Breakups are never easy. I've been through two big ones in my life - in both I was the "breaker upper." While it might seem worse being the one who is getting broken up with, I'm pretty sure it's safe to say it's equally as rough being the one to break things off. You are making the conscious decision to turn your life (and someone's you care about) completely upside down. Not easy. It's especially tough when no real "mess up" event happened. No cheating, no big fight, just a series of built up events that led to the inevitable end.
While I don't feel comfortable discussing the details of my personal break up here - I believe that is solely between my ex and myself - it is therapeutic to share my feelings surrounding the situation. The stages of healing I've been going through. And the emotional rollercoaster waves I've been riding the past few months...that I have a hunch (and have been told) aren't ending anytime soon.
So what did happen? I know you all are wondering. This has been the question of the summer. Here's the best way I can put it. We had a trigger moment. I left my 9-5 somewhat unexpectedly and needed to figure out my health insurance situation. I've always been an independent person and figured that out on my own, however, everyone and their mother kept telling me -- oh don't worry about it, just sign a domestic partnership agreement and you can get great benefits from the startup he works at. The truth? For a few reasons, I didn't feel comfortable doing that. That was an issue. If we had been together for 4+ years and living together for over 3 and a half and I want to be a "younger mom," this was just not adding up. This moment of realization triggered the dissipation of my "love haze" if you will and everything that was ever wrong with our relationship, his character flaws and patterning included, shot up to the surface and could not be ignored. TB( very brutally)H, my sex drive plumeted even more than it had already been tanking after struggling with hormone imbalance after coming off the pill, and there was just no coming back from the current state we were in. You can work together to solve problems, but you can't change a person entirely. My therapist translated all of my emotions and trying to make sense of the situation into one impactful sentence // illustration. Our life goals, though they may have been be the same, were not converging at the same spot in our journeys and weren't on track to ever intersect. It's the plain, hard truth. That being said, though it hurt to do it now, it would have hurt even more to do it three years from now.
Once the break up did happen - post personal therapy session AND couples counseling session (rash decisions are never good decisions) - the no longer live-in boyfriend left for a month of personal and business travel leaving all of his things in my apartment. In my space. Not to say that was wrong, the timing of everything wasn't great, but needless to say I couldn't be in my loft. I literally just couldn't deal with it. The whole place reeked of our broken relationship. I'm blessed that my mom and I are so close, both emotionally and geographically, so I spent most of my time at my childhood home or in wine country taking baths and indulging in all of my favorite self care acts.
The thing that surprised me the most? I didn't miss him. I didn't even really miss our relationship. I had gotten to the point that my life was easier and more enjoyable when he was out of town on business - bad sign...so being out of the relationship wasn't actually the painful part. What was absolutely excruciatingly and borderline unbearable? The fact that what I thought my life was and what is would be was no longer. I was grieving something that was never there, my perspective of the situation and our relationship. I was mourning a false reality, a fairytale if you will, not my actual life. If that's not messed up, I don't know what is.
It's so easy to get wrapped up in it all. Forgetting your self identity to become part of a unit. It's nice, it's comforting. To have a built in BFF, lover, travel partner. It makes like easier. Until it doesn't.
After the breakup, I went through, and I won't lie am still going through, this strange period of time where I'm trying to figure out who I am again. I'm certainly not the college girl I was 4+ years ago before I met my ex (truthfully I had recently come out of another longterm relationship just a couple months before I met him #truelifeimaserialmonogamist), but I'm certainly not half of that whole anymore either. Somewhere along the way I lost my self identity and needed to pick up the pieces and find it again. I realized I shut out a lot of my good girl friends, as well as acquaintances that given the proper time and care could have become really great friends.
The best news is, it's never too late to do that! To reconnect with old friends, make plans with new ones, and get out there and try new activities solo. That's exactly what I've been focusing on. I remember just how much I like to dance (though I'm definitely not the best at it), how great it is to not have to check in with any one and just have my own agenda, and to make decisions based on me and how I'm feeling. It's quite liberating once you get the hang of it. Also, the friends you used to not hang out with so much, if they really are great friends, won't fault you for it - they will be absolutely understanding, supportive, and excited to have you playing a more prominent figure in their lives again.
Besides the post-break up highs (you know like feeling independent AF and doing your thing) and lows (when you realize what you had is gone forever), there are also the weirds. For me the weirdest of the weird was made clear in therapy after I told me therapist I had broken things off. She told me I was going to have to find my own personal social cadence. If you're wondering what in the word that is, you're not alone. I looked at her with a blank stare and said, "my what?!" Social cadence is how much social stimulation you need personally to feel good about yourself, energized, and a part of the community. Is going to the gym and being around people - say things like hi, how are you enough stimulation for one day? Or do you need to make a coffee or walking date every day with a friend to feel your best self? This turns into quite the planning feat. People are flakey, people have lives, you can't usually just decide you want to go grab coffee or a movie like you would with a partner and just go. You have to plan - like a week or two in advance, sometimes more for intensive activities. This is where understanding yourself and your own needs comes in. You have to rely on yourself to come up with those plans in advance, make them, and stick to them. It sounds silly, but this was MIND BLOWING to me. I took that part of my relationship for granted. I would get up in the morning, decide what I wanted to do, and we would do it -- fabulous if friends could jump in last minute and join us, but if not, it wasn't the end of the world.
The other semi mind blowing // fun and exciting tidbit of post-breakup knowledge my therapist gave me? If you're staying in your living space, make it over! Like totally rehaul the thing to feel like a new home. This sounded GLORIOUS to me, but the reality was it was actually really overwhelming. I'm working on the process now with some help from Havenly, I literally could not have done it alone and will keep you guys posted in the next few weeks with the big reveal.
Thats all for now! Sending hugs to anyone going through a similar situation, I know I'm not the only one and always here if you need to chat.
P.S. Saturn returns are a thing, and break-ups are super common during this period of our lives. I have a handful of friends who are experiencing similar things and the synchronicity of it all feels very woo woo, but I completely buy into it all.