Understanding one woman’s perspective on a painful breakup.
A week ago I had the conversation most people dread. My boyfriend and I had been in a rough and painful period for a while and the inevitable was around the corner:
My boyfriend and I were breaking up.
We both knew it was coming. We had talked about it or around it for a couple of months. There was a lot of heartache toward the end. It was too much to bear for either of us to continue the effort to force our relationship to work.
Regardless of how much you know it is the ‘right thing to do’ it still feels as if someone is reaching in, taking your heart and slowly, sooooo fucking slowly, squeezing it until you simply cannot take it anymore.
The bitch of it is break ups bring about so many unexpected and uncomfortable things. They make you doubt everything. Questions swirl and ping pong in your head causing nothing but anxiety. Questions like:
- Did they really love me?
- Did they not care enough about me to want to make it work?
- Were they lying to me that whole time?
- Did I make a mistake getting involved with this person?
- Was this just another experience of me not learning my lesson?
- How could the love and affection we felt disappear in the blink of an eye?
- Why be in relationships or even love at all?
To make matters worse, it is not only a mind mangling situation. Knowing the “talk” was coming had me experiencing all kinds of body sensations (nausea, numbness, body aches, shivers) and feelings (scared, hesitant, curious, nostalgic, ready, fine, sad).
Yet instead of shutting any of it down or making them wrong, I tried to be with it. All of it. Instead of fighting it, I began to ride the waves.
I vowed to myself that I would stay in the curious place and keep the intention of love in all of our interactions.
Don’t get me wrong. I cried. I cursed him, the Universe and love in general. I rationalized. I even tried to justify staying in the relationship despite my unhappiness in it.
It is that feeling of being alone that we avoid. Or lonely rather. I especially did not understand why I was resisting breaking up when I usually LOVE being single. So much freedom and fun. No headaches. No having to coordinate my schedule with another person. I can do what I want, when I want, how I want!
Yet I also LOVE being in relationship. I learn and grow so much. I get to love, give, care for and nurture my little heart out. I get to receive attention, affection, care and adoration.
I share my days and my life with someone and get satisfaction in knowing we are building something together.
That last piece is what was missing in my relationship. A big fat crucial piece of a relationship, at least for me anyway, I was realizing.
The process of figuring out my ‘needs and wants’ became an exercise in self care though.
Something I like to do post-break up is perform a relationship autopsy. I ask myself some of the following questions:
- What worked?
- What didn’t work?
- What did I like?
- What didn’t I like?
This is all in service of my happiness in the next relationship. As much as it hurts to have been dumped or doing the dumping, what is available on the other side has the possibility of being even better.
Here is the thing I have learned from all of my past breakups and especially after this most recent one:
You become clearer and stronger.
It is necessary to create tears when exercising in order to strengthen the muscle, the same thing goes for the heart. A broken heart really does make you stronger and makes it less likely to hurt as bad the next time around.
This past break up was hands down the most loving and least drama of any I have experienced previously. My ex shared that it was the same for him. We had awesome communication throughout and that happened in both the good times and the not so great times (guess that is the perk of dating a life coach).
Both the ups and downs in my relationship taught me a shit ton about myself, and what to look for, as well as avoid, in future relationships.
Sounds crazy but I appreciate my ex. In every way.
What I appreciate the most is his courage and honesty in letting me go. I know it hurt him to not be able to give me what I need and see me in pain because of it. He could have kept me around, dragged out the dysfunction and ignored the inevitable, but he didn’t. Instead he took the higher road.
Now I am free, clearer in my needs, and oh so much wiser.
So yes, break ups are BOTH a bitch and a blessing. But at the end of the day, I prefer to see them as a blessing because of the immense clarity and growth gained.