The parts of you that get trapped inside other people recognize their source. When I flip through my photo album and glance at the face of my ex, the part of me that is trapped inside of him rises up to touch me somewhere on the back of my neck. It softens my face and hurries my eyes to the next page, embarrassed by what it caught on this one. When I open my desk drawer at work, inside there is a picture of me and the boy I just broke up with, the boy in whom I've tangled up little strands of myself that now come out to me in a small, compressed ball whenever I look at that picture. When I see Zack or Angie, casual friends of mine who have severed all contact, the small parts of me inside each of them cry out to be reunited, to come back to me and be comforted.

You can't carve them out like the brown spots of an apple. If it was that simple the parts of you would have never gotten lost. They are the broken off arms of a starfish that cannot regenerate, the sawed off tentacles of a jellyfish whose sting has long since been lost on their host. The more people you love, the more of you is lost in them when you go your separate ways, and you can't help but feel less of a person, less whole, and yet more alive than if you had kept all those parts to yourself.

Every time I have ever fallen in love, it has been for good.
I was poignantly reminded of this when my most recent ex-girlfriend called me a week ago, out of the blue. She asked me if I was going to come up and visit her. I said why not this weekend.. so there you have it, I drove up in the middle of Friday night to see her. And it was wonderful and horrid at the same time... because it was so great to see her again, but at the same time, it wasn't. She was the one person I felt I had everything in common with, a connection with, all that.. and we just sorta fell back into the comfortable closeness that sharing a brain with someone has. At the same time, I had to swallow the fact that I could never hold her quite like I once did, I could never kiss her with the passion that I still had for her. She still has a huge part of me, tied to her heart, and the knife she left in my soul twisted deeper when we cried on each other's shoulders for the pain we both suffered.

I don't want that piece of me back. I gave it to her willingly once, and it is hers forever now.

Any time I get truly attached mentally to a person, thinking that they are a kindred spirit, I bind the core of my being to them. I let them absorb me, even though usually, they have no idea that I'm being that open with them. I've tried to do this less over the years, since inevitably, some flaw or personality trait that is directly opposed to who I am and what I believe in, and I get crushed. It feels like betrayal, even though they haven't done anything to me specifically. The person isn't who I thought they were and I feel like I've been friends with a stranger. Was the entire friendship just in my head? Why did I waste my time on someone who didn't care? I can't really hold my disappointment against them, since it wasn't a mutual connection, but I do anyway, since I feel so completely burned.

The real pain comes from wanting to take it all back, but knowing that I can't. Over the years, I've learned to let those pieces of myself go. But I've also learned that they're never truly gone. Those pieces of myself are detached, gone forever, but the memory of them lingers on eternally. I grow new pieces to fill the gaps. They might not fit as snugly most of the time, but it's enough to make me a complete person again.

This is why I can't stay friends with people for long periods of time. I keep withdrawing back into my shell and cutting myself off from the world. I know I'm not the only one, but sometimes, it feels like it. But then I recover and try again. Time heals all wounds. Maybe not completely in all cases, but enough for life to go on.

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