On Writing About Breaking Up and the Aftermath, Emotionally (Because I Can)

I was waiting for the other shoe to drop.

I kept myself busy this weekend, trying to keep the mantra of “positive and productive” alive in my head to drown out the emotional white noise. I danced all night on Friday, went out to dinner with my brother and his girlfriend on Saturday, ran errands and took the dog to the dog park on Sunday. (I got to have the dog last weekend. It was lovely.)

Monday came, and then Tuesday, and with them, a surprising sense of lightness and joy. The days were great; the nights not so much. I’d not slept alone in a year and a half, and man, there’s some serious truth to the biorhythm thing. The nights are the worst. They stretch on forever.

Last night, it all caught up with me. I knew it was going to, but I’d been almost reveling in how calm I was, and I hadn’t prepared myself (not that I could have, really). The tears came, randomly, and then they wouldn’t stop.

I’m not going to fight this, I’d already decided that when the sadness engulfed me, I would let it happen. There isn’t anything but time that can fix these things. Even though I want nothing to more to keep muttering “be positive and productive” and channel everything into the future, I know that the pain of losing your other half is immense. And you have to let it happen or you end up bitter. I don’t want that. I have bitten off two of my nails, though, so the stress is starting to get to me.

I haven’t been good at eating or sleeping. I need those things, but right now, my body doesn’t want them. Tonight, I was going to scrub the house with wild abandon, and I’ve been unable to do much of anything. I did start some laundry, so there’s that.

Am I trying really hard to keep it “positive and productive”? Yes. Am I hurting? Yes. Is this for the best? Yes. Will it get better? It has to.

I know that I’m grieving, because the loss of any relationship is painful. I’m not pining for him or wishing he’d come home. But at the same time, I miss him. His nearness. Part of me keeps feeling that he’s just in the next room. The proximity sensors are so out of whack.

It’s just overwhelming for a million different reasons. The darkest part of me hopes he’s feeling as badly as I am. It’s just emotional pain on a totally different depth than I’m used to, and I’m not pleased that I’m feeling it. I don’t want to push it down because that will only create long-lasting and crippling complications, but I’m really sick of feeling it and it’s only been a week. I persuaded my therapist to ballpark a healing date and he said five weeks. He was very nervous about that, so don’t hold him to it, but when I asked him how long it takes normal people to get over a relationship and he said “several months to several years,” I think the look on my face forced him to reconsider. It was the “Oh, hell no!” look.

A friend said on Friday, “It’s just like skydiving. You’re ready to jump on 3 and they push you on 2.” That makes so much sense. So does the friend who told me that she had a boyfriend for five years whom she loved very much. The hardest part of their breakup was the realization that they would each become better people if they weren’t together. I think that’s going to be a piece of advice I cling to. I think we both stopped reaching and I think that being apart will allow us to grow as people.

When you think about it – or if you’d known us both – we are incredibly different people with different values systems. In the long run, there was no way we’d have been able to sustain a happy, successful relationship.  Just wasn’t going to happen.

Blerg blerg blerg. I get it. No one cares. Emotional pain is so self-contained. It’s this funny quality of the human condition, because when you’re experiencing a really strong emotion, all you want to do is share it, communicate it, get it out there, commiserate, be congratulated, be supported, be held, and so on. And yet, both extremes of happiness and despair are frowned upon. Because why should anyone be so happy? That’s some bullshit. And the sadness is not immediate to anyone who’s not forced upon it, so why dwell? No one wants to hear about it, because even though everyone’s been there, they’ve lost the ability to relate on that exact level. If they’re doing the support and commiseration or support and elation thing, it’s because they care, not because they feel it. They do get it, but they don’t get it, if you know what i’m saying. (You don’t. Think about that scene from “10 Things I Hate About You” when Bianca is trying to explain the layers of love, and she’s like, “I love my Sketchers, but I love my Prada backpack.” It’s like that. Never mind.)

