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Janis Jaquith
janis@radioessays.com
506 words

WHAT HEARTBREAK FEELS LIKE

Your blood pressure falls. You're shaking so bad you can hardly hold onto the phone. You're too weak to stand, too weak to sit. You slide down onto the floor.

This is what heartbreak feels like. Surely, everyone has experienced heartbreak. But, for those of you who have not felt this way, for those of you who have done this to the rest of us, this is what it feels like.

Lying on the floor, the phone still in your hand, you make a pathetic attempt to mask your grief, to sound normal. But the huskiness in your voice betrays you.

You say, "I understand. Really. I'm okay. No, look, I think this is for the best. You're right. Yes, yes, of course, we'll always be friends."

Oh, right, friends. That's the worst part. What you want to say is: look, my friends don't rip my heart out, stomp on it and set fire to it. My friends don't tell me they don't want to see me anymore.

I used to think that a happy marriage would erase those old wounds, make me mentally healthy and evolved. Hah. All it takes is a movie, or a friend's crisis, or just an empty afternoon to set me to brooding all over again.

A few months ago, I was sitting on the couch, leaning up against my devoted husband and reading the newspaper over his shoulder, when I came across an article about Carroll Spinney, the fellow who plays Big Bird on Sesame Street.

In the article, he tells of the time when his wife left him, and he was so heartbroken that he found himself weeping inside his Big Bird suit. Sobbing, inside his Big Bird suit.

Doesn't that story bring every heartache you've ever had right back to the surface?

Many's the time I've struggled to hide behind a mask of bravery and go on with life, as though my heart were not hemorrhaging. It doesn't work. Instead, I become transparent. Sorrow infuses my every movement, my every word. I am marinating in grief, and I fool no one.

And in this twisted state of mind, I'm hoping that someone comes along and rips his heart out someday. Someday soon.

Is this love? I don't think so. I'm not sure what it is. But the memory of it makes me powerfully grateful for my happy marriage. Today, memories are all that remain of old heartaches. Now, I can give the appearance of a woman who is evolved and unshakable in her contentment.

But all it takes, even while cuddling up and sharing a newspaper, is a story like the one about Carroll Spinney crying inside his Big Bird suit, and it all comes back.

If the truth be known, it never really went away.

I don't know what the future holds, but I'd like to know where I could get my hands on a Big Bird costume, just in case.


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