I think I knew it was coming…
…our normal arguing seemed different this time around. His reaction to it all was very different. I’d seen him do this before. I knew what was coming next. I knew the time spent with his family, was him organizing his next steps. That fateful night, I almost didn’t have the conversation with him. I let down my fear and I opened my door (literally and figuratively) to hear what no woman in a long-term relationship wants to hear.
It was over.
Without grace and shamefully, over the next couple of days, I tried to talk my way through my pain and ignore what he was asking of me. Even though, I’d asked for it a handful of times during our fights. See, although the facade of social media makes it seem like we were okay, we weren’t. Neither of us was. But as a prideful woman, I struggled with whether or not I was upset because he was strong enough to do it OR jealous that he was strong enough to do it. Or was it Ego? I told myself I’d asked for this a handful of times, but something never let me go through with it because something always kept me there. I blamed him for giving up on us and NOT fighting for us. There is still a small part of me that feels this way and that small inkling may never go away.
About two weeks of no sleep and no appetite, I was fully aware that I was in the grieving stage. I communicated more than ever to anyone who would listen. I felt like a leech of a friend, but the more I talked about all my thoughts and feelings the more I felt a sigh of relief. I also had a few different people provide some good insight, things that really made me think about my decisions, my actions, and my relationship. Why was it so easy for everyone else to see and be supportive of this decision that was not my choice? With my sadness blinders on, I was very sensitive to every single word and action J was sharing with me at that time. But being reminded that every couple goes through something similar to this was oddly comforting, even if they succeeded in their relationship, unlike us.
The first thing I did was recognize that I was NOT okay. That is everyone’s first question: “Are you okay?” The first time I was asked this, I started to reply on auto-pilot, “Yes, but it hurts!” I deleted it and replied honestly, “No, I’m not okay, I’m devastated. But I do know I will be okay and I just need to get to a good place.” I can’t tell you how many times verbally and through the written word, I admitted I was NOT okay. Looking back, I am proud that I was able to recognize this so early on.
This isn’t our first go at a break-up. We did it a couple of years ago, but we reconciled within less than a week. Again, the situation was the similar though. It was on J’s terms. Since that last time, I had always told myself I wouldn’t fight it when he did it again. I would not fight it all and try to salvage it, even though I did temporarily at first. I think deep down, I knew this would happen again, which was why I was a little more prepared this time around. You’re never prepared to end a 4.5-year relationship, but I think I knew we may not be forever. I let myself fall deep into whatever emotion I was feeling. I caved, at times, reaching out to J for comfort, but realized it was like reaching for shreds of hope that were not strong enough to hold me.
I needed to change the narrative of the story now. I couldn’t wonder where he was or who he was with, nor stalk his social media or his friends. Yes, I succumbed to that. I’m human. I would tell myself he was already trying to replace me to move on. Maybe he is. Maybe he isn’t. I did this a few times, but I taught myself this isn’t healthy. I could not move forward in ANY capacity, with this behavior. I thought it was a sign of maturity to stay friends, in real life or in the social media world. Quickly, I realized it is healthier to do what is best for me. Self-care. And with that, I had to block him, so I would not be tempted to look at his open social media pages if I were just to undfriend him.
Don’t get me wrong, it takes two to relationship. And it takes two to break it. I just needed some time to understand this. And to be honest, I still don’t fully believe we are completely broken. A lot was put on my shoulders during our initial talk, I felt blamed for our failure. To an extent, I was part of the problem, but I know when we both reflect on it, we both know we played a part in our destiny.
