Tag Archives: breakups


A couple weeks ago I saw my therapist.  I was excited, because the last time he’d seen me I was mere days past hitting rock bottom in grief, just beginning to claw my way out of the scary, dark place I’d been living in for two months – eight pounds lighter, raspy -voiced, and high on rage.  I knew he was going to be impressed with my progress.  Even if I did gain four pounds back eventually.

“You’ve rebuilt your life,” he said.  “Good work.”  God, I wish my parents had ever talked to me that way.

I have a totally new life in many ways.  It involves new people, a new part time job, and an actual savings account.  This part I’m really proud of, and dreaming of what to do with, when, and how (and of course, continuing to grow).  My new life involves opportunities, completely uninhibited by anyone other than me.  And yes, my new life involves loneliness.  Frequent loneliness.  But, I’ve managed, for the most part, to not fake my way out of it.

I can think and talk and act my way around most of my bad feelings.  I’m working on telling myself I’m not my thoughts, and while I always welcome my teary, nostalgic, joyful emotions, I can now let the bummer thoughts and memories in for a moment, acknowledge them, tell myself it’s okay, and move on.  Not easily, but I can do it.  I do my best to not just look for constant external attention to avoid that acknowledgement.  I do my best…  But I haven’t broken up with my ego quite yet.  She’s gotten me many places with her bravado, and I know I need her to some extent.  It’s my ego that makes me brave.

Since summer, my refrigerator kept breaking.  In the heat of August the freezer stopped working randomly.  I can now admit I was in the rapidly deteriorating end of my relationship when I drank melted ice cream that was going to go to waste. I had just seen Julia Louis-Dreyfus do it on Schumer so it seemed cool.  I was tense, and I wasn’t letting myself get angry.  Within a few months my walls would break completely.

Almost six months and another broken refrigerator later, I ate out of a cooler on my back porch for a week and finally got a kind of new, empty one the night before I had to go housesit for ten days.  I was kind of stoked to get out of my place.  Life had already been inconvenient, many dairy products and condiments having perished, so the timing was good to be away from home.

I got lonely in the big house I was staying in after a few days and started moving my mountains of laundry back home.  I was sparked by the clean of my small, efficient apartment without me in it, and particularly by the spotless refrigerator.  Once again I’m overcome with the urge to discard as many of my belongings as I can and go someplace else, or be someone else.  Or at least spend a lot of time other places, really being myself.

I’ve always loved new beginnings.  It was so easy to move states when I wasn’t successful – I did it after almost every breakup.  This time, I wasn’t able to run away.  I’ve been forced to deal with myself, what I want to change, and my life as the sum of my choices thus far.  But I realize, even with all the new pursuits and people and goals, in addition to the spiritual and emotional work I’ve done in the gaps, all of the somewhat desperate doing, I’ve been scraping myself clean for months so I can really start over.  From broken to empty, I’m now dealing with the emptiness more than the brokenness, and emptiness is a painful freedom.  It’s a lot more work to get there when you have so much built.  You have to decide how much you are willing to throw away.

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Breakup Flare Up

Why do breakups last FOREVER?  I mean, there’s that “half the time of the relationship” rule, which we all know is total bullshit.  I’m inclined to believe they aren’t over until you fall in love with someone new.  Because until you do, you’re always going to miss the last one in some capacity as your last experience of the comfort of intimate love.

As long as there is any contact with an ex – you’re still in the break up phase.  I don’t believe in being friends with exes until vast time and space has passed, making you different people, who feel like less mature versions of themselves dated each other, making it less painful to remember.

They are all hard to get over.  But the hardest to get over are the premature ones, when you weren’t ready for the end – maybe the timing was off or someone overcommitted and ran away.  The breakups where you slowly begin to loathe the other person and avoid having sex with them – I experience the same emotions… but with a different degree and flavor of pain and anger, more bitter than anything about my former partner’s inability to be who I wanted him to be.  No matter what happens and on what side you stand – you realize, more and more fully as time goes on, how much you are alone.

