Pink Roses

By Henrietta Krüssenberg

I bought myself a bunch of roses yesterday. On my way home, the roses—peeking out of my grocery bag—made me feel like I belonged to someone. They were pink, which in rose language can mean a lot of different things. Admiration, gratitude, appreciation, and apparently: an expression of sympathy. I bought the flowers for myself, to put in my own apartment, but carrying them through the streets—yes, even buying them—felt too symbolic to make me feel good about it. I kept seeing people’s faces, their eyes on my roses, and I could hear them asking themselves: “Who’s the lucky person?”

It’s been 3 months since we broke up. The first 2.5 were okay. No, pretty good actually. I felt free in a way, knowing I didn’t have to worry anymore about waiting a lifetime for him to answer my texts, or having arguments that only confused me, because talking to him was like talking to a concrete wall. He could make music, but when it came down to talking, everything that came out of his mouth was out of tune.

A week after we decided to go our separate ways, I wrote in my journal that I was doing surprisingly good, but that “maybe for the moment I just allowed myself to forget everything.” And so I did. I kept pushing away everything that I was meant to feel, convincing myself it would all just disappear eventually—that by ignoring everything, the pain would stop trying to penetrate my brain.

I started with two weeks, then four, then six, and by the time I reached ten weeks, I thought that I was fine—that I was over him. When we had just broken up, and I was crying my eyes out, my dad tried to comfort me by saying “I was once heartbroken too. But it took me a week, then I was over it. Chin up, you’ll see!” So I thought ten weeks would be more than enough. Turns out: that’s when that brain of mine shut down and the pain came rushing in.

I followed the textbook, did all the “I’m heartbroken” things. Step 1 (and step wrong) was sending the “I miss you” text. Obviously no response. Step 2 was contacting his ex-girlfriend, which actually was surprisingly great. It gave me a sense of sisterhood, a spark of revenge towards my ex, and it numbed the pain a little. Then one night I stupidly took out my photo album that I had hidden deep down in one of my drawers, thinking it was part of some research for my upcoming photography project. But it only brought back all the memories—of all the good times we had. There were pictures of us cuddling, pictures of our trip to Copenhagen and Ven (a little island south of Sweden). There were pictures of him in my kitchen, of him playing a gig with his band, of him sitting in the sun, smiling at the camera. Each page, each picture, hurt more than the one before. A few weeks before I had told him that I didn’t love him anymore, but looking through the photo album I realized that I still did.

You read and hear about breakups all the time, making you truly understand that you’re never alone in this mess. But still, it’s always going to be your mess. It doesn’t matter how much I talk to my mom or my friends about this—no one will ever really understand. And I guess that’s the beauty of it. It makes me not have to question—at least for a little while—if I am really me; if who I am is not just a construction of everything around me. And the same applies to my ex: he will never understand me, and I will never understand him. And that’s where I have to realize that my love for him is reaching a limit. I can’t try to be his forever.

I can see my roses from across the room. A pop of color against my white, Scandinavian walls. They are beautiful, even if they were bought for me, by me. Today, they make me feel like I belong to myself. They will die eventually, petal by petal.

And maybe so will the pain.