It’s been six weeks since my 7-year relationship ended and I’m still processing.
Some days feel like I’m crawling through mud going nowhere, while other days I make major leaps toward a new life.
I remind myself daily, hourly, that there is no easy way out, no quick escape; that the only real cure is time and that I shouldn’t feel rushed to be OK.
I still cry, I still miss him, and I still hope. I may tell my parents and friends that I never want him back, but I still wish in the deepest, darkest part of me that he would come home.
I know that he won’t, that it can’t happen now, and I’m learning slowly to be OK.
What has happened are a lot of major life changes.
Six weeks ago I had never been on a date before, I had never been to a therapist or changed a light bulb, or had “single” as my Facebook relationship status.
I’m a goals girl, a planner, and, after the raw early days, I tackled my breakup the way most people tackle a school project. I made lists, I did research, I read articles and books by those who have been in my shoes.
I decided to try everything that makes me feel good, and to not worry about what anyone says because I’m giving myself the space, the tools, and the freedom to keep going.
I’m not an expert -- this is my one and only break up experience, my one and only boyfriend experience -- but here’s what’s been working and sort-of working for me.
1. Talking, Talking & Talking
If there is one supremely positive thing that has come out of this break-up, it’s that I’ve reconnected with a lot of friends; friends who had fallen to the wayside through the last years because when things are good, it’s easy to miss a call or forget to Skype.
But they have all shown up to support me.
They ask the right questions, say the right things. Every time I want to call him, I can call one of them: my best friend in Seattle, who has known the two of us since we started dating, a recently single friend in Los Angeles, who always has the best advice, a close high-school friend in Ohio, who somehow knows the right words to bring a smile to my face.
Talking is exhausting and analyzing is even worse, but it’s cathartic and needed, and I am beyond lucky to have friends who will always listen.
2. Moving at the Gym
I’ve never enjoyed working out. I used to do it because I know it’s good for me and I should, but it’s never come easy.
Now the toughness is exactly what I need. When I take a spin or dance or yoga class, I don’t have time to think about anything but the physicality of what I am doing.
I slam my fists into punching bags, I pound my feet into the treadmill, and I clear my mind in meditation during shavasana. It’s freeing, addicting and I’ve lost five pounds, so there’s that.
3. Flying Away
Travel was always something that my ex and I loved to do together. We explored cities; we climbed mountains; we planned to see the world.
At first the idea of going places without him, or worse, going places alone we were supposed to go together, seemed impossible, but now it's become what I need the most.
I pick places and cities that we never talked about, I visit friends who plan exciting adventure for us to do together, and go to parts of the country we never went.
It’s hard because there is so much I still want to tell him, so much I wish we could do together, but it’s liberating to get away from the memories of the apartment we shared in the city we lived in.
4. Going to a Crystal Healer
The night of the last super moon of 2015, I was walking home from work, when I passed a sign on Christopher street. “Heal your heartbreak with the help of a crystal." I was sold.
I sat with the shopkeeper for nearly an hour, telling her about how I was feeling, as she gave me different crystals to hold.
“This one," she said, passing a light pink rock, "it's Kunzite. She’s special.”
I’m a skeptic, but I swear in that moment, holding the kunzite, I felt lighter, so I bought it, along with a necklace to put the stone in.
“She will bring you healing, an open heart, and good thoughts as long as you wear her,” the lady said as she placed the necklace around me.
And I have listened. I wear it under my clothes, against my chest everyday, and I don’t know if it’s helping, but it is a good reminder of what I am aiming for.
I don’t want a relationship right now. It wouldn’t be fair to this imaginary future boyfriend or me, because I’m just not at that place yet. But I’ve been trying to go on a few dates.
Right now, they stress me out more than I enjoy them. A boy I met at a Halloween party, a guy from a bar, we chat for a few days, arrange a coffee or a drink, then I try and amp myself up to “date.”
Usually I have to force myself to go, but I know it’s something I need to do.
When you’ve only been in one relationship, with a person you’ve dated since high school, you don’t know how to flirt with a semi-stranger, or who pays, or how to come off as charming and not awkward.
My hope is that when I am ready, I’ll be in a place where a first date won’t terrify me, and perhaps I’ll even learn to enjoy the benefits of casual dating.
For now, though, I just try to enjoy that someone who isn’t my ex wants to buy me a coffee in exchange for conversation.
Laughter is supposed to be the best medicine, right? That’s how I ended up in a beginner improvisation class. I figure it would be a way to meet people, to get a little loose and gain a little confidence in my speaking.
I’m not a comedian or an actor, so I was worried I wouldn’t fit in, or make friends, but it’s been the opposite.
Everyone is supportive and nice. It’s challenging to say “Yes and.” It’s challenging to be a scene partner. It’s challenging to not worry about what you say, or how you look, and instead just be free. I have enjoyed the challenge.
I’ve only been to the first two of the six-week session, and already I feel myself letting go of the tight grip I’ve held on myself for so long. I never would have tried to do this when I was in a relationship. I just never would have thought to look out for it. But now I get a chance to try these things, to keep moving, and stay busy.
Turns out, it’s actually really fun.
Three days after my break-up, I wrote a pitch into XOJane. I was hurting and writing seemed like the only way out.
I hadn’t really published anything I wrote before, but I wanted my story told, I wanted someone to make me write.
So I sent it in, and then forgot I did it. A few days later, I got an email that they actually wanted me to write it, and I panicked.
I immediately decided to apologize and say I couldn’t, but the more I thought I about it, the more I wanted to write it, and under my name.
Yes, everyone who knew me and read it would know who it was about, but that seemed almost freeing. And yes, he could read it, which was scary and sad to think about, but that too seemed like a good way for him to understand how I felt. Sidenote: He did read it and he thanked me for not throwing him under the bus.
Writing it made me dive into my emotions, I wrote it over and over, until the words blended together and stopped making sense. The piece I started with was vastly different from the one I ended up with, but I am so proud of it.
Even reading it back now, a month later, I am stunned by how raw and hurt I am. It’s hard to read, but it’s been the best way to help me understand what happened.
More than that, the messages and comments I received after it was published were some of the most supportive things I had heard since the break-up happened.
So many loving words, and kind people giving advice and sharing their stories. It blew me away; it made me feel part of a community, and less alone in how I felt. Thank you to anyone who left a note or shared a thought because I read all of them.
I’m six weeks in and I have learned more about myself in these past weeks then I ever thought I could. I am lucky to be loved by so many, and I feel brave.
I'm not healed, not even close, but every day I get a little less broken and become a little bit stronger. So one day maybe, I’ll reach the other side.