It’s much like my mother’s motto for our teenage years: this too shall pass. And with it, so will the emotional reverberations. But for now, they’re bouncing around in my heart and the visceral reactions are alternating between frustration, triumph, anguish, and calm. It’s a hot mess happening in here. I’m okay with it. It’s good because it will lead to growth. But god, growth pains are the worst.

On the Right Dog, Appreciatively

The Wrong Dog – New York Times 

We got Acorn when he was 4.5 months old. He was already broken – scared, shy, hesitant. Whatever had happened to him before we got him was enough damage to last a lifetime. Even now, a year and some days after we brought him home from Mississippi, he cowers every time he goes in or out of the back door; he remains terrified of wood/linoleum/tile floors; he begs for attention constantly. He’s the same nervous baby nugget we brought home with us, cowering, terrified, alone. He’s a beta, through and through. (Nothing wrong with that, of course.)1

I’m so very happy that our rescue situation worked out for us – he definitely needed a lot of love and discipline, but at his core, he’s the sweetest dog you’ll ever meet. Trouble, definitely, but the best kind. I’m so grateful that he found us and that he’s melded so well into our lives. I feel for people who’ve loved and had to let go of dogs who just aren’t a good fit. I know it’s hard and horrible, and I respect the choice to let them go. I hate it (for both human and dog) but I know that sometimes, it’s the only option. (It also helps that Acorn had probably never seen a cat – or been inclined to attack anything – our cat Carlos hates him, but they’ve come to tolerate each other – when Acorn isn’t trying to eat the cat’s wet food.)

Our dog needed so much love to bring him into the confident dog he is today. He’s bad, but only when he hasn’t been walked enough. Case in point: the last three days. No walks = chewed up papers all over the house, chewed up trash in the backyard, catching him in the alley in the morning after I’ve let him out.

He doesn’t run though. Our yard is open, and we live on a busy street. He hangs out in the backyard, and every now and then we’ll find him in the front yard, lounging, or the alley, where, when called, he’ll guiltily sneak back through the gate like he hasn’t been gone. He doesn’t even approach the post man. He knows we’re his family. He begs for our attention, which I hate, but tolerate since I understand how much of it we had to give him in the beginning to earn his trust.

We couldn’t have been luckier. That post in the New York Times reminds me how lucky we are to have such a funny, expressive, adorable fur-child in our lives.

On Hurt and Hope, intangibly

Hurting other people is something that I try never to do. Emphasis on try. Sometimes it’s unavoidable, and through the hurt that I cause (regardless of intention), I hurt as well.

Sharing hurt is never pleasant. Suffering, regardless of cause, is painful but entirely unavoidable. A life well lived is full of moments of pure joy and pure pain, emotional and otherwise.

I’ve been doing quite a bit of reflection. I’ve come up short. It’s hard to try to help someone hurting heal, particularly when the hurt they’re feeling is entirely your fault. It’s hard when you’re hurting, too.

But to keep at something simply to avoid suffering isn’t a wise course of action either. Sometimes the hurt is unavoidable. To be free and live the life I want, I must ensure that my needs are met. I must ensure that I am doing the very best I can to become the person that I so badly want to be, the best person that I can be.

“You yourself, as much as anybody in the entire universe, deserve your love and affection.”

There are no words of solace, there are no words to soothe, to mend, to heal. The honest core of me and the apologies proffered are the best that I can do. And yet I still hurt because I know the hurt that I’ve caused isn’t easily mended.

“Better than a thousand hollow words, is one word that brings peace.”

Everyone has their own motivation in life, their own driving force. They carry with them their experiences and the wisdom that they’ve gained from those experiences, both failed and successful. Love and life are so similar, so miserable in their sorrows, but so miraculously wonderful when they work. And so very worth it.

Hope is the only thing that can drive healing. My hope for the best is guiding me right now; it’s the one thing I am entirely certain of. To hope is to be invigorated. That hope will drive away sorrow, or at least mitigate the dull numbness edged with daggers that circles the heart and threatens to overwhelm.

“No one saves us but ourselves. No one can and no one may. We ourselves must walk the path.”

Moral of this story: Ugh, walking the path sucks, but you just have to keep on keepin’ on.