The way a song near-perfectly encapsulates the exact sentiment or experience you’re going through at a moment in time. The way a song takes your heart and warmly cradles it, comforting you, while simultaneously breaking it apart, obliterating you. For me, that song was August by Taylor Swift.
The parallels were unsettling and uncanny – whatever I was going through with this guy took place in August, we weren’t actually in a relationship, he was ‘never mine’, etc, etc. When it first started, things were good and sweet and right, as these things often are; but gradually it sucks you into a pit of all things murky and desolate. The rot travels through your gut and builds a home, takes root within your very being and you feel unfixable, unlovable.
This relationship – or situationship, if you want to call it that, I still struggle to find a label for it – made me have several epiphanies about circumstances like this. If you create an atmosphere with all the elements of tenderness, intimacy and vulnerability, you’re bound to feel like you’re in love. An atmosphere filled with whispers of sweet nothings, of holding them close until the space between you is absent and holy, him telling you he loves you so sincerely and so softly that you almost believe him, of warmth and comfort and silence that feels cathartic. None of which is love. A microcosm of it maybe, but not the real thing. You give something the perfect resources to survive and the ideal conditions to thrive in, a controlled environment, it blossoms – while in actual real life scenarios, it probably would not. It would struggle and eventually die.
Love is in the hard places, not carelessly, lazily, accidentally constructed spaces where only good feelings exist, and the only reason those feelings exist is because the thing – what we had – wasn’t real, and you can construe and mould things that aren’t real to fit whatever fantasy you have in your head because nothing existed in that space to begin with. You were never mine, you weren’t mine to lose, etc.
The uncertainty of it all, how it makes you second-guess and doubt every action you take and everything you say. How nothing is ever, ever enough; how love is never enough – to sustain a relationship, to make someone stay. When someone isn’t ‘yours’, you’re never sure where you stand with them. You’re always hanging on the precipice, trying to anticipate their next move. Wanting was enough, for me, it was enough, to live for the hope of it all.
The song August, fundamentally, expresses the sentiment of settling for less than you deserve, knowing it and yet still not caring because you’re willing to make yourself small, willing to shrink your needs if it means having the person and living in the facade and delusion of being together because that’s better than nothing at all. I remember asking him, after trying for five whole minutes to squeeze these words out, terrified I’ll sound too vulnerable or too pathetic or too in love with him, the shame soaking through me while trying to ask him this with some semblance of grace and dignity as if that was even possible: why am I not enough for you? I don’t remember what he said afterwards. Probably empty words trying to bring me solace and stumbling over his own words. It’s sad how I’m always rummaging through our history, through what we had, to find proof of something good and real so I can come up and say, see, look. What we had was tender and beautiful and warm and golden, even for a little while. Because if it wasn’t, what was it all for? Whose ghost did I love?
After it all ended and I was finally left disillusioned, instead of regretting it I actually felt somewhat grateful. Because now I know that I’ll never let myself get involved in a situation like that again or fall so deeply for someone who wasn’t emotionally available, because I know how much it can scar you. How it can make you question your own worth. I never want to go through that again, I hope I never will.
By Sreana Habiba