One Year Later
Exactly one year ago from today, 9/30, my life completely changed. As I'm writing this, on the last night of the month, right now at this exact time I can remember crying on a blow up mattress at my friend's place, in her spare room. I tried to silence my cries and let her and her (then) boyfriend (now husband) sleep — but when you a feel a pain that deep, there's no stopping it.
I had been in a relationship with someone for 9 years — technically 8 — but it was someone I envisioned spending the rest of my life with. So when it happened, when those words burned right through my core and momentarily took all of the air from my lungs, I felt like I could explode into a million pieces...for a second, I genuinely thought I did.
On this night everything changed, and that included me. How do you react to someone telling you that they love you, you're not the problem but they need to experience things outside of you and navigate life by themselves, uncommitted? If you're anything like me, well, you don't. You don't react at all because you're too busy digesting every single word. Then you do, and when you do, it's chaos.
Being broken up with is shitty, let me tell you.
We had met in high school and fell into a relationship far more serious than either of us could have anticipated. We fell in love — true, fulfilling, enlightening and complete love. We rode the high school wave together, leaped into the university life together, and catapulted ourselves right into real life together. You start at the beginning of the race as a youthful, hopeful 16 year old and one day you somehow wake up, 24 years old, completely lifeless with a thousand questions. Don't worry, one day you'll also wake up, now 25 years old, with a healed heart.
To say that the entire relationship was easy, all the time, would be me lying to you, but for what it was worth, it was an adventure. Constantly learning, growing, and experiencing life — that's what we did. We turned into those people who could have a whole conversation without saying a word because we were that connected. We had fun. We got each other.
At the beginning of the end, you feel it all. I begged and pleaded with every ounce of my being, but let me tell you something, when someone is over it — they're over it. This was the beginning of me mourning the death of my relationship and IT FUCKING SUCKED.
That night I felt lifeless — as if my body had been torn, limb by limb. You might be thinking, "cut the melodrama," but I'm being completely honest here. I had never felt a pain like that, a pain that emotionally ate away at me but physically made me feel like I was falling apart. I called off of work the next morning, took a cab back to the apartment and cried all day. Never in my life have I cried that long. I tried to force myself to sleep, and for fifteen minutes of unconscious bliss, I woke up to the sound of myself...crying. I wanted to unzip myself out of my body and float away.
Depression kicked in and it was there for a solid 8 months. When I tell you I cried every night for months on end, it sounds pathetic but it was real life and it happened to me. I was a zombie. Looking back on it, we should have moved out into separate apartments within the month of the breakup, because when you live in a broken household for months, it cripples your healing. Fuck the lease. These are the little things I've learned as I look back.
In the beginning, I did nothing. Yeah, I'd go to work and give it my all but that's the only thing I put effort into. Wake up, go to work, go home and sleep. I refused to talk to anyone or go anywhere. My closest friends checked up on me just to make sure I was okay, but they knew me well enough to give me my space. My family didn't even know for a while — I just wanted to disappear for a bit. It was just me and my two cats. I do think my cats saved me a little, though. Mila and Dexter — thank you, I love you.
I slept so much, ate so much (sometimes didn't eat at all) and became lonely with my raging thoughts. I lost my appetite for life —everything that once had color had gone gray. It was a rollercoaster of emotions, and I couldn't get off the damn ride. Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year's Day came and went. Navigating in a shared apartment around these holidays was something I'd rather forget.
I sulked... and sulked... and sulked some more.
However, we had a trip to San Francisco booked for mid-February and it forced us to have a proper sit-down about what we would do. After hours of talking, we decided to make it the last trip we'd ever take together. When we said that out loud, I felt my body go numb so I went to the bathroom and cried some more. What the fuck were we doing?
The trip was great, actually. There was something about getting out of the seemingly toxic Chicago air and dumping my shitty problem in a new city that felt refreshing. We talked, a lot. So when we got back, it almost felt like we fell back into our old routine. This right here is why my technically 8 year relationship is coined as a "9 year" one, because after a while we operated as if things were the same.
Moving out felt like the breakup, round 2. While this was happening, I was scrambling to find an apartment, oh...and I quit my old job and was going to start my new one. Word to the wise: take a mental health day or two when transitioning jobs. I didn't and I should have.
As someone who is severely anxious, this was the most terrifying time of my life.
Everything I had known, was leaving. However, I took it all on and am still here, right now, kicking ass.
We can fast forward without all the gritty details, because the end of it all came blazing down. It was anything but smooth. When push comes to shove, you have to come to terms with the fact that they let go and have moved on. Respect that this is what they want and find it in your heart to hope that they're happy. It took me a while, but I do hope she's happy.
Understand that you are a memory of times had, and that's it. Don't fight it, as much as you want to — don't.
But guess what? One day you wake up and you're not hurting anymore. You finally start to see colors again and feel the blood in your veins. One day you stop feeling bad for yourself and you take a shower and crack a smile when you put on your favorite song. One day you indulge in a meal all by yourself without feeling resentment. One day you go out dancing with your friends and laugh so hard, get so drunk and fall to the floor because you have terrible balance. One day you brush the hair out of your face because it's so windy and someone compliments your eyes, and you take the compliment. One day you call up your mom to tell her you love her and that you're going to see her soon. One day you enjoy the sunset while you sit on your stoop listening to your "Life's Changing Vibes" Spotify playlist. One day you decide to say "yes" to making plans that you've put off for over half a year. One day you stop feeling all of the pain. One day you kiss someone new. One day you sleep in with the sun hitting your face and instead of pulling the covers over your head, you open the window and look outside. One day you finally stop crying. One day you finally feel like you can breathe. And that one day becomes two days, which turns into three and all of a sudden a week has flown by where you felt like everything was going to be okay. I had every single one of these days. I loved every single one of these days.
I had so much fear that I would never be able to love like that again, or be loved like that again. I've since turned that sentiment around, and am thankful that I was able to experience that — some people never do. The past year has tested me in ways I couldn't have imagined or been prepared for but I have learned so much and grown in ways I didn't think I could. I have pushed myself into being the best person I can be. I have pushed myself to love myself, during the ugliest and most beautiful of times.
Being alone has forced me to face my demons and make peace with all of the weight I've carried. I've become more open and so much kinder. I've lifted the veil of limits I had placed on myself. I let go of that fear, because
I finally let go.
The last 4-5 months have shown me that anything is possible. My heart is so fucking huge, and open for whatever life throws my way. Throughout my process, I've met so many amazing new people and have made some memories I'll never forget. My support system has taught me so much about true compassion and appreciation for people (and life, really). The energy I'm surrounded by is truly electric. Though I may not be perfect, I feel light radiating inside of me. The process wasn't easy, by any means, but it was so worth it. To be thrown upside down without warning, I think I've turned out okay. So if you can relate: happiness, after true and utter sadness, is possible.