The Dreadful & Interesting Aftermath of Breakups

The Dreadful & Interesting Aftermath of Breakups

photo by Heather Rowland
-Breakup Aftermath, I recently broke up with my girlfriend after almost 3 years and it has been one of the most interesting and dreadful experiences to date.-

I recently had someone approach me, come to me, and ask me about breakup aftermath.  I always have something to say about love…and unlove.  I’ve only been in a couple of serious relationships in my life.  Looking back at them, they both seem somewhat backwards.  I see those relationships with so much more clarity now.  I’m not saying I now know how I could have made them work, but I suppose i'm saying I understand why they didn’t. 

So. You wanna hear about breakup aftermath, huh?

Well, friend, let me first say that I too have had a breakup with someone I was with for almost three years.  We lived together.  We grew very close over a long period of time.  Similarly, our relationship died a slow and painful death. In my second relationship which was the last relationship I was in, it was explosive.  We became very close and intimate in a very short amount of time. Sadly, it died out as soon as it was lit up. It was just as painful, if not more so than the termination of my serious and long-term relationship.

Though I consider myself to be a writer, a warrior with words, your description of your break up using the words, “Interesting” and “Dreadful” are two great words that precisely make up a lot of the emotions I felt during both break ups.

Before writing this, I looked up the definition of “After-math.”  

If you google that word, you get 

1 - The consequences or aftereffects of a significant unpleasant event.

2 - (farming) New grass growing after mowing or harvest. 

Now if we take that first definition, the after effects of breaking up are interesting and dreadful as you have already mentioned.  I think back now, and it hurts so good. I remember broken down subways and four-degree temperatures keeping me company in a dreadful kind of a way.  I forced myself into crowds, but I felt more lonely than I ever had with the exception of maybe one or two previous experiences.  I was lucky in many ways, but all I felt was out of luck.  I soaked up the world, trying to fill my body with everything but my own feelings.  I did the one thing I knew that would somehow keep me going, I stayed busy.  Picked up long shifts, experimented with new dishes, socialized more than I ever had, went on strange adventures, and said "yes" to many more things than I would have normally...

And it was interesting because though I always felt so alone, so lost, so bewildered…I kept going.  I survived.  It took a great effort to DO things, and I don’t just mean working a double shift or working out at the gym.  Even just getting up in the morning, you know, making my bed, or brushing my teeth was a challenge in itself.  And the harder it got to do things, the less I felt like doing things, the more I pushed myself to do things because I believed that if I did do more things, something good, nay (I wasn't that optimistic), maybe something that was “not bad” would happen to me.  I did all kinds of different things like ashtanga yoga, kick boxing, and tequila.  

Most of the time I still felt nothing.  The rest of the time, when I let myself sit or lay still for too long, I just felt the absence of who I thought was the love of my life. I felt him not being there with me, and it didn't feel good.

...But I kept going.  And that interested me.  I was intrigued at this part of me that I had never known until I reached rock bottom, this part of me with this will to move forward though moving in any direction hurt so much.  From waking up to going for a run, why did I somehow choose time and time again to keep going when I felt so hopeless, unfixable, and unwanted?  Though my movements were robotic, how did I find the strength to move?  Though mornings were gray, how did I wake up and still day dream with the clouds? Though no face but his interested me, why did I talk to every stranger that would take to conversation?  I didn't understand it, and most things I don't understand are very interesting to me.

And it was all dreadful and interesting when I would lie in my bed at night and think about being so tired and just maybe going to sleep and never waking up again...but it was all equally as dreadful and interesting thinking about being so tired, going to sleep, and waking up to another day and having to try to do more things again.  I didn’t know if I wanted to wake up the next morning or not sometimes.  It was nothing quite suicidal though, I just didn’t care one way or another.  So I fell asleep and decided that if the sun peeked through my window, I would get up and try again.  If the morning still went out of its way to visit me, I would welcome it like a proper host.

Dreadful. Interesting. Dreadful. Interesting.

Artwork by Nikki Frampton

Artwork by Nikki Frampton

Let’s look at that second definition.  The (farming) definition.  For me right now, I believe that new grass is growing for me.  Two months ago, I was single for about a year and a half - a long time for someone who lived with their significant other, a long time for someone who thought she knew who the man she would marry was.  It was a long and painful eighteen months, truly.  However, it wasn’t JUST long and painful.  It was a lot of things for me.

