About a month ago, I found the courage to share with the whole blog-o-sphere that I made the decision to break up with my boyfriend of 4.5 years. At first, I didn’t think I was going to share it at all because there’s so many factors to consider; however, I am really glad I did. Not only did it help me to sort through my feelings and it was an easier way for me to share the breakup with my family and friends without going public via Facebook (FB is considerate now and doesn’t post changes in relationship status on everyone’s news feed anymore. Thank goodness.), but it also opened up a whole new avenue with old friends and even strangers. I was greeted with so much amazing feedback and support and I even made new friends and rekindled older friendships with people who had gone through or were going through the same thing. And isn’t that the whole purpose of a blog anyway? It totally reaffirmed for me how amazing this blogging community can be and how the heart of being human is to connect with others.
I thought it would be wise to share a kind of update now that it has been a full month. The journey has not been an easy one. When I wrote the announcement post, it had been three days since we officially ended things, so the shock was just starting to hit me.
I’ve been finding myself going through the “stages” of a breakup recovery, much like the stages of grief in a way. At the time of the first post, I was starting the cycle of questioning. I feel like this time is the most crucial because in so many ways, I harbored feelings of wanting to turn around, beg for forgiveness, and pretend like nothing ever happened. That would have been the easy way out. Because the alternative was painful, my friends. I knew the onslaught of memories would come, but nothing can quite prepare you for its sting. Everything I had ever imagined and planned for my future was now gone. Poof. Completely evaporated. Everything I was used to for almost five years was now gone. And you start questioning if anyone is going to be able to fill that void in your heart ever again. And you start to worry. It’s a lot to take in at one time. And you never know when it’s going to hit you. For me, it was particularly potent when I saw pictures or his possessions or when I thought about my future.
I studied choice theory in my grad class this summer and it’s all about the idea that behavior is all purposeful; this means that we choose our actions and, therefore, indirectly choose our thoughts and feelings. Often times, people choose misery to meet one of their basic needs; in reality, they have the same ability to choose happiness but instead place blame on outside factors. (Ex: “He made me feel so upset! I wouldn’t feel this frustrated if she had just told the truth!”) This concept could not have come at a better time. Throughout this recovery process, I have tried to be more intentional about how I choose to feel. I kept myself busy, surrounding myself with friends and family and making a lot of changes in my life, like downsizing. It has made the world of a difference.
But I can admit that I didn’t always choose happiness during this past month. There was, and sometimes still is, a time when I choose to be angry. I was so angry that things had to happen the way that they did. I felt like I (and our relationship) had been sacrificed for things to be learned. I felt angry that I had seen signs for years and didn’t have the courage or insight to do anything about it except push through. I felt angry about a lot of things.
But I am also happy, you guys. I can honestly say that because of the things going on around me and the way God is revealing His beautiful plan, I am in a place to choose happiness genuinely and authentically. I am confident in my decision for many reasons, even though I still have questions, what-ifs, and worries. One of the ways I have been able to feel so secure is by measuring the growth I have achieved. The girl I knew six months ago would not have been capable of putting herself first and choosing the right path instead of the easy one; I can sense a strength and confidence in myself that was not always there before. The way I react to pictures, letters, memories, people, and places is different. If you’re going through a difficult time, try to focus on how far you’ve come. You might surprise yourself.
I have a very dear friend who is going through a similar situation and we have been supporting and encouraging one another. Even during those moments of worry and fear, we always try to end the conversation with the acknowledgment of what we have learned. We ask each other:
- How has this relationship/break-up taught you what you need and don’t need?
- What has this break up taught you about yourself? About your emotions? About how you handle conflict?
- How has this break-up helped you? Helped your ex?
- What are you looking for in a partner?
- What can you contribute to a relationship?
All of these questions have sprouted really healthy discussions and thoughts that make it a little easier to process everything. What questions do you ask yourself/your friends during difficult times? What is your best break-up remedy?
Oh, and just another point that I’d be really curious to hear your input on: How do you take care of the sentimental stuff? Toss it all? Keep it tucked away? How do you decide what stays and what goes? I have my own ideas, but I’d love to hear yours!