his face, do not scream. Do not cry. Tell him that there are boys who would be proud to say they’d love you. Tell him that in two years you won’t even remember his name and don’t let him see the way you can taste your own lie. When he leaves, ignore the howling in your blood and do not get up after him. Not even to lock the door. Do not, do not, DO NOT. Smell his shirts when you box them up to give them back. Not one. Swear off dating when you realize you’re chasing ghosts that wear his smile. It’s okay to cry over him. It’s even okay to forgive him. But do not go back to him if he did not know how to love you the first time. He won’t know how to do it the next.”