It’s an interesting place to start a story: the break-up. Usually stories like these start out by my telling you just how great he was in the beginning, and how many good and fun things we did together, and how I pictured marrying him and having kids with him, and how I can not see myself going on without him in my life. And then I tell you about the problems we started having, and how we began to build on a shaky foundation, and how we piled so much on that we just wanted to ‘start over,’ but when that didn’t work we ended up here: broken up.
The thing is, that is not this story. Our relationship was less a series of nice times, leading into a series of rough times, eventually leading into a series of events that we just couldn’t fix. Rather, our relationship was a series of near-breakups, one after another after another. It was also the anxiety that comes with instability, and a constant doubt in my worth as a girlfriend and as a partner. I’m not saying all of this from the standpoint of a bitter ex, nor am I unable to accept my own responsibility in the matter. I am saying all of this because I want to document my recovery not from a good relationship that took a wrong turn, but from an extremely unhealthy relationship that should have ended in the same week that is started.
I like to think that I am strong and resilient, and I think that this is true, but I also consider myself to be much less strong and resilient than I did prior to being in this relationship. I know now that it is easy to look in from an outside perspective and say ‘I would never let MY boyfriend do that…’ When it comes down to it, though, the good feelings and the time invested, and the self doubt and future worries- all of those things can get in the way of putting an end to something that is obviously very wrong.
So we broke up. I finally took a good look at him, and at the relationship and said ‘I can not fix this.’ And believe me, I tried. I said to him (in my head,) “I am attracted to you. You have a good sense of humor. We travel well together. You are smart. We have similar values. All of those things are important to me in a relationship, but at this point- they don’t matter. What’s weird, is that now that I’m in the break-up part, I’m realizing that a lot of the coping mechanisms I am using right now, I actually learned from the relationship! Meaning, the past three years feels like it has been a lesson in dealing with shit and still functioning properly in your every day life.
I want to say this: I know it wasn’t healthy, and I’m not complaining. I have a better understanding now of how and why people stay in unhealthy situations- whether it be with friends, relationships, jobs, or their personal state (depression, smoking, alcoholism.) I used to judge people a little bit and think that I would never allow someone to treat me a certain way, but honestly (and I hate to put it this way,) you can just end up getting used to it. We all like to think that at the sign of a first red flag we have the strength to kick to the curb someone who up until that flag has been nothing but sweet, sensitive, charming. The problem is, is there has to be a line: You can’t kick someone to the curb at the first sign of a problem. Problems are normal. You have to identify between an actual red flag, and a normal relationship occurance that only seems out-of-place because you just met this person. Once you’ve done this, the strength part comes in. I don’t know about you, but within the first month or so of a budding relationship (usually,) I am head-over-heels for that person! Telling all of my friends about them, dropping hints to my family that I met someone, spending my days thinking about them/wondering when I will see them again (which is usually every day for me.) So imagine going from that feeling, to seeing a genuine red flag, and being able to simply say: I see everything that you seem to have to offer at this point, and I like it a lot, and I was seeing this going places, but I have to end it here. Goodbye.
That’s hard to do!! It is hard to weigh it all out like that when you are clouded by your initial infatuation with the person. So sometimes you let a red flag go, because you’re not ready to acknowledge what that will mean for your relationship. But once you let one go, it becomes easier to let more go- the longer you stay with the person, the more justification that you have for essentially allowing them to treat you poorly because they said they were working on it, or you’ve already had a conversation about it, or you have a trip planned in two months, or you already told your mom about him, or you’ve been together 8 months already and you don’t want to just let that go, or any of the other thousands of reasons that we have for allowing other people to make us feel shitty, and for putting up with things that we shouldn’t.
And so I am here, and I would like to document this break-up one day at a time. Today is Thursday, and is day 4. Day 1, Monday, I broke up with him in the morning and spent my day with friends, and keeping myself busy and didn’t think about it too much. Day 2, Tuesday, I felt anxious and terrible all day. The weather was shitty, and everywhere I went I was reminded of him. I cried in the vet’s office because I was reminded of the fact that I wouldn’t be able to regale him with my vet-trip story, or show him the photo booth pictures I wanted to take with my cat. Day 3 was Wednesday, which is when I actually started this post. I must have been feeling shitty. I am tempted to call him, but when I think about doing it, it fills me with dread thinking that he may want to work things out. We talked a LOT, and that is the main thing I am struggling with. I don’t miss him physically, really, because he was so unhealthy for me. I miss having someone to talk about the mundane shit in my life with. And your friends and family always say- Just call me instead!! And that is sweet, but it is different. He was up-to-date at all times on the minutiae of my day (not in a bad way.) He knew what my cats were up to, if my bike got a flat tire, if I had a dentist appointment (I wish,) what I was planning to cook for dinner. It takes work to be that in-the-know!!
Having someone so ingrained in your life makes it all the more painful once they are not there anymore, even if it is the right thing to do. Without realizing it, I spend most of my days for the past three years, with him and our relationship somewhere in the back of my mind. For instance, at the store, I might go to buy a shirt and think: I can’t wait to show him this, or at the grocery store I may pick up a bag of that white cheddar popcorn just so he would have a snack, or as I was reading a book I may be considering whether or not he would like it. I’m not obsessive or anything, I think it is normal to be this way, I guess I’ve just never vocalized it before.
Changing the way you think about everything, every day, takes time. And I can’t help it but to get a stinging pain when I think about going to this certain part of town that we hung out at, or finally taking my cat to get a hilarious lion-cut, and not being able to show him. So for now, I will put those things out of the question, and deal with the every day things as they come.