His smile. Those perfectly lined white teeth. The joy radiating from the way he squinted his eyes to make room for his cheeks. The slight twitch of the nose. The aura.
Everything about it was toxic to her.
Staring at this picture with his smile brought back so many painful memories and some anger still deep within her she didn’t know she still had. She looks within herself, as if surprised that it’s still there and looks at the picture like, How dare he be happy. He has the liver to be joyful? After everything he did to me? Considering the way he left me?
Instagram is a torture device for someone in the middle of misery. She scrolls through her feed, seeing people having the time of their lives and feels even more miserable, forgetting that no one really posts their ugly selfies and deepest failures.
She couldn’t bring herself to unfollow him months back, so she muted everything about him. His posts. His stories. His friends' accounts. Anything that could pop up with a picture of him and give her a foul mood.
After the incident, she was in a complete disarray for weeks. She could barely eat. Her sleep was in haphazard patterns. She was perpetually in the middle of mixed feelings that comprised of anger, pain, hurt, and a deep feeling of stupidity.
I thought I was smarter than this.
How could I have let him in my life in the first place?
It’s ultimately my fault, really.
After the pain of the first few weeks, going through the motions with her life because life waits for no one, heartbroken or not, she got tired of wallowing in self pity. And while the mere thought of him left a bad taste in her mouth, she decided to move on with every bit of energy she had within her.
She deleted all of his pictures on her phone. She muted all the group chats they were both on. She wiped their chats, which was difficult because the chats contained evidence of how conniving that scum was. But it was either that or the constant temptation to go back and read new meanings into all their conversations from day one.
They definitely had to go.
After all polluting information and clues were removed from her life, she had to do the one thing she really did not want to do.
She had to forgive him.
He got the better end of the bargain. There was nowhere she saw him that he wasn’t happy.
He was free. She wasn’t.
In one last bit of outrage, she made up her mind to free herself from any grip on her. He wasn’t going to control her.
But it wasn’t that easy.
She found that forgiveness was a repetitive choice. Once in a while she had to repeatedly mutter to herself as that smiling image of him popped up in her head, I forgive you. I forgive you. I forgive you. I forgive you damnit!
Fortunately for her (or maybe unfortunately) she was great at hiding her feelings so no one around her caught sense of what was going on. Till today her friends still call her, have conversations and ask about him before they hang up. Either way, she didn’t really have people all up in her face reminding her or giving her pitying looks.
Eventually, with time the pain subsided. He wasn’t her every thought. He got demoted to her every second thought. As time when on, she realised she could last a few hours without the thought of him popping into her head. Then eventually maybe even a full day. As this time was passing by, the memory of what he did was not painful anymore. It was a lesson, quite alright. But not a pain.
But then, there were some deep memories that still left a mark.
She looked at the picture one of her friends tagged her on Instagram. Unfortunately, muted posts don’t exclude tags. He was there smiling with his friends and there it was.
She recognised it because it was the car of his dreams. They used to talk about it a lot. She used to help him plan his savings so he could finally learn to manage money instead of throwing it away on things he didn’t actually need.
Now he had finally bought it. She didn’t know how to feel.
All those memories swooped back in. It stung. He had definitely made progress and she was still somewhat stagnant in her life. The pain of realising that was surprising.
But that same pain was her wake-up call. She wasn’t going to let herself fall into the pit of misery and self pity all over again. His success proved an obvious point, which was the fact that your ill feelings towards someone anchor you in one position and not them.
She needed to get rid of all anchors. She needed to be free.
She took one good look at that smile again.
And then she deleted Instagram from her phone.