September 2019 is all about self-love here on Love in a time of Feminism! Inspired by a year of recovery post-breakup and learning how wonderful it can be to be single, the Faerie Queen (along with friends) now wants to share the many things that helped her to not only heal her broken heart, but also set her off on a path of self-discovery and – quite frankly – better mental health. Today, we’re talking about… breakups!
Let’s not dance around this. Breakups suck.
Today is one year since the breakup that really shocked my system. It was unexpected, following our first proper holiday away, plus both being there to welcome his sister’s baby into the world just a few weeks before. Sure, things weren’t perfect, but we loved each other. We loved each other a lot. I don’t doubt that for a moment. I know he loved me more than he’d ever loved another person not related to him. I rarely saw him cry, but he cried that day. And still he took both of our hearts and fed them to the shredder.
I say it was unexpected, but I have some crazy intuition sometimes, and I had a feeling something was up that weekend. Just that weekend, as we’d had a great weekend just before then. So when he sat me down and we had That Conversation, I was both stunned and also…not?
He then borrowed my car to take what stuff he had at my place back to his parents. I know. I’m too damn nice. Meanwhile, I had a full-blown breakdown. I thought this guy was going to be the one. I’d never wanted to get married or have kids before I met him, but during our almost two years together, we’d planned it all out. Marriage. A couple of kids with badass names. A dog or two.
All lost in a day. Because when your relationship ends, you don’t just lose that person. You lose the whole future you’d imagined. You lose the kids and the dogs, the nice house with a big garden. You lose that sense of security knowing where your life is going. Or at least, the illusion of security, because even in a relationship, you never know what’s going to happen next.
Looking back, I can see all the warning signs that we weren’t right for each other. He was very defensive, and any time I expressed not liking something he’d done, he labelled it as a problem with me and my mental health. He once told me he wanted a family, but his wife and kids would live outside of London while he had a flat in London for when he worked long hours – something I am definitely not in favour of. (Hey, my dad did that and then ended up having an affair. Can you blame me?) We didn’t like the same kinds of holidays (he liked jam-packed group tours, while I’m more of a let’s find fun places to chill out kind of person).
But back then when it first happened, I couldn’t see all these problems. I was blinded by the agony inside me.
I have a few entries in my journal app from those first few weeks. Those plus my vivid memory allow me to relive one of the darkest times in my life. Even more so than the previous breakup, which was more about my fear of logistically being on my own for the first time ever.
I credit several people for helping me get through those first few days, when I could barely eat and would burst into tears at the drop of a hat. My dad tried his best to comfort me over the phone since my mom was travelling and didn’t have signal most of the time; this mainly meant he told me to go pick up food as a way to both get me out and get me fed. Jamie (Books and Ladders) and Emily (the Gingersnap) spent hours on Skype with me. My team leader was incredibly understanding at work. A couple days after The Cataclysm, my mom also returned from her trip around Norway and kept me going for a couple more weeks before she had to return to South Africa.
But you know what? I can look back on that time, and it doesn’t hurt like it did back then. Sure, I miss him sometimes, but I don’t want him back. And yeah, I get anxious about being single sometimes as well, but not enough to throw myself into the wrong relationship for the wrong reasons. (At least, not anymore.) I survived and even thrived. And if you’re going through a breakup, you will survive and thrive, too.
What I learned while my heart was equal parts torn to shreds and numb as hell was that the first week or so is all about social support. You need other people around you to prop you up until you can learn how to cope and kick ass on your own. If you are going through a breakup and need a person to sit on Skype with you quietly while you cry, reach out to your friends and family. Hell, reach out to me. Because reader, I know what it’s like. It fucking sucks.
Can you remember your last breakup? How did you survive the first few days and weeks? Pop your thoughts in the comments so we can all learn from each other!