It’s been 5 years today since my engagement dissolved.
That’s a really nice way to say “today is the 5th anniversary of the day my heart was ripped from my chest, chewed on by dogs and possibly a rabid wolverine, stomped on a bit, put into a blender on the ‘purée’ setting and then placed back into my chest, which was then hot glued shut and then stapled.”
It was not a fun breakup.
I had been unhappy for quite some time. I knew the relationship wasn’t right for me, but we had kids involved, so I stayed. And I retreated further and further into myself until I was not really me anymore.
So one weirdly stormy Thursday in July, my then-fiancé told me he didn’t love me anymore, and that it was over.
There was no real lead up. He just sat me down and said “we’re done”.
I don’t remember his actual words, to be honest. I remember he said he didn’t love me anymore. I remember the words “we are done”. Everything else he said is kind of foggy.
What I do remember is the pain. I remember the way it felt right as he looked me in the face and said he didn’t love me…felt like Tower of Terror as you drop. (Maybe that’s why I don’t enjoy that ride?) It felt like terror and pain and someone shot me right in the chest. A sucking, gaping, sudden wound.
I remember my friend Stephanie picking me up and taking me to buy some beer and sit in a park and watch a thunderstorm roll in. I remember crying until it felt like my eyes were gritty and dried out.
I remember the next two months where we lived together and tried to work it out and I had to endure another breakup when he said he didn’t want to try anymore. That I wasn’t worth it.
This picture was taken during that time. And if you’ve known me or read my blog or talked to me on social media for any length of time, you won’t recognize that person.
After the breakup, I was done. I put on a smile at work, I took care of my kids, and when the sun went down, I cried. Every night for months, I cried. I watched Supernatural reruns and sobbed until the neighbors complained. I cried in the bathroom the few times that the friends I had not scared off tried to take me out dancing.
I tried to date. I had a hopeless crush on a man that turned really sour and got me fired from my job. I tried to go “trolling for men”, and came off as horribly sad and desperate.
I tried desperately to find life in anything, but everything was like ashes in my mouth.
I had defined myself by my ex for so long, and I had lost everything I was and couldn’t find a way back.
So I took a weekend without my kids to course correct. To stop being a black hole. Stop crying. I was dehydrated and exhausted and after 6 months of keeping my sadness to the dark hours of the night, I was tired of hiding. I wanted to see other people and I wanted to move on. I wanted to find joy somewhere.
It took more than a weekend to completely heal, but honestly, this was my pivoting moment. It was the moment I turned my face towards the light.
- Make a list of all the things that are TRUE and light-filled about you. Not “I am broken” or “I am sad all the time” or “I aspire to be Eeyore”, those will not remove you from the bog of your breakup. Things like “I love watching surfing” or “My eyes are beautiful and green” or “I am super knowledgable about cooking”. Kind words about yourself. And then reread the list when you’re feeling like you don’t know who you are anymore, because you have lost a large part of yourself and that shifts everything.
- Forgive yourself. Write yourself a letter forgiving yourself. Use kind words and love and be gentle. You are healing from a wound. It might not be visible, but it hurts just the same. Tell yourself that it’s ok to be sad, but you would prefer to be happy. Tell yourself that you can do it. That it’s just one foot in front of the other. That’s it’s ok to fall, but y’all need to get back up. Tell yourself that you love yourself.
- Reach out. Tell one of your friends or your family that you need some kindness. Ask them to take you out or make you move. Your sadness wants you to be sad. Wants you to spend all your time on the couch with endless reruns of Supernatural. Sometimes you need a firm hand to lift you up out of your doldrums and make you leave your house.
And a bonus item:
- Don’t get into another relationship for a while. Only you can define what “a while” means. And be honest with yourself, don’t just say “I am ready!” because you want to Get Some.
It’s been 5 years since my breakup, and I can finally say with confidence that I am free of that pain. I had been in relationships for the better part of nearly 20 years, and I needed to be by myself to find out who I was.
I’ve been single for 5 years, been on one REALLY DISASTROUS date, and I don’t feel like my life is empty because I don’t have a boyfriend.
We are whole people on our own. If you are coming out of a breakup, you can’t see who you are on your own if you start jumping into another relationship. You need to heal. You need to complete yourself before you date anyone else.
Be you first. Then you can find a partner, not someone to complete you.
Because you will already be complete <3