I love when I watch a movie or show and a character does something so awkward, so unnecessary or over the top that as I’m laying in bed I cringe. Not even a bit of a cringe, it’s like my whole body cringes and I get that feeling in the pit of my stomach because I’ve been there and I know exactly what it is like and how awful it is.
Movies are really good at sharing experiences. They put you into situations that you either can identify with completely, or are foreign to but they do such a good job of whisking you away to whatever land, or genre it happens to be. Movies really do a great job of covering all the emotions and stories, except I’ve noticed for one feeling that is hard to convey in all its shades.
Breaking up. The feeling when the person you love breaks up with you and essentially pulls the rug right out from under you and you toss and tumble, stumble and fall and just as you are regaining footing you find out he’s already seeing someone else. Maybe even already asked her to move in and the feeling hits… It’s a hard to describe, but impossible to miss feeling of being so sick to your stomach in a whirlwind of angry, hurt, embarrassed, sad, enraged, humiliated, mortified, disgusted and broken into shattering little pieces.
Breaking up is one of the worst feelings, because it’s so isolating. I don’t mean the physical aspect of isolation either, where I am physically removed from the house we shared, and the place I called home but the emotional side of it. Breaking up is similar to when you are grieving the loss of a loved one. At first, everyone is in shock and disbelief with you and then a week or two later – poof, you’re on your own.
Our breakup surprised everyone, including myself, no one saw it coming… including myself. So breaking the news is also just super-fucking-annoying because I was still picking up the pieces and processing while people are in your face and just need to know WHAT HAPPENED?!?!?!!!!
It was a few weeks after we broke up, but less than a month that I had the idea but not the plan to move. Then another week or so it sort of was like “hey, I think I’m moving across the country in two weeks.”
My mother and her beloved let me stay with them while I was temporarily with out home. Surprisingly they were both completely on board for my haul across country and the veering hard left before the pan handle to settle in Texas.
Not all have this luxury of completely leaving the area still infected by dissipating memories of shared laughs and stolen kisses… or in our case stolen french fries. He wasn’t much of a romantic.
The night before I started my 3 day trek to the lone star state, while panic packing my storage unit, I came across a few of his child hood Christmas ornaments. I knew I wouldn’t want to mail them and since I was only a 15 minute drive from the house…his house… I figured I’d swing by and pop them in the mail box and avoid the 3 day wait time it was taking him to answer my texts.
I had forgotten a few things after the initial move out and he would text me to let me know he found something, I would reply and then 3 days later he would text again. Then he was insistent on us meeting in the home depot parking lot so he could hand off my forgotten items, even though I was in the neighborhood a few times.
After wrapping up the final bits of the storage unit I started driving to his house and began to entertain a funny thought, which I had had before: Wouldn’t it be funny if there was a girl there and that’s why we had to meet in the home depot parking lot? What would I do? How would I react? What if it was someone I knew?
Needless to say, as I pulled up Her car was in the driveway. And, it wasn’t any Her, it was Her Her a former co-worker of mine, who had always been slightly competitive with me and slight flirty with my boyfriend. To be fair, she didn’t know he was my boyfriend as we kept that a secret since we all worked together in the beginning, but I’m sure she knew now and also knew I hadn’t been gone more than 6 weeks at that point.
I knew it wasn’t her first time there, for one small, blaring detail… She backed in to the driveway, no one backs into that driveway, except for him. She’d been there before as that was exactly how he always wanted me to park, but I always refused to.
I can’t describe exactly, but it felt something like my stomach dropping to the floor boards of my car as well as my body temperature shooting up to about 140 degrees Fahrenheit. People normally see red. I saw plaid.
Now, I tell you that to tell you this – a break up is a bruise that happens on the inside. The pain and anguish is not visible to passerbys or even the family and friends that supposedly know you so well. It’s a pain that hurts, it hurts when you breathe, it hurts when you laugh, it hurts when you’re 4 months removed from the situation and a vision of them laughing together while cooking dinner, or snuggled on your couch pierces through your mind during a work meeting. Your stomach drops. You aren’t the same for the next day, or even week. It lingers, it nags. It sits with you and stares you down, it breaks you down and if it doesn’t make you feel like a piece of shit, well it certainly does make me feel like one.
My self worth has somehow been intertwined with these invasive memories that lead to visions of their couplehood, which attack out of nowhere and send me spiraling down the rabbit hole of self defeat.
