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Dumped. It's such an unbelievably shitty term to apply to a human being right? Well, in my experience, it's an unbelievably shitty feeling, and you already know I endorse accuracy of language, so let’s talk dumpage.
There are as many types of romantic relationships as there are types of people in them, and, as such, there are all sorts of ways that they begin and end. There are as many healing strategies as there are ways to be hurt and things to heal from, but my focus right now is anyone who’s been truly dumped, caught unawares while having the nerve to think they were in a happy relationship that was moving forward.
Because of the immeasurable depths of emotional dishonesty, even otherwise well-adjusted and rational adults can give absolutely no clue of their true feelings, even to those closest to them. Sometimes they’re not even aware of them themselves. This is but one of the many ways in which we come to have story after story of people being dumped within spitting distance of their wedding day, or being left at the altar.
I've been dumped. I've had someone I thought I loved, knew, and trusted, and vice versa do an abrupt about-face on me with nary a warning nor explanation. More than once! And it hurt like hell. If what you had with someone was not especially serious and they unceremoniously show you to the proverbial door, that’s still painful, but to think you're moving forward with someone only to suddenly find yourself sitting at the side of the road getting smaller and smaller in their rearview mirror as they speed away — that's the stuff that can dim even the brightest internal light.
So, in the interest of anyone who’s in that dark place being able to shine again, I want to tell you what I couldn’t tell myself all the days and nights I spent crying on the floor. We all know that relationships come and go, and you will feel better again one day, and by all means cry and wail as much as you want to. And when you’re ready, remember this:
1. You just got smarter.
Tough love time, straight out of the gate: If you feel that you’ve been dumped completely out of the clear blue sky, that could absolutely be the case. Orrrrr/also/as well, they might have been clues that you didn’t pick up on. One of the horrors of being dumped is that I tend to mentally replay everything, beating myself up while searching for some memory of foreshadowing or warning that I had missed.
Try not to do that. It reduces your life to a re-watching of an M. Night Shyamalan movie, which is dreadful. Instead, if we can take an honest look at circumstances with an eye toward the future, it’s like leveling up in a video game.
Overanalyzing every fight with your Dumper does you little good now. Paying attention to your gut feeling the next time you fight about a similar thing with someone else is how you’ll get in tune with your core desires, threading the needle of learning from past mistakes. It’s a needle because it takes specific aim and focus to learn from our past pain without carrying fear and mistrust of someone from your past (who deserves it) with you into the future, putting it between yourself and someone who might be able to love you.
2. There’s so much objectively cool stuff about you.
Even the best, most successful relationships can cause us to lose a little bit of ourselves, and when they end with no notice, we can feel empty and lost. It sounds like a cliché, but it’s time to remember who you really are, which is more accurately described as learning who you really are now, because this experience has changed you.
We already know you just got smarter, so what else will you discover? Will you draw or paint or knit a kickass project that’s the type of time-consuming, solitary activity you had sidelined? Had you not been going to the movies because Dumpkins didn’t like going? Go see all of the movies! Whether it’s as big as moving out of state, or as small as having Pop-Tarts for dinner all week, you’re free and grown and capable of greatness.
3. Insults spoken during a dumping hurt more but matter less.
After much reflection, I have compassion for my Dumpers. I wouldn’t have made the same choices as them, but they’re human too, and I don’t imagine dumping someone out of nowhere is a fun way to spend an afternoon from their perspective either. They’re doing something on the fly, making it up as they go along. If they could handle it better, it wouldn’t be a surprise dumping in the first place, so of course what they mean to say is gonna come out wrapped in a word turd of randomness and possibly insults. That’s how I’ve come to understand that some of the INCREDIBLY hurtful things they said to me on their way out hold less water than a slotted spoon.
Hearing terribly personal insults from someone that close to you hurts incredibly, especially when they’re backed up by the action of dropping you like a hot potato. Every relationship includes anger and conflict, and sometimes people with temper issues say awful shit but then apologize, but if you’re insulted and called names as they’re walking out the door, it’s phenomenally easy to take them to heart.
I once had a guy attempting the “It’s not you, it’s me” lane of high praise as he dumped me fumble it so badly that it turned into me being SO great in SO many ways that I’m “too much.” He told me I’d be too much for anyone, ever. And I took it to heart. It took me years to grasp that there are two sides to every story: I’ve now been told I’m “too much” by two Dumpers I’ve survived, and as much as the first time hurt my heart, it was compounded exponentially upon repetition.
I took on the feeling that if more than one person is saying something about me, then it must be true, when in fact, it’s entirely possible that I’m not “too much,” but these are two men who are “not enough.” Or, I could have indeed been “too much” for them, which doesn’t mean I should just pack it in and choose spinsterhood.
4. Your emotions right now are what make you human, and not caring is not cool.
I’m a fairly cool chick, but I’m not down with IDGAF culture. When it comes to important things like my relationships, I do give a fuck, proudly, and I ask that of people in my life as well (ooops, there I go being “too much” again…lol). Hopefully you’re getting the clear message that you are OK through all of your tears after a dumpage and it’s only natural to be upset, but I know that, personally, I’ve felt additional anger when it seems my DumpDudes were…not.
This can apply to anyone, but especially men: Seeming unbothered in times of stress has somehow become cool. Rest assured, dear heart: They are the furthest thing from unbothered. That compassion I mentioned earlier tells us they’re hurting too, and if you feel so hurt right now that you don’t want to feel for their hurting, that’s fine too. Just know this: They’ll end up hurting more in the long run because they’re not dealing with it now.
And that’s how the cycle goes: Emotionally aware people get smarter and stronger because we’re willing to spend the time crying on the floor that they’re not, and they carry on and hurt another one of us until something forces them to take a closer look at themselves and/or they get help.
That’s the goal, but it is not your responsibility. I actually really hope they see the proverbial light, because hurt people hurt people, and I’m so tired of it. Someone from my past recently reached out to say how “fucked up” he was when we were together and apologize for the way it ended, he didn’t mean the rough things he’d said, blah blah blah. He went to rehab and is now in a happy relationship. Good for him.
That particular ending had me shook when it happened, and here he was confirming what it took me literal months to understand, so for everyone who won’t get a literal apology years later, trust me: They’re sorry (in every sense of the word).
And think of how much stronger we get when we have to do all that emotional heavy lifting on our own instead of having it handed to us or dropping it in someone else’s lap and walking away.
5. You probably dodged a bullet.
I KNOW YOU DON’T WANT TO HEAR THIS RIGHT NOW, but if there’s a little thread of thought in you that believes this, let it live. For all the exes out there I just described who are hurting in a different, dysfunctional, projection-filled way, there are actually some who don’t care all that much, and maybe they never did.
And that really hurts. There’s no way around that, but you also know that building a phony future with them would’ve been the real tragedy. You deserve better than someone who could be this careless with your heart. It’s OK right now to still want them, to think about them all the time, especially with the demon of social media giving us inappropriate access to the lives of people who excised us from theirs, but ultimately it’s better to grieve, repurpose that wedding dress or the wedding itself in an awesome way, and recover.
Which I promise you will. Because you’re awesome.