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The Voices In My Head.

You’ll get him back.

You’ll never get him back.

He’s gone.

You can get him back if you try really hard.

Fuck it, you don’t want him back.

Yes, you do. You really, really do.

Why did you fuck this up? You KNEW how important this was.

I did the best I could, as a terrified mouse who feels like the entire world is one hungry cat, I did the very best I could.


He’s right, you just don’t want to see the truth. You never would have made it.

I’m right, we were meant for each other, we have so much more to gain together. 

He’s your soulmate.

A soulmate wouldn’t leave you.

So that means he’s coming back. Because he’s my soulmate.

Soulmates is not a real thing.

Yes, it is. You know this. Tie him up in a chair with soft, satin ribbons and show him how wrong he is. Make charts, a slideshow, do whatever it takes but don’t let him leave until he believes you.

He’ll meet someone better.

No one is better for him than you.

I’ll meet someone better.

There’s no one better.

You’re missing the point- you have to learn to be alone.

I’m already alone.

I love him, I love him, I love him.

He loves you, he loves you, he loves you.

He’s never coming back.

Returning to Istanbul

I am back in Istanbul and it feels so right to be here, at the epicenter of my greatest joy and my greatest pain. Getting here was not easy. It took two panic attacks at the airport in Amsterdam, an excruciatingly lonely flight, two hours of holding back tears in an endless line at passport control and finally walking out after customs, his face missing from the crowd at arrivals. I knew he wouldn’t be there, why would he be there? Still, I hoped.

I think I’m almost done hoping. Almost. Today I went to therapy. I’ve been so mad at the universe for doing this, but I have finally given in. I asked for one thing only. “If you are insisting that I take this shitty road, at least clear out some of the thorny branches ahead. Make it easier for me to walk. You can start by sending me to a therapist that will actually help me.“ And I think I was heard.

I have figured out so much about myself these last three weeks and I have never worked this hard for anything. I needed to show a stranger who I am, or rather the things that I have done or have been done to me that I thought were who I am. I needed to have the courage to ask someone who isn’t my friend or my family to see me. I want to be seen so badly, but I have been so afraid of being unacceptable. Today my therapist saw a glimpse of the worst and the best of what I carry, and she looked back with compassion, not judgement. And somehow that brief exchange, felt like getting the next number of a code that opens the lock. I hadn’t mentioned any of my pilgrimages and my obsession with walking. I came into her office today and said I need you to help me learn to suffer. She listened and then she offered up this, “Maybe what you need is someone to walk beside you through the suffering so that you’re not alone anymore.”

I am home and I am safe.  This city, as my friend Katie said yesterday “requires a blood sacrifice,” but it gives back so much if you can stand the suffering just a little bit longer than you thought you could. If you surrender to it just a little bit more generously than you want to.

I feared that losing him meant losing everything that I love. And it finally doesn’t feel like that. I saw a friend the other night for the first time since this happened and I was scared of how he would be around me. What if he was uncomfortable and distant? They were friends first, they work together, and because they are Syrian they share a loss that I will never be able to feel, no matter how much I try. How could I not be edged out? But he held my hand and asked me why I had to go to Amsterdam to be with family, when my family is here too. “We need you. We’re Syrian, think of what we’ve lost already- we can’t lose you too.”  I am home and I am safe.

Dental Floss and Other Things I Don’t Understand.

I’m not a regular flosser, although I’ve always wanted to be. Flossing my teeth is something I do on special occasions, like last February when Claire and I flew to Bulgaria for a weekend. It felt appropriate to start (and stop) flossing in a new country. Sometimes I floss when I make the decision to turn over a new leaf and become something. I celebrate this new person I am about to become by taking care of her teeth.

It’s really important that you understand how little I actually flossed. You need to know that it was never something that appeared on a shopping list. “Can I get you something from outside?” he would ask and I might say  milk, coffee chicken for our cat, Daddy. And he would say “Write it down.” And sometimes I would, and sometimes he would forget anyway. What’s important is that in the almost two years that we shared shopping lists and brought things home, like toothpaste, soap and milk, not once did I ever ask for dental floss.

Two days before we broke up, we were lazying together at home when I got the urge to floss my teeth. I brought out the little plastic container into the living room, so I could be close to him.

“Shit,” I said, “I’m out of floss.” The little plastic container was empty and I threw it away without a second thought.

The next day, on what would be our last day together as a couple he came home from a supplies run and handed me a container of floss. My heart filled with love for him because he remembered something so forgettable. And then he left.

And I don’t understand. Two weeks before he left, while I was in Russia he sent me a message  from the same small village on the Black Sea where he would end our relationship. “I am at our restaurant in Kiloys and everything reminds me of you.” And I don’t understand.   Two days later while I was stuck in the immigration line at Ataturk airport I sent him a message- “I need coffee.” and he wrote back “I need you.” And I don’t understand.  When I finally made it back from the airport he couldn’t stop kissing me at the bus stop. It was like I had been away for months rather than two weeks. He was so happy, so relieved to have me in his arms again.  And I don’t understand.

When I offer up this evidence to him, he says he was faking it. And I don’t believe him. He says he was scared to acknowledge what he was feeling, that he wanted out, and I believe him a little.  

“I know you love me,” I cried a week ago, my finger poking him in his chest “I live here, in your heart, you know this. You love me.”

“Love is not enough, “ he said. And I don’t understand.

Things Get Shittier

I think we can all agree I’ve had a very shitty three weeks. Good god, has it been that long already? I guess the universe wanted to express the symbolic shittiness of my life with a stronger, more vivid representation, in case I or anyone else didn’t quite get how bad it all really is.

Two days ago I cried at the window of our apartment because a pigeon who had been sitting on the windowsill flew away at the sight of me. My mad, spiraling darkness scared it away. Later that afternoon, after a day that was almost entirely full of lows, I had a moment of relief over a glass of wine with my mom, in an outdoor cafe shaded by some sort of tree. I was two minutes into an actual conversation, where I said things that connected to other things and then listened to a reply and said thoughtful things back. Granted, the conversation was about an episode of the Bachelor from 2009, but it was so much better than the loop I have been on for three weeks. “How could he do this?” “Does he have any idea what he’s done?” “Why did he do this?” “Am I crazy?” and back again.

Suddenly, in the midst of my retelling of how Jason gave his final rose to Melissa but then couldn’t stop thinking about Molly, a pigeon the size of a duck unloaded what felt like a week’s worth of bowel movements onto me. I mean all of me. My hairline and forehead,  the tips of my hair that were swirled into a bun on my head (???), my sweater, the t-shirt under my sweater, the back of my neck, my hands, which I had been using a lot, as I do when I talk passionately about things, the crotch of my light grey jeans, and inside the handbag that was sitting on a chair next to me. Even my mom felt a drop hit her face across the table from me.  Laughter was the only possible response. “They say it’s good luck,” my mom told me. We always do that- try to dilute shitty things with the hope of a brighter outcome. It reminded me of what he said to me three weeks ago. “This is best for both of us, in two or three months you’ll see that.”  

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