My rational brain wants me to tell you that he was in fact, not the love of my life and our relationship was far from perfect or even totally fulfilling. I have a very hungry soul and he could not quench that demand. However, he was safe and stable, two things I am never described as.
While the pain still flickers in and out occasionally, like a house guest, like Cousin Eddie unwelcomed but unable for me to turn away I do have days of normal. It’s been 4 months. I’ve moved states, started a new job, got my own apartment. I have a table and some chairs and an air mattress and some random things that fit in my car. Mostly right now what I have is time with my thoughts.
In battle between emotional and rational mind I have written a few words explaining how I was not fulfilled: I was in a mold with him. I hit the ceiling and it was busting at the seams, he knew it, I was outgrowing the mold and he wasn’t even close to touching the edges. He let me go.
Now, when those moments of “take me back” or jealousy or “how dare he and she” creep back in I think of the mold. I think of me physically trying to climb back into a mold, or shell that I’ve outgrown. Like when Alice grows 100 feet tall. Why do I linger on the idea of trying to get back into that constricting old mold? It’s simple – it was safe, and familiar.
Starting my new life here, I am really so happy. I was very restricted in not only the relationship but that part of New York where we lived. I had been unhappy there for a while but was willing to settle- for him, and the sake of my family who lived within driving distance, for the first time in my adult life.
I have done more art, more creative endeavors, more concerts and more bucketlist things in the past 3 months, than I did in the 2 years that he and I were together.
I know this break up is for the best. I know he is a jerk for moving on – and to Her – before the bed was even cold. I know I am better off with out him. I know I have the world at my feet. I know the next 5 years are going to be my best 5 years.
But I don’t need you to tell me that. I don’t need you to say “fuck him” or “what an asshole” when I bring him up, or when you can tell I’m feeling low. I need you to know that I’m still bruised and fighting a battle within. At times, I feel like the loser because I was the one left out in the dust. Forgotten along the highway, left to pick up myself, with out a best friend anymore, without the person I shared my life with and for a few months with out a home of my own and that safe space to collapse after a tough, shitty day.
I don’t like feeling like I will be the victor wearing the laurels after this as I execute my 5 year plan, because inevitably I believe that they will end up together and live their stable and predictable life together. Which isn’t to say that’s bad. I know lots of people that are dying for that life.
Life isn’t a competition. It is however wasted comparing ourselves, scoring ourselves and effectuating insecurities and worthlessness. Have you ever met someone who was fully living their dream or passion? They radiate this energy of joy and wholeness. They blow everyone else out of the water whether or not they have the body, car, house, job or family you’ve always dreamed of having for yourself.
Tangible and intangible things are the plight of life. It makes you feel like you’re striving for balance, but the tangible things are so transient. There is no real worth attached to these things, they are if anything, support items. deriving from a need for comfort and belonging, which we substitute with tangible things that are easy and accessible.
Think of your mind in a store while shopping. You grab a thing and think “I need this, this will be great.” In reality it’s a fleeting moment of security and comfort, it’s not adding to your soul. It depends on the item though because as much as I love a new throw pillow from TJ MAXX, or an obscurely scented candle on sale, those things do not add to my soul.
This shitty $200 laptop I got at Wal-Mart is not adding to my soul, but the writing of this shitty blog is… It’s not about the furniture and things I left behind or the lack of furniture and things I have now. Love is love and we were in love. Or, at least we had a very strong, very real, very personal love between the two of us. Now there is not much left between the two of us, except some memories and a shared phone bill until November.
Feelings are tangible. They are so personal and so hidden beneath the layers of bullshit we parade around in day in and day out. But feelings are also transient.
I’m still bruised. I have bouts of anguish. I am moments of enraged ex-girlfriend who wants to punch walls and set things on fire. I am also at times just lonely and struggling to relearn life on my own. Setting my own habits and patterns, making choices that suit me best. I still fight some battles of breaking down in this journey, but the good news is as soon as I’m done breaking down there’s only one way left to go…
4 thoughts on “The Breaking Down of Breaking Up.”
It is quite nice to see you here again.
I love your stories. They are like a good chat with an old friend.
There must be some great tales in Texas.
Best of luck.
It’s been a long time since I have seen any blogging from you. You are still a wonderful writer. Best of life in TX. Keep writing,
sometimes pain forces (re)birth, and I think you’re going through it! So lovely to read your writing again,Duffy. Please keep it up! p.s. I was led here by reading your Month of May Challenge blog– and am even considering joining up!
Oooh I think you should do a challenge! What would you choose, do you know?