Start Talking

We never actually broke up. He gave me an opal necklace, kissed me and then walked out my front door.

I remember sitting there in the aftermath and wondering exactly what had taken place. He was going off to college and I had a year of high school left. There was never some sort of expectation in my mind that we would remain a couple once the fall was underway. I wasn’t that idealistic.

Still the uncertainty was haunting. Was that it? Is it over? A simple ending by walking out a door. Such a swirl of mystery around all of my feelings. Is it time to grieve or time to hope? Do I push in and fight for this or just let it go? When you are seventeen this is the kind of dilemma that keeps you up at night.

My senior year started. It was all lockers, school IDs and catching up over the summer. The downside of dating a popular senior is that the whole school is aware you are dating. So naturally that was the question on everyone’s minds. Did we stay together over the summer or part ways now that he is adulting in the university world.  No words were available to give an answer. Because I didn’t know the answer. Such a terrible feeling to sense that you should know an answer about your life but you just keep coming up short.

It is an odd sensation when you don’t know if you should move on or stay. Is this the end or simply a pause to create tension? Like a scene from The Notebook. Someone just tell me if Ryan Gosling is coming back or not.

I avoided most of my friends that first of school because it is awkward to admit that you don’t know if you have a boyfriend or not. And I didn’t feel strong enough to be embarrassed at that age. But Lord knows I needed my friends at that moment. Too bad my insecurity kept them at bay.

The coming weeks would confirm that I was indeed no longer his and he was no longer mine. We technically never broke up, but time would tell the story we never would. It was over.

I was so relieved. Like when you find your car in the parking lot after a long search and you were on the verge of reporting it stolen.

Now - as an actual adult - I realize that I should have just picked up the phone and applauded him for his dramatic exit from my life and asked for a bit more clarity. We just broke up, right? But seventeen year old me just sat in the uncertainty all Dawson’s Creek style. Because I wanted to understand the ending before I opened up. What exactly is the story I am telling?

High school is over. Thank God. But the fear of letting people into our narratives as they are mid-composition is still around. Full force.

It is so vulnerable to share before knowing if it is a comedy, drama or tragedy. Is this the part where I quit my job to pursue new things or keep being diligent where I am? Do I walk away from this knock-down-drag-out relationship or keep leaning in for a classic love story ending?

And such is our life far too often. We don’t know what is going on so we simply keep it to ourselves. We float in a mix of grit and grace hoping that we will wash up on a solid shore.

How do you tell your story when you don’t know if it ends? Is this a tear jerker or are you about to be a legendary comeback kid? Does the addiction win in the end? Or maybe the obstacles will be overcome and this story is about to get downright inspirational. There is no way to tell from where we sit. So we wait quietly until we are certain what our script should be.

Talking about my anxiety last year was hard. What if it isn’t over? What if it comes again? Will people write me off? Will they give up on me? Discussing things you have already conquered is much easier than inviting people to watch the victories and failures both as you slug it out in real time.

Maybe sharing our stories isn’t so much that we have something to say, but more about remembering we have the ability to speak. To contribute to this life that is being written all around us.

Sitting quiet until this little drama wraps up and we can control the narrative that is ours to tell isn’t the way we are made to live. We don’t have to wait until it is over to tell our story. You don’t have to wait.

Your story doesn’t have to be over to start telling it. So go ahead. Start talking.

Liz Griffin