About a month ago, the relationship I had been in for the past 2+ years ended. Amicably. Somewhat mutually. (He broke up with me, but it was for reasons I had been thinking about as well.) But it was still not without a great deal of pain. And grief. And tears.
Right after the break-up, I was in a daze. I knew what had happened, but I still could not wrap my head around the conversation I had just finished. I was sure he would call me back, say “just kidding”, and things would be the same again. I would be very upset with him for pulling such a cruel prank, but I would forgive him and everything would be okay. Even as I dropped my groceries on the kitchen floor and told my roommate what had just happened, I could not seem to process the reality of the situation.
She hugged me and I heard her cry a little bit; I honestly thought to myself, “Tears. Yeah. You’re supposed to cry when your heart is breaking. I should probably be crying. Okay then…why don’t I feel like crying?”
Shortly thereafter, I did feel like crying. And then I could not stop. It was as if the floodgates had opened and nothing short of an act of God could close them. The reality of what had happened was finally setting in. Our relationship had ended. The man I had imagined spending the rest of my life with was no longer in my life. I had just been broken up with by my very best friend. The plans we had, the trips we would take, the colors we would have at our wedding (did I forget to mention that we had started planning a wedding some time before?); all of it was over. Completely, irrevocably over. Even though I knew it was for the best, I could not imagine my life going on without him by my side.
I took the next day off of work, vacillating between tears, confusion, anger, and phone calls. I called my closest friends to let them know what had happened. I called my friend who I was to move in with in a few months to let her know that the boy I was moving to be closer to had just broken my heart, and, needless to say, I was no longer moving.
Work the next day was a blessed distraction. I didn’t much feel like talking to people, but a couple of my work friends came to my desk to see how I was doing. Their caring helped me make it through the rest of the workweek until it was time for me to head home that weekend, because you are never too old to need your family when you are struggling. Something about being in the home I grew up in helped to calm the sudden panic and heartache I had been experiencing during that first week.
At the encouragement of my roommate, I also began journaling as a means to process through this experience. I think that was probably one of the best pieces of advice I received. Externalizing and analyzing my thoughts and feelings has taught me so much over this last month.
I have learned a lot about grief. It is not a pretty thing. Denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance to not arrive on your doorstep each in their own tidy little package. Rather, they pepper your entire life, ready to rear their ugly heads in absolutely no sensible order at the slightest provocation. There is no easy “12-Step’ program to overcoming it. Instead, you must simply take life as it comes to you, one day at a time.
I have learned a great deal about myself, what I want in a relationship, and what I don’t want. There was so much that was absolutely beautiful and right about the love we had, but there was also so much that was not. I am now able to look back on our 2+ years together and see more clearly the signs that it should not and would not be a forever love. There was nothing wrong with him. There was nothing wrong with me. But there was something wrong with us. (I want to be sure that no one gets the wrong idea from any of this. Yes, I was hurt. Yes, I am angry at him sometimes. But he is not a bad person. Please be clear on that.)
Finally, I have learned so much about the importance of friends, family, and faith when it comes to getting through difficult times. I could not have made it this far without the amazing support system that has surrounded me during this last month. Phone calls, emails, and text messages just to say “I’m thinking about you,” “I’m praying for you,” and “I love you” have meant the world to me.
I could not have survived this had it not been for my family. I have spent more time on the phone with my mom, dad, and brother in the last month than I think I had in the last several months. They have been willing to just sit and listen as I pour out my feelings completely uncensored. They have been on the receiving end of my very misdirected anger. And they have stood by me through all of it.
My friends and family have been there to provide a shoulder to cry on, an ear to listen to all of my ups and downs, and they have brought joy back into my life. They have shared with me their experiences with grief, consoled me and reminded me that it will get better, and given me tools to deal with my own grief.
And I absolutely could never have gotten through this without God. As cheesy as it may sound, He has been my strength during this time of great weakness. I really don’t know how to explain it without using a ton of platitudes and sounding even more cheesy, so I’ll just leave it at this: In Him, I am learning what it means to really trust. I am learning what it means to be vulnerable. I am learning what it means to be held.
God is good. Thanks for listening.