Have you ever heard that it takes half the duration of a relationship to get over the breakup?
If you were given this advice while weeping on your couch after getting your heart served to you on a silver platter, you’ll first feel relieved. Then, you’ll probably wonder where this arbitrary calculation comes from.
Cut to me, in the fall of 2017. I was going through a tough breakup, wondering why I had to wait so long to get over the heartache.
We met at a Flamenco bar. He checked all of my boxes.
Cute in an underdog-ish way, smart in an unpretentious way. Worked in the music industry, read Joan Didion, and never cleaned his sheets, because, I suppose, he was too busy working in the music industry and reading Joan Didion.
The only box he didn’t check was the one labeled “wanting to be with me.”
We broke up twice, the second time for good.
I was working a pretty dead-end job and had a lot of time to write very shitty, sad poetry. The only light at the end of my unshowered, sweatpants tunnel was a date on my calendar. Our brief affair had only lasted three months, and thus, I would be absolutely one hundred percent recovered by mid-February. Valentine’s Day of all days! I couldn’t wait.
Well, I’m here to tell you that Valentine’s Day came and went and my internal sadalogue didn’t shift a centimeter. On the contrary, I started feeling worse. Not only was I heartbroken, I was berating myself for feeling hurt. Every time I’d think of Mr. Music Industry I’d start scolding my id like a broken record.
“Why don’t you get over it? You only dated him for three months! Well. Two months and three and a half weeks.” Why was I feeling this way? What was WRONG with me!?
[bctt tweet=”Not only was I heartbroken, I was berating myself for feeling hurt.” username=”wearethetempest”]
Turns out, what’s wrong with me, is apparently wrong with everyone else.
With burning curiosity, I polled my friends about the ex-lovers that still occupy their minds. There’s the girl he never even kissed, whom he still felt the urge to text six months later. There’s the boy she only slept with for around three months, whom, one year later, she couldn’t help but invite to her birthday party hoping he’d show up. There’s the ex from years ago who still haunts his dreams. And there’s the surprise encounter, witnessed most unfortunately by many, in which a martini hit the face of the boy who broke her heart six years prior, while still in high school.
You don’t get to choose how or when or who will hurt you. You only get to choose the way you react to that hurt. Pain is inevitable, but suffering? Suffering, especially the kind that involves lashing out at yourself for not ‘getting over it’ fast enough, is optional.
The good news is I’m here from the other side to tell all you sad people, there’s no appropriate length of time to grieve the loss of someone you saw a future with. Your inability to get over someone quickly is not an indication of your worth as a human being.
Nowadays, I no longer think about the boy from the fall. I no longer worry about bumping into him at a bar, or whether or not he’s watched my Instagram story. In all honesty, this is mostly because I’m in a new relationship with someone who checks the box of ‘wanting to be with me’.
Sometimes dating someone new is what it takes. Sometimes staying single is what it takes.
Sometimes going on a hike or accepting death or just time in all its forever-ness is what it takes. Not deadlines-calendar-dates-marked-in-red-ink time, but life. The thing that goes on and on and on. And sometimes it takes nothing at all. Breakups are like cuts to the skin: some run deep and some run shallow.
And although all heal eventually, the pain of each bruise leaves a scar in your mind, guiding your way to feeling less of it over time.
How’s that for some bad poetry? Every shit cloud has a silver lining. Be kind to yourself, people!