Falling in love again is kind of like doublethink.
When something he says reminds you of the ex, you run your hands through your hair as if sifting through those memories with your fingers, as if combing away the past. When he smiles and you see the same crooked tooth in the same charming place, you have to write over your own thoughts to make yourself believe it is unique and endearing to only this new guy. When he calls you sweetheart, you fight back the urge to instinctively reply with the pet name of old and must quickly search through your mental files to locate the new term that has not quite yet become a permanent fixture in everyday life.
Most of all, you cannot say love, let alone think it, in any context. You don’t love ice cream; you adore it. You don’t love your sister; she’s your favorite person. You tiptoe around even the thought of it – floating rather than walking on egg shells for the fragility is too extreme to test, hovering on the outside of the rink rather than skating on thin ice because you’ve learned that falling in doesn’t always guarantee a safe rescue.
But censoring and correcting your own thoughts can’t win you the whole battle. muscle memory is too powerful. When you hug him and feel his lips on the top of your head, for a second he becomes somebody else, the enemy. His forehead presses softly against yours, and you know his intent is to kiss you right then and there, but you pull away because you’re afraid of feeling the past upon impact. And when you lie in bed at night, happily reviewing the time you spent with him that day, your stomach is still violently cold from the absence of another guy’s arm resting idyllically across it.
All the doublethink, but no doublefeel.