And a lot of those things came from me pushing forward. Alone.  That strange will to wake up in the morning was also the voice that said yes to kick boxing, coffee brewing, rock climbing, Utah living, and chopping all of my hair off.  That strange will kept telling me, "something good is coming, something good is coming, keep going, something good is coming." And it wouldn't shut the hell up.

And suddenly I look at the last year and half, and I realize so many good things came to me.  There is no "just around the corner," because it's all here now in front of me happening! I live in a beautiful city.  I’ve visited some beautiful countries. I’ve learned a new skill/trade and been introduced to the hospitality and beverage industry in such an in-depths way that I’m discovering worlds I never knew existed.  I’ve been up sixty feet on an indoor climbing wall, shaking and nearly shitting my pants just before taking a twenty foot fall…and somehow find myself coming back, climbing higher and wanting more.  I got drunk with friends while simultaneously winning first place at Board Game Night at a Pub. I participated in political rallies and registered to vote for the first time. I volunteered for marathons and Ironmans, and also taught tennis classes for a after school program for underprivileged kids. I took a month and learned about farming and sustainable living. I was diagnosed with a disease, asked to model for a photoshoot, and had an emotional talk with a sister about bullying and the struggles of just trying to be yourself and somehow stay standing when you have someone tell you to go kill yourself.

And… about two months ago, I met somebody that’s pretty great.  And he’s honest and kind and caring.  And he’s got these sparkly blue eyes that have this super power where he sees the beauty in everything, including me.  He sees my thinning hair, my sun spots, my sleepy eyes once I hit 9 o’clock PM.  He sees my soft bronze skin, my almond eyes, the way I tilt my head, overcompensating for my attempt at a flirtatious wink. And it’s all beautiful to him because of those magical blue-pattered eyes of his.

2- New grass growing after mowing or harvest. 

Now… I’m not saying things are perfect and this is my happy ending.  There’s definitely some challenges even in this “harvest time” for me - especially in romance.  Jacob sometimes leans over and whispers to me about how pretty I am.  In my head, I have this grand reply.  I want to tell him how much I love the way he looks at me with those brambly blue eyes of his.  I want to tell him about how happy the freckles on his nose make me, and how much I love biting his cherry lips.  I want to tell him how much I love the feeling of his snow white hands reaching out for mine and the warmth of his body when he wraps his arms around me for one of his famous bear hugs.  I want to tell him how the way he smells excites me, and that when I still smell his fragrance about me once he’s left it makes me miss him terribly even when I know I might be seeing him the next day. I want to tell him that he makes me the prettiest.

Instead, I turn pink, gulp, and say in a voice just louder than silence, “Thank you.”  Sometimes when I feel brave, I kiss his hand.  Sometimes that makes him laugh and he’ll say out loud, “I like you.”  And I just get stuck and stare and think, I can’t believe that your heart feels something special for me.  But all I do is smile.  Maybe I reach out and squeeze his shoulder if I dare.  

For now, all I can hope is that I'm wearing my heart on my sleeve like i'm known to usually do.  I hope my emotions are there for him to see in bold, neon letters... At least until I manage to get those feelings translated into words myself.

I thought I’d get better at loving the more relationships that I survived.  At expressing my feelings and opening the lines of communication like every good girlfriend is supposed to.  You know, level 100 in relationships type deal. I thought that I was totally ready for a hand to hold my own, but instead I still flinch when his hand moves towards mine. I’ve become somewhat more hesitant.  It’s not that I feel less, that my heart is smaller, or that I’m calloused.  No. 

I know i’m ready to fall in love, but I also know I’ll never really be ready to fall. And ready or not, both have happened and may happen again.

And that’s the break up: the falling.  The aftermath is learning that when you fall, eventually something inside of you will make you get up again (despite your emotional protests!) just to risk doing it all over again.  You’ll explore the dreadful and interesting, but you’ll learn to push through until falling becomes falling in love again.

Maybe one day, we’ll all get lucky, and we’ll fall in love and stay in love and that strange will inside of us that's always telling us it will get better can retire because we won't need better because we'll have that good stuff called love.

Fire Extinguisher

Fire Extinguisher

The Three Pines Family

The Three Pines Family