It was 01:30 am. My body was tired but my mind racing. For the last three hours, I had tossed and turned in bed, unable to sleep. The familiar noise of opening a Xanax pack promises relief in form of a bitter pill.
Breakups are never fun, but this one was… different. When you fly sky-high, the crash hits you like a freight train at full speed, shatters the framed photos on the wall, and sends shrapnel through your heart. And it left me with a million unanswered questions.
I loved her like a man can love a woman — with the head, the heart, and everything I had. One day, she asked me to move in together and have kids. The next, she breaks up with me for bullshit reasons, giving me both “I don’t give a fuck about you” vibes and saying “I love you” while crying into my chest.
At that moment, I lost both my ability to trust and my grip on reality.
It’s a funny feeling when everything flies past you. Words, sentences, movements — they all lose meaning. You forget your name, where you are, and how to breathe. Your ears ring while you try to understand what the other just said.
The next day, the realization came with waking up in an empty bed — and with it, the tears. I’m an atheist, but I prayed to whatever was out there for the pain to stop. It didn’t.
We didn’t speak after because the wound was too fresh. Instead, I carried all the thoughts, open loops, and leftover feelings I never got a chance to communicate with me for a year.
It ate me up from the inside — barely noticeable but constantly gnawing on your mental health.
The smallest things were enough to trigger memories. A phrase, a song, a food they used to love. Bzzzt — 1000 volts straight to my heart.
I became sick and tired of the regular shocks. No matter how much it would hurt and how scared I was, I wanted closure. I wanted to make peace.
This is how I found it — and how you can, too.
An Important Word of Caution
10:30 pm. I closed my journal and took a deep breath. My hand hurt from vomiting words over so many pages.
A breakup is a breakup for a reason. Something didn’t work out. Before you even think about getting any kind of closure, reflect on what you could’ve done better. Even if you think it wasn’t your “fault.”
If you don’t, it’s like putting on fresh clothes without showering — under the pretty surface, it still smells like shit.
Reflecting on your mistakes is hard. Your ego doesn’t like the idea that you’ve messed up. It’s so much easier to call them a crazy bitch or a fucking idiot. I wrote these words down many times only to watch the paper go up in flames.
But there’s always something you can learn, even if it’s just why you’ve picked a partner that treated you like a toilet bowl.
- Why did I love them?
- What could I have done better?
- Why did they act the way they did?
- What does the situation look like from their perspective?
Tough questions, I know. You have to ask them over and over until you understand. What feels like walking through glass shards barefoot paves the path for moving on.
You regain control. You work on yourself. Your life gets better.
You still wish things to be different. But somehow, it’s… okay.
You can sense a light at the end of the tunnel.
The First Contact Is Always the Hardest
9:06 am. I hit send. Then, I threw my phone to the other side of the room and exhaled sharply. There was no way back.
When you open up to someone who hurt you, you feel a wild mix of fears. Rejection. Vulnerability. Getting hurt again.
“Courage is feeling the fear and doing it anyway.”
— Oprah Winfrey
At first, I didn’t know what to write apart from “hey, you fucked me up, can we talk?”
In the end, this is what came of it — translated from German:
Hey [her name],
I’m on holiday with my mum right now and between the pool, Italian food, and childhood trauma, I have time to think.
I’ve processed a lot of what happened since last year. Now I’m at a point where I’d like to understand a few things to let them go.
To be honest, writing this message isn’t easy and I’d like to be more open, even if it’s hard. But I think talking in person is the better way to do that.
I’m in [city] on [date]. If you’re still here, I’d appreciate it if we could both make peace with what happened.
Although a little long, it was simple and straight to the point. A greeting. An inside joke and wishing her well. Explaining why I messaged her out of the blue. Then, putting the ball in her park without pressure.
About an hour later, the answer came.
My words stroke a chord. Her tone was friendly and understanding. We settled on a day and time.
I was one step further on my path to peace.
Photo by charlesdeluvio on Unsplash
5 Eye-Opening Questions I Asked Myself Before We Talked
09:30 pm, right after dinner. I sat down, lit a cigarette, and wondered what the fuck I was going to say.
I didn’t want the talk to derail like our fights, ending with tears and resentment. I didn’t want to leave anything unsaid, either. Then, the message I had been waiting for came.
My best friend sent me five questions he had tried and tested in similar talks:
- What do you want to share/tell them? Any specific messages?
- What do you want to know or hear from them?
- What’s your goal with this talk?
- What are dealbreakers/reasons to leave?
- What are the last words you’d tell them if it was the last time you saw each other?
The last question hit me like a sledgehammer. At the time, I didn’t want to admit it, but I still felt something for this woman. In the maelstrom of anger, resentment, and fear swam a tiny ship built out of affection and hope.
Sinking it would’ve been easy. Go full-on fuck you mode, vomit words in her face, and call her all the names she deserved to be called.
But somehow, that didn’t feel right. Some twisted part of me hung onto what she said after we broke up. “You’re still the man I love. I still want your kids. I still want a future with you. But I can’t be with you right now.”
I had zero reasons to trust her, but I had vowed to face my fears and choose the path of vulnerability.
I sighed. The whole thing would be more emotional and tough than I expected. The crazy thing?
I had no fucking clue if it was worth it.
It just felt right.
Nothing Ever Goes As Expected
5:27 pm. Three minutes left. I had no idea how I’d react to seeing her again. My headphones’ deafening techno beats and a quick breathing exercise calmed me down.
Then, there was a familiar outline in my peripheral vision. I turned around and looked straight into her face.
The next moment, my brain stopped working and autopilot took over. A hug. “It’s good to see you.” “It’s good to see you, too.” We didn’t let go for a while.
Then, we started walking and talking. Life updates. She was blabbing along like a waterfall, showing no sign of stopping.
I didn’t blame her — I was nervous, too.
We sat on a park bench, our belongings spread between us. Looking into her eyes brought back painful and beautiful memories alike. She told me to hit her with my words. I didn’t plan for it — and neither did I want to.
“There’s no point blaming each other. What happened has happened. All I want is to understand and let go.”
I could always tell when she was genuinely surprised.
We talked about how we felt back then and how we feel now. Things started to make sense. She’s in therapy. I will be soon, too.
At one point, our brains gave out. There were still things on my list, but only one question that mattered. We took a quick walk, then sat on the bench again.
“Give it to me,” she says.
I asked about what she said back then — about our future. I said I don’t know if it would work out, but I’m open for the perspective, maybe meet for a coffee. Her surprise turned into overwhelm.
She needed to take her time to think about it. Cool with me — I’d rather have a substantial decision than one made on a whim and fleeting emotions.
Then, we walked back together — laughing about old and new times. When I said goodbye, I pulled out her favorite sweet from my backpack. Her face lit up like a Christmas tree.
A long hug, then she wanted to give me a Raffaello popsicle from her freezer. I waited downstairs because I didn’t want to see her apartment. She looked at me while I bit into the ice cream.
It tasted amazing.
Like coconut, summer, and happiness.
This post was previously published on medium.com.
You may also like these posts on The Good Men Project:
|White Fragility: Talking to White People About Racism||Escape the “Act Like a Man” Box||The Lack of Gentle Platonic Touch in Men’s Lives is a Killer||What We Talk About When We Talk About Men|
Photo credit: Courtney Clayton on Unsplash