You guys know this story well enough from me: breaking up sucks. I never much thought about how much it would hurt while I was in my relationship with X, but now I know. It is even worse when you’re still in love with the person and you realize you need to break up. It’s not always because you’re not in love anymore, you know?
A dear friend of mine is on the verge of sparking her relationship again with her ex (for the ninetieth time), and though many can see how perfectly wrong he is for her, I also understand where her mind is right now. I’ve been there. I considered getting back with X, remember back to some of my May posts? For some reason though I saw the errors of my thinking before I acted, thought better of why we broke up to begin with, and decided to look towards my future as a strong individual rather than depend on someone else for my happiness. I moved on. Now I am the most independent I have ever been, I love my life entirely, and I am surrounded by fantastic people who tell me my worth daily. It amazes me to look back and reminisce on the love I’ve lost and the loves I’ve gained…
It started with me dating the “perfect” guy. He was kind, sweet, funny, and charming — essentially everything I could have wanted in a guy. Let’s not forget to mention he was my best friend and my most loyal confidant going on four years. We meshed so well.
The first couple of years we were constantly laughing, cuddling, watching fast car movies, and making Pinterest dinners together. We had a total blast. His imperfections were endearing to me and I was completely and utterly in love.
I spent a lot of my free time from schoolwork planning our future together, both in my head and out in the open. I mused at wedding plans and where we might live post-graduation. I thought about the future more than I lived in the present. I played the love-smitten girl well.
It wasn’t until we became engaged that I began to see our relationship in an entirely different light. Have you heard that expression that women marry a man thinking he will change and men marry a woman hoping she won’t? In retrospect, I think this is where my mind was. I found myself trying harder and harder to connect with X on our differing views. I started to become weary. I started to become cynical. I kept thinking that it was just a hiccup in our relationship due to “wedding stress.”
Until one day, it hit me: this was not just a hiccup. X and I were different. Too different. We wanted different things in life, we held different expectations of how life should be. As this revelation overcame me, I knew in my heart that we had always been different. The faults in him I once found endearing now ate at me. The way he allowed his mother to treat me, his constant pressure to move the wedding date later, his decision of no longer wanting children, his lack of interest in applying himself at school or work, his obsession with pornography… these had created a distance between us, a chasm that was widening at an alarmingly rapid rate.
In the same way, I could tell I was getting on his nerves as well. The job I took following graduation did not meet his standards of pay, I was becoming more extroverted as I aged, I wanted to step up our faith values, and I openly criticized his mother — I mean, for good reason but I do realize now that I was putting down his mom, the main women in his life since he was born. It didn’t seem I was a good match for X.
I was exhausted from attempting to reach over this gap in our relationship with no bridge to help. I tried to toss him a rope, but there was no one on the other side of the chasm to catch it. I was no longer growing in this relationship, and neither was he.
Then one day I thought, I don’t want to be in this relationship anymore.
That thought made my heart sick. Here I was with a beautiful ring on my finger telling the whole world how happily in love I am and strutting around with more wedding Pins than should be allowed on a profile, but I knew I couldn’t move forward.
It wasn’t fair to either of us.
But I was so torn.
X was still, with all his faults, my best friend of over eight years. I cared deeply about him. I loved him. I bounced around a lot of feelings and thoughts: Maybe we can get through this. Maybe he will change. I can’t live without him in my life. This is because the hardest part of breaking up with someone you love is convincing yourself that you need to do it in the first place. I knew in my heart this decision was for the best, but I couldn’t face the looming levels of pain I expected to consumer me if went ahead and called off the relationship.
To this day, our break up is not one of which I am proud. I wish I could have handled it a million different ways. With months worth of bottled anger at my expectations not being met, though, it’s no wonder I handled things the way I did. (Word of advice: communicate. Always. Don’t save your words for an end-all fight.)
In the aftermath, I felt like a criminal for my behavior. Not only did I feel shame, but I lost a piece of myself in that break up. I lost my closest companion, my Good Morning and Good Night texts, all my crazy inside jokes. I lost four years of my life and what I thought was my entire future. I was intensely lonely and distraught. A song on the radio, his favorite drink being ordered by your bar neighbor, or a simple note hidden away in a book suddenly brought back all those memories of the good times.
I felt crippling doubt as well. For months following I would have the urge to text X about my day, to share a happy moment or ask for advice on a tough subject. It was like reliving the break up over and over again. There were weeks I couldn’t eat, months I couldn’t sleep.
And then… I realized that the way I felt was totally normal. Sometimes the right decision is the most difficult. Neither side was willing to compromise our ideals for the future meaning we truly were not meant to be. The reality versus our expectations was crushingly plain. I couldn’t fix my feelings, but I had already fixed what I could by ending my broken relationship. I know now that it was the best decision for myself, and I can move forward knowing I had a wonderful first love which opened my eyes to relationships in my future. I now know what I want and what I deserve.
And I have to hope X will be as happy and understanding of what our time together meant someday as well.
Breaking up with someone you love is terrible, and it’s scary. It is necessary, however, to be able to move into a happier stage of your life. I want everyone, especially my friend, to know this: it is easy to think you’re the only one going through a rough break up when you’re heartbroken, but you are not alone! So let your heart mourn, but have faith that better things are right around the corner.