No More: How I Moved On From The Relationship I Thought Was Forever

 photo via  Alexis McMullin

photo via Alexis McMullin

It was perfect, until it wasn’t. My life had a warm cocoon of certainty to protect me from the anxiety that plagues me constantly. I had a hand to hold, a shoulder to cry on and a future so bright it radiated off of me whenever I spoke of it.

And then there was emptiness, and the proverbial rug was pulled out from underneath me. And all of a sudden I was me instead of we.

I remember the morning afterwards walking into work, and telling my manager who also happened to be a good friend. She’s not a hugger and yet she held me close, as if she was attempting to hold my floating presence to earth.

Our regional manager walked over and offered the condolence, “Well, when you’re young, everything feels like the end of the world.” And I forced a tight smile, suppressing the urge to scream back, “But this IS the end of the world, my world.” My partner had been my whole world.

I found myself that day, and in the days following, catching myself from referring to him. My boyfriend, this, my boyfriend, that. He was my reference point, my compass. The break had been so unpredictable that it felt as if I had been dropped on foreign planet in an alternate universe. My own body felt strange and alien.

There have been studies that have shown how a breakup can mimic the same patterns as grief, and I am a firm believer in that. Because I grieved. I am grieving.

Losing someone you expected to spend the rest of your life with doesn’t heal like a paper cut, it’s a wound that requires patience and care to mend.

And in one of those moments, where the pain felt so deep and unbearable I swore it would split me in two, I found something. It began as a slow build, starting as a raw pain and miraculously ending in freedom.

“No more.”

It played on repeat in my head every moment after the breakup, everything that was no longer mine, what had managed to slip through my fingers. Some were baseline losses, like no more plan for a house in Vermont or birthdays, anniversaries or Valentine’s Days spent together. No more seeing his name light up my phone, or Skype calls. No more getting to say that I was someone’s. No more getting to say that I was loved in a way that we’re taught we should wait our whole lives for.

And then there were the losses that caused me to pull over on the side of the road trying to catch my breath. No more subtle reminders like Washington Square Park in the springtime, or that super cliché Ed Sheeran song. Disney movies, pillow forts and the piercing blue eyes that looked just like the sky back home. Small, seemingly foolish things. Those were the things I wasn’t ready to hand over, the things I begged life to give me back.

So, I wrote it down. I itemized everything I missed and everything I would have to learn to move through life without. Because I would live. 

As dark as the tunnel seems we are given the prospect of the light.

And as I worked through the list, as the losses poured out of me, something beautiful happened. I began to realize not only what I had lost, but what I would gain through that loss. The pieces that had been holding me back, the pieces that I had learned to live with in spite of their cost.

There would be no more waiting, no more holding what was visibly broken together. There would be no more secrets or comparisons. No more sleepless nights, or unanswered calls. My anxiety would remain but the cause would not be rooted in silence.

And in this revelation, slowly but surely, the breakthrough began.

It was as if this had dusted the cobwebs off of my consciousness before it had been linked with someone else. Slowly “we,” was turning back into, “I.”

In the weeks that followed, the twinges of loss became less sharp and sudden, and morphed into a dull throb that I learned to breathe through. In itemizing my pain, I had given grievance to the woman I was, and given marching orders to the woman I had filed away in order to be a “we.” And in exchange the terrifying chasm I had been afraid to bridge without my partner, I became palatable when I grabbed the hands of those who held space for me. Because there is no such thing as going it alone. I was loved, and I still am. There may be “no more” of that love, but love still remains.

 

What have you discovered about yourself from a romantic or friendship breakup? Share your learnings in the comments.

 

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