My heartbreak pattern is:

  1. Grief Bender: Depending on who broke up with who and the length of the relationship, this lasts 6 – 12 weeks: Heavy drinking, smoking, serious weight loss, not much sleep. Somehow I look amazing in this period, like I’m high from depression. I emerge from the ashes of my relationship into this phoenix heartbreak phase extremely pissed that my ex isn’t seeing me so thin.  My stomach is alluringly flat and I look great in all my clothes and much younger than I actually am.  Somehow I never get acne despite how shitty I’m taking care of myself.  I go out every night and catch up with every person I didn’t see during the relationship. Then I come home and cry.  Or pass out.  But there’s always time to cry in this phase, it’s unstoppable.
  2. Forced Dating: Somewhere in the 6 – 10 week period I will try to force myself to date to distract my mind from thinking about my heartbreak and how much I miss my ex, especially physically (if the breakup wasn’t my call).  It will never result in sex because I’m still way too depressed and thinking about my ex constantly but may result in some awkwardness.  Or it may just be some dumb Tinder bullshit that doesn’t go anywhere.  In general I am not giving off an approachable vibe, I’m hot but completely fucking awkward as soon as you talk to me. This phase can overlap with the “It’s Really Over Phase” if I am unfortunate enough to run into my ex in public, and he’s also “forcing” himself to date.  Rock bottom happens here.  I can’t live like this anymore.  Potentially make contact with numerous exes from the past, either to dig up old bones or remember people who once loved me who I don’t now hate.
  3. Mistakenly Think I Have Found the Replacement: Happens between 2 and 3 months after the break up.  OMG how did I get so lucky to find my new boyfriend so quickly? Seriously this is crazy!  I’m not thinking about my ex at all because I’m thinking about this new guy all the time.  My therapist calls this a “transition relationship”.
  4. Disappointment: 3 to 4 weeks after “Mistakenly Think I Have Found the Replacement”.  Disappointment in the new guy followed by missing my ex, reliving the break up again, more crying, and anger that I’m not quite as skinny as I was in phases 1-3.  Suddenly I’m starting to look my age or possibly even older?  All vestigial confidence from being adored and in love has completely dissipated. Contact all other exes from the past, especially the ones I know I can easily make fall for me (again this is going to have nothing to do with sex, I’m still guarding myself like a vestal virgin).  My seduction is of the emotional variety, and I’m extremely needy.
  5. Crash: 4 to 5 Months after the breakup, I can’t keep up this pace anymore. My skin starts breaking out, and I start to actually get hungry.  I have built a new life that is very full and busy, has nothing to do with my ex, and requires more of my attention than being depressed does.  I remember that dating is total bullshit after multiple guys ask for my number and don’t call or cancel our first date an hour from game time.  I miss my ex.  I can’t believe he hasn’t contacted me. There is no way I’m the only one who feels this way, but I guess he is that much of an asshole and doesn’t care about me at all.  I become comfortable spending nights alone at home again, and even begin to look forward to them.
  6. Begin Dating in Earnest: Nearly half the time of the relationship has passed since the break up (or, 5 to 6 months at least if it was a long, fizzle out style one).  I realize I’ve been comparing every guy I meet to my ex, and I didn’t even like my ex when I first met him, how stupid!  I guess I’m never going to hear from him again, so I stop waiting to hear from him again.  I start to actually feel ready to date someone new, so of course-
  7. Ex Contacts: Now we’re at half time, so to speak, and my ex reaches out and messes with my mind.  He doesn’t say what I want to hear, and fills me with questions.  I relive the break up, and I cry.  I run in the other direction to the disappointing guy/s from phase 4.
  8. Continue to be Disappointed: The disappointing guys from phase 4 come back around (as they always do) as well as the multiple exes from the past I’ve been in contact with to prop up my fragile ego.  I remember that dating is total bullshit, and I miss my ex. Not necessarily because I think we should get back together, but because he had this thing that none of these guys I meet now have – he loved me.  And in that love, I was safe for a while.
  9. Repeat Phase 8: Until I suffer from the cold reality that I’ve become that icy island girl again, so used to being alone, or I fall in love again.  (But try not to become that icy island girl, try to remember what it felt like to love and be loved, so I can be open to it.)

Love is cruel.

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