I knew it was time for therapy. I knew I couldn’t do this one on my own. While I have an EXTREMELY blessed support system, I needed a professional, objective third party to guide me in my healing. I did the smart, baller-on-a-budget thing and looked to my Employee Assistance Program (EAP) for the free therapy sessions they offer. Mind you, finding a therapist takes lots of time, which I did not feel like I had on my side. I focused on my task of finding a therapist, to distract from the heartache I was feeling. I took the list I received and did an Interwebs search on each one. I looked at their Psychology Today page or website, both if needed. I then called the ones I felt would be compatible with. Of course, none were calling me back. I waited in agony to hear from some. I also asked a few friends for recommendations. I used this method when we were looking for a couples therapist a few years back. Luckily, I was able to meet with two therapists.
Even though the first meet and greet was supposed to be 30 minutes, she let it go to 60. Within this short sixty minutes, I left with two important things to think about and help me further process the breakup: 1. Understanding that I personalized his actions and choices, 2. We went through a lot of extremely, stressful events in just four and a half years of dating. The first point really helped me look at everything differently. It helped me gather my shreds of hope and cut them myself. I was slowly accepting that we must go along our own paths right now. The second point was eye-opening. Trying to tell someone about a four and half year relationship in sixty minutes is a lot, and for her to assess that in such a short time was something surprising. I never thought about all of our stressful events in their totality, I just knew I lived them and (tried to) work through them — fully realizing that I did not process my emotions from many of them. So, even though I decided not to use this therapist, that sixty minutes was key to moving forward.
Next, I met with a woman who came highly recommended. To be fair, I hadn’t truly cried about the experience the entire time. I may have shed one or two tears, but not a truly ugly cry. I felt like I would more times than I could count, but it would just well up inside me and sit there like a lump. Like it would explode at any time. At Midtown. At work. Driving. Laying in bed, unable to sleep. But when I sat on her couch, I just cried. Like balled. She barely said anything and it just happened. After I left the first intro session, I knew that this was a place I felt safe, secure, and okay. No words can describe the exact feeling of knowing this would be a good fit, but I felt it.
The separation of our lives lived together for the past 3.5 years happened and all that task-oriented stuff helped me tremendously. I was having a really hard time being creative and concentrating on work, especially writing anything coherent. But anything task related was good for me to accomplish. Even better, I was moving from a townhome to a room in a friends house, which meant time to simplify, putting it mildly. I’d actually been wanting to do this since the beginning of 2018, but THIS was what needed to happen. I am devastated to lose my perfect gem of a home on the Grid — but I did not have the emotional capacity to find a roommate in such a short time. I asked around a little bit but didn’t care to worry about it on top of the heartache I was feeling at the time. In comes my friend and saves me with a solution to my lack of housing. Thus, began the journey to dissolve my current living and financial situation to another situation I am all too familiar with, prior to J — singledom.
Prior to J, I was single for a long time. Yup. However, while dating J I realized I probably wasn’t really open to dating all those years. I said I was, but I wasn’t really into it. If a prospect came along, great. But I wasn’t actively looking to date. I don’t really know why. Maybe scared, maybe really enjoying being selfish and focusing on me. Now I’ve lived through two huge break-ups: the first-love-and-move-away-to-college breakup and a REAL grown-up break-up. I know I will survive. I know I will thrive. I’ve been there and I know I will get there. Its the time in between that sucks the life out of one’s heart, mind, and soul. Its a process and I respect it, despite wishing it to hurry along. I didn’t realize the weight of our relationship I was carrying on my shoulders. From that fateful talk, I’ve felt lighter. Of course sad, but relief and overall lighter. My skin instantly cleared up, which is a small sign to me that the emotional distress I was suppressing was trying to show itself to me. Our bodies to tell us things, listen to them…
I’ve decided to put this in my space, well, because its cathartic to write about and because I share most my life with you. You’ve been on my journey before J, with J, and I know you will be there after J. I was about to write, “I haven’t changed.” BUT I have. You don’t go through a 4.5-year relationship and not change as a person. You learn. You grow. You keep moving. Even if it was at the expense of your relationship. There were times during the break-up process I said it was a waste of time and effort on my part, only to realize how nieve those statements were. Instead, I changed the narrative for myself and related to something I read on the Interwebs, “You’ve been a good woman to the wrong man.” J and L were in my life for a specific reason, although I’m still navigating what that reason is (and probably will be for a really long time). But it happened, I’m becoming a better woman for it.
