If you are reading this, then you are no doubt a fellow breakup warrior. A person who has fought, loved, and lost like the many souls who have given their vulnerable hearts to another person only to have them smashed, crushed, or ___________(insert other past tense verb of devastating character).
As the Neil Sedaka song says, “Breaking up is hard to do”. There is little about ending a particularly meaningful relationship with someone that isn’t. From dividing up friends, to separating your stuff; even deciding who gets which hangout spots or trying to keep distance between one another while the dust settles.
While I grant that the initiator’s job is difficult, I would like to fall in line with my fellow dump-ees for this particular post, but not in the way you would suspect.
No, if I wanted to bloviate about heartache, I could do it on my Xanga. Rather, I want to discuss what happens after that.
The truth is that once the breakup happens, it’s over. One or both parties have decided that the relationship is broken and want to move on. Words are exchanged, feelings are felt, and the die is cast. But inevitably, however long the conversation lasts, one person closes out their tab, the other leaves cash to dash out, and it’s done.
Dump-ees will recognize this period as the time when disbelief and delusion set in.
“I can get them back,” you say.
“There is still a chance,” you agree.
So begins in your mind the creation of a Rube Goldberg-ian contraption of mechanisms and methods to alter the mind of your former partner, to shift opinion, to make time reverse, to get back together. Trust me when I say this,
“It’s over honey.”
The best medicine at this point in time is to realize that whatever you had with this other person is done. Accept it because you have bigger problems.
“WHAT?” You ask.
Yep, there is a truth to breakups that I have only found through experience. You are broken up, separated from your partner, but that still implies 50% of that relationship goes on. That other part is you.
It is a terrible truth, but an inevitable one. Not only do you have to contend with the trouble of losing someone you love, but you also have to let go of the person you were when you were with them.There are no more mid-day chat sessions, no more 10pm pillow juggling acts, no more drunken escapades to parts unknown. Not as a couple, not as an item.
Humans are, by nature’s design, social creatures. We rely on each other for our survival in matters both practical and emotional. In forming those bonds, we alter ourselves to fit more harmoniously to the people we associate with. It is a natural tendency for our species to gravitate towards the people we like and emulate or blatantly copy the things we admire in others.
I absolutely love Goyte’s Official Video of ‘Somebody that I used to know’ when illustrating this point. Like make-up that we cover ourselves with to fit in the frame, we alter what we are to become something new. If you have ever heard the phrase, “You guys look like a couple.” you know exactly what I am referring to.
Adversely, when a break-up happens, that same make-up starts to shed off our skin, and we slough off our past persona to become another person. At the final frame of the video, the girl no longer belongs. She has officially broken up with not only our friend Goyte, but also the image of the two of them as a couple.
For my part, these are the hardest things to let go of. While I may grasp the concept that the relationship is finished in my head, my heart will not relinquish the feeling of being together.
There is a lyric in the song that I LOVE to read.
But that was love and it’s an ache I still remember
“So! Mr.Perceptive.” You might ask, “I am definitely in it right now. I feel like I am going to die without this other person in my life because I can’t let go of what is in the past. What the hell do I do with me to get rid of this damn make-up?!?”
First, there is an awesome, definitive work on this subject by Greg Behrendt and Amiira Ruotola‑Behrendt called,“It’s Called a Break-up Because it’s Broken.”
Get this book.
Second, and I want to lead by example in this case; Start working out who you are without them. Imagine yourself as a blank canvas, an empty screen, a new sheet of freshly milled paper.
At this point in time, there are no wrong answers. AND, since you have extra time (and money!) to experiment with, there is no shame in getting it wrong or taking a long time to work things out as to who you want to be moving forward.
If there is one thing that I have learned, it’s that almost everyone has a story to share about breakups. With the exception of my parents, every other person I have sobbed to has had a reciprocal experience to share. Luckily, I was able to lean into those confessions and plead my own grievances. I vented, got a week off from work, and spent the next 7 days on ME.
I have taken up music again, lost weight, started playing sports again, grown a beard, let go of my glasses, changed my diet, lost hobbies, gained hobbies, picked up too many books, read too many books, and re-discovered how wonderful all the people in my life are.
So far, here is what I have concluded:
- I am stronger than I realized.
- I am sexier than I realized.
- I am smarter than I realized.
- I am worthy of the love, care, and attention that other’s bestow on me.
Admittedly, the idea of finding yourself is a process, and every day is a struggle to move forward while you also fight the urge to slide backwards into the familiar. ESPECIALLY when that person you were was SO right and it just worked in the kind of effortless, jovial, personal way that artists describe in movies and music.
Ultimately, your goal is to let your old self become somebody that you used to know. No doubt, breaking up is hard to do. And it is even more so when you have to do it twice. But believe me when I say this; the choices you make to change yourself FOR YOURSELF will have a lasting effect on not only others’ perceptions of you, but your perception of you.
As Samara O’Shea says in ‘Loves me…Not’, the only person you can ever be sure to wake up next to is you, so you had better make sure you like that person. Breakups give you the opportunity and space to seek and find clarity of self. Take advantage of this and the kindness of others as you determine who that person is.
You won’t regret it.