It hurts, this pain I feel in the wake of a breakup.
It doesn’t seem right but it is on par with the pain of my brother being paralyzed from the neck down, and the loss of my mother the day after Christmas. I shouldn’t be able to compare breakup suffering to these monumental losses. But that is how it feels, that is the truth for me.
In my world, the breakup of an intimate relationship contains thousands of ongoing inner deaths, drawn out over too long, I can’t make any sense of it, my only option is to hurt, and cry and wail sometimes.
So Many Breakups.
I once dated, and then lived with a stunning, fascinating and in my eyes nearly perfect French television correspondent. We were together for three years, and the break up pain lasted four years.
I have been in three relationships with handsome boys while in high school, then my husband, an incredible man, for 20 years, and then 10 dazzling women over the following 16 years. While I have never dated an alien, that is apparently all that is left for me.
It isn’t easy to speak of breakups, especially given that couples used to stay together forever, and my current balance sheet adds up to 14, and I am spending my nights alone.
In sharing this blog, I anticipate the possibility of us sharing our stories of how we have survived and thrived through the darkness of our broken hearts; hearts that at times have felt like they would never mend.
Pain and Medicine.
Post breakup moments are filled with the paradoxical mix of the deepest pain and the strongest medicine, like my husband saying,, “Moe, would you like a hug?”
He was clearly noticing how devastating it was for me to be in, and not part of, his new nest, and to face seeing my daughter’s new bedroom there, and to notice on his coffee table, “In Pursuit Of Happiness,” by the Dalai Lama, a book I would have loved him to be reading while we were together.
I couldn’t see a thing as I drove home, tears and snot dripping on my t-shirt. We were two people who still loved each other deeply and could no longer be together.
It is sixteen years since our coming apart and it doesn’t matter how much I understand that we don’t belong together, he still shows up in my dreams.
Here are my “Three Ways to Thrive in The Midst of Pain:”
1. Take it all in. We all know the honest truth is, in some moments you just can’t thrive, and admitting this is as fast a way to thriving as any I know. I watched myself once, curled up in the fetal position on the kitchen floor, witnessing one of those “soul shits” where you think you’re dying physically but you just lose a false part of yourself, or two, and then you get back up and continue to stir the pancake mix. We have all heard it plenty of times, but have we taken it all the way in? Opening to “What Is”, really is the medicine we seek. I don’t mind being reminded of that, one more time.
2. Do what you need to do. Sometimes thriving post breakup looks like abandoning difficult feelings. In my experience, I turn toward and meet the difficult terrain when I do, and turn away for a rest, right on time. How could it be otherwise. We are all standing on a big ball, spinning at high speed; nobody knows a damn thing about how this all really works. All there is is what’s happening, and then we all add a bunch of meaning to it. Distract away until we don’t, movies till our brains die of numbness, Facebook ’till we hate it, chatting to friends ’till we’re sick of their voice and ours. Do what we do, until we don’t.
3. Finally, I want me. For the first time in four decades I’m not leaving to date someone else. It doesn’t mean my heart doesn’t hurt or I’m not longing and pining. I am. What I am discovering is, if I don’t give in to the usual patterns and comfort seeking actions, I am forced to use my time on new things; I have walked in nature for the last forty five days with every intention of continuing. Last week I went sailing for the first time in my life. I swam a mile in a fresh water lake yesterday and I’m writing this first ever blog. There’s a lot of joy in letting new things come into my attention instead of my boring autopilot ways.
The great news is, we can’t mess up how we grieve or thrive or pine or stay as stuck as stuck can be, until we’re not.
I look forward to hearing how you crash, burn, turn and thrive as you navigate your post break up terrain.’
Author: Moe Bruce
Editor: Sara Kärpänen