Now that I got two breakups in my short career in love, and finally have a heart healed, think I can talk properly about breaking up. These are a few things I learned in the process:
– There’s always some stuning opinions about your ex after the breakup from your friends and family waiting outside your door (and about yourself I bet, even if you don’t know)
At least one person will reach you in a hurry, like she was traveling for years from a distant land with an emergencial message, right after your breakup and say “Now I can say it to you! Thank god you broke up with him/her! She/he was such a jerk!” or something like that. It was hard, when I first made the split public, to hear what people thought about my first ex. Because I truly liked him, as well as loved him, I assumed others liked him, too. But when word got out about it, quite a few friends called to tell me they’d always found him a bit of a jerk.
I imagine they thought I’d feel validated – if he’s a jerk, then I was right to leave him! On the other hand, I was dating that jerk for an awfully long time. At the same time, I bet some of his friends might have said something worse than that about me. I’m not a particularly sociable person. I am capable of ignore many, many conversation starters if I do not happen to feel like chating, and I know some people hate me at first sight for my lack of small talk ability. I am difficult and remote, and I was genuinely incapable of suspending a bad mood just because, say, he wanted me to meet some friends. If I like you, I talk to you; if I don’t, you’ll know. Awkward silences never fazed me, and he used to compensate it by talking a lot.
– The beast you turn into in the eyes of everyone
When you are the guilty party – the one who wrecked the relationship, then walked away from the ruins despite being begged to stay, you are not allowed to feel anger at the person you left. Yet I do–oh, I do. I am filled with fury, horrible feelings I never knew I harbored toward the man with whom I stood, quite calmly, for five years. I’m not allowed to shock myself when I hear my ex started to date someone right after I left him, moved in together some months after, and married as well. I’m not allowed because wasn’t I who ended everything? Wasn’t I the one who sent away the poor man who begged to stay? Well then, I’m not allowed to be angry that someone said the most loving absurd things like “you are the love of my life”, “being with someone else will just be a copy of us”, “we should live together and marry!!!! then things will be ok”, “you’re my best friend, we’ll remain friends” and a few days after shut down all contact with me to appear dating on my social media with adorable pictures of a new love of his life.
You are also not allowed to admit that you miss certain things about being in a relationship. And yet I do. I miss the ease and predictability of the relationship itself, the privacy and anonymity of living as two. I miss the no-brainer of the long term relationships. But since there’s no going back, I’m wildly eager to go forward. Burn the bridges–burn them all!!!
Finally, you’re also not allowed to be rude if your ex, now married, try as fuck to be in touch if you. You should be cool, nice and warm, he’s just being a nice friend. That’s what he expects, that’s what everyone expects. “I don’t know what happened, but it’s been so long we don’t talk to each other”. Well I know honey, you disappeared and got married!!
Guess what? I’m not giving a fuck to any of these rules, in any of the two breakups.
– The shocking about something that would be obvious if you were watching yourself on a tv show
No one gets into a relationship thinking it’ll end. There’s a script for falling in love (“You’re not just my boyfriend, you’re my best friend!”) and for marrying and having kids and doing the whole thing we all do in lockstep together, and guess what? There’s a script for breaking up, too. The people who leave all say the same things, and the people who don’t want to split up hit their predictable marks time and again. And no one can believe it’s happening. They never, ever would have thought it. Those of you on the outside, who hear that friends are on the skids, who phone each other up and say “My god, I can’t believe it! Can you believe it?” You’re not alone. We can’t believe it either, so don’t get too excited. We’re as shocked and dismayed as you are, even if it was obvious from the start.
– The fear of déjà vu
In my second relationship, although I was indeed in love, I was obsessed to the point of unhealthiness with the idea that love could be an impossibility. Like a hypochondriac, I was forever taking the relationship’s temperature, fretting over imaginary symptoms. Before we started dating, I worried that if we did it would be unsustainable. At the same time, I worried that not being together would destroy us. I worried we would accidentally get serious, even though neither of us wanted it, and that we would breakup. I worried that we would fall out of love and not realize what had happened until it was too late. I worried that the very obstacles that we worked so hard to remove, so that we could be together, also would keep us keenly intent on one another; without those obstacles, I worried our affection would wither and fade. Well, after seven months, plus one “serious” month, it ended indeed.
I knew I was being ridiculous. I knew it was some paradigmatic post-breaking up stage–something everyone passes through a few months after the dust settles. The irony of what I was doing–actively fucking up a relationship because I was worried it could become fucked up–was not lost on me. I was old enough to know better, but I did it anyway somehow.