Breakups stink. Regardless if you are the dumper or the dumpee, there is a lot of thought and confusion that goes into a breakup. I recently broke up with someone and found myself in a state of turmoil and sadness. This did not make sense to me. I did the breaking up, not the other way around. Wasn’t the dumper supposed to be happy and free from this person that they no longer wanted to be with? As time passed, I continued to feel disoriented. I didn’t know what I was supposed to feel and was unable to get objective advice from friends and family.
It seemed to me that society was so focused on worshipping love that it failed to acknowledge that not all endings are happy. When I am frustrated or upset, I often resort to listening to music, but I found that, in the midst of a breakup, music wasn’t at all comforting. All of my favorite music is about love. Love is great, and certainly worth writing music about, but, in my current situation—how disappointing. I felt like I was in a canyon, trying to dig my way out, and the thing that usually got me to a better place was failing me. Not only was happy music painful, sad music didn’t help either. Sad music just made me more upset, and happy music just reminded me of what I didn’t have. TV is all about love; music is all about love; books are all about love—and I felt like I couldn’t escape this curse of heartache.
Naturally, I turned to friends and family to find solace. I was looking for instructions: how to feel better, how to be happy. My mom said to give myself time, let myself wallow in the sadness that I felt was engulfing me. My dad told me it was silly to be sad, for I had gotten out of something that I didn’t truly want. He thought I should be celebrating; now I was available for something better, for something more satisfying and Christ-honoring. My friends were sweet and understanding . . . for about two days. They expected that, because I had ended things, I would be able to bounce right back into my normal routine. While it was helpful to be with friends who lifted my spirits, I also found it hard to be around them. