Well, things have been pretty shitty this past week. Not insurmountably shitty or anything, but definitely not at all pleasant. I worked a lot over the weekend, and that was good for taking my mind off of things, but it turns out that taking your mind off of things can sometimes have the adverse effect of…putting your mind back on things. For instance, going to a sporting event with friends, learning something new, reading a great book, even a busy day at work- those are all things that I would have talked to my ex about. So instead of thinking ‘Wow, this is fun! I love my friends, and we are having a great time!’– instead of thinking that, I am thinking ‘Wow, this is fun! I can’t wait to tell J what happened! Oh shit, J and I aren’t talking anymore. We are never going to talk again, and I will never get to tell him about this. I wonder what he is doing…’ and on, and on, and on. Now, I know that having these fleeting, painful realizations is normal, and probably better than the alternative: a constant stream of realization as I sit in my apartment and watch break-up movies and cry. But I do think that it is important to maintain a healthy and realistic balance. I have to feel this stuff, or I will never get over it. The sooner I allow myself to accept everything as it is, the sooner I will begin to heal. Spending time with friends every day, and picking up a bunch of extra shifts at work, is nice- but it isn’t sustainable.
I will say this: Over the course of this relationship, which was three years long, I would venture to guess that J told me over 100 times that ‘We don’t have to be in this relationship anymore,’ or ‘You can find someone who does not do such and such,’ or ‘Have you ever thought that maybe you will just never be happy in this relationship?’ or ‘I can’t do this anymore,’ or ‘I am getting really sick of this.’ So naturally, each time he would say something like that, I would take it seriously and start to treat the situation as a potential break-up. I would cry a lot, read books and advice, call my sister crying, start thinking about my future alone, etc… Then, within a day or two we would have a talk, and work it out, and everything would be fine again. However, those things would stay in the back of my mind, and I was constantly wondering if we were just one fight away from breaking up. We never went a whole day without speaking, but those days following fights like that would be terrible and anxiety-riddled, usually with me spending the day waiting for a text from him and then eventually breaking down and calling/texting him to ask if we could get together and talk. I often wondered if I hadn’t done that if we would have broken up a lot sooner. Probably. Anyhow, the good news…
All of those times that I thought that we were going to break up, and I became devastated and couldn’t imagine life without him, and couldn’t imagine dealing with all of the feelings I was going to have to deal with, and I had all of these thoughts and ideas of all of the terrible things that were going to happen- it really isn’t as bad as I ever thought it was going to be. It sucks, sure, but during those times when I was sure that it was happening and would have done anything to stop it, if I had known that it was only going to be like this– I probably would have done it much sooner. The bottom line- it is not as bad as you think it is going to be.
Something else I thought about: During my time with J, whenever we would get into a fight and I would feel terrible and spend my day crying and miserable- what I was doing, was waiting to talk to him so that, essentially, he could make me feel better. Don’t get me wrong- he wasn’t sympathetic or compassionate at all. He did not apologize, or pet my hair, or touch my face, or tell me that he didn’t mean things- in fact, he did the bare minimum: he participated in the conversations. But that was all I needed in order to feel better, I guess. I just needed to have a conversation. At first, I needed the conversation to contain apologies, and a compassionate moment in which we affirm the way that we feel about each other, and that we both messed up. Then, after I found that I was never able to get that from him, I began to need the conversation, and maybe an apology, but was fine with no compassionate moment. After even more time of not getting this, I slowly began to only need the conversation, and I would commend him for simply talking to me- thinking that he was making great strides emotionally, and he truly was focused on making things better between us. Just because he was willing to have a conversation. So when we are in relationships, it is important to communicate, and a lot of that communication is imperative following a fight, and with the fight comes bad feelings, and so regular people have a regular conversation about their feelings, and then are able to come to an understanding of how they can prevent the same situation from happening in the future, and what themselves and each other need in the future. And after having that conversation, people generally feel better (at least they should,) and then they move on. So during the break-up, you feel really really shitty, and you are used to something making you feel better when you are feeling shitty about your relationship: Your partner, and whatever it is that you two do to make things better after a fight. So it only makes sense that the minute you start to feel shitty about some aspect of the break-up, you want to call him/her. This is a habit that you have formed over the course of your relationship! Feeling better = talking to your partner. But you know what is kind of cool about this new situation? You are now 100% in control of your feelings, and of the situation. You don’t have to wait for them to start feeling better. You don’t need to get their validation, or accept their point-of-view, or admit to doing something wrong that you don’t necessarily feel like you did wrong. You get to learn to start working things out on your own, and while there is a quick-fix to your bad feelings (calling, texting, seeing them,) doing those things is not going to build you up. It is just a habit that you have to change, and it is going to be painful and hard at first, but in a little while you will start to realize how gratifying it is to make yourself feel better, and take back control of your feelings.