Although my heart is still healing, I know I’m on a path of whatever is destined for me. I appreciate you joining my journey, whether the highs or lows, but just being there and giving me this space to do as I please…and actually coming back to check in on me. I’ve still not written my last #GaneebanTris post, because this all happened the week of my final training session and I haven’t had the creative energy to write it all out. But it will come soon, just as my heart will open to new love eventually, too!
I’m scared. I’m anxious. I’m mad. I’m hurt. I’m A LOT of things, each and every day. The feelings are fleeting and range from day to day. Some are easier and some are harder. And it pisses me off because it is so damn true — time does heal. Maybe not at the speed I’d like it too, but I know it is a process I must embrace and accept. Fighting it will only make this whole thing worse than it already is. Embracing each emotion and learning about myself is what I, at times, need to verbally remind myself. I find myself using phrases to get through those moments where there is an ache in my gut or my heart. I enjoy the moments where I’m with friends and family, working to truly be present, enjoying the distraction. It’s in the newly quiet moments that I find hard to stay mentally settled. I know time will heal. I know this. I tell myself this. But, until I am there, I will process life as it comes my way…
I’ve done a lot of talking with family and friends. BUT I’ve also spent a great deal of time reading various articles, especially on break-ups and relationships, on Psychology Today and Tiny Buddha. I’ve read some really insightful things and things that made me think, made me mad, made me sad, empathetic, and things that felt like someone actually took the words out of my mouth. At times I found myself becoming resentful, only to remember that this is just one of my tough life lessons. None of our memories and good times were wasted, nor were the hard and bad times. It was what was meant to happen and I experienced all of our highs and lows for a reason. Friends have also shared other resources to help with the healing process, all of which I’ve opened my mind too. An audiobook and a meditation, both of which I might not have been open too before. But I realized, if someone has something they think might help, I should try it, at least once. And you know what, both things helped tremendously when I let myself fall into them and not be closed minded about what I was experiencing. I’ve learned a lot about myself and our actual relationship, but there is so much more to uncover. I am taking this time to really understand me. I don’t care if it’s selfish and if it prolongs the family and love that I truly want in the end, it is a must right now.
One thing I’ve also started doing, which actually scared me when my therapist first suggested it, is journaling. I told her I blog and have written journal posts to myself via email, cause I can type way faster than I write. But she kindly said that’s great, but I need to journal. Write it out. She said you must journal. But journal to get to depths of myself that are scary and to the depths, I might not want to share with others. Taking this time to really understand me and understand the “why’s” of me. Keep writing and when you think you’re done, write and process more. This scared me! Like almost “I’m-not-going-to-listen-to-her” scared me. But I went out and treated myself to a cute little journal to inspire me. My little mint green journal looks inviting, even though it terrified me what may come out when I started. I think that’s a good thing. There have already been so many learning moments and growth over the last few weeks, I am eager AND scared for what else I can learn. I’m sure some of you will mock this, but self-exploration and growth is a very important, yet personal, choice and decision. Not everyone is equipped to do this. I don’t say that to brag, but rather to implore you to think about where you are in your path of life. Could you benefit from this depth of awareness? If yes, cool. If no, cool too.
I have no idea what is in store for me next, especially in the relationship department. I do know I’m focusing on self-growth and healing at the moment. When a friend suggested I try speed dating with her, four days post break-up, I almost threw up with anxiety. Nothing about dating sounds appealing right now. Sharing intimacy with someone does, I can’t lie about that. But I know there is a greater love out there and I am destined to eventually find it. Or it will find me, but for now, I am just working on healing and simplifying things around me.
NOTHING prepares you for this…but I feel like I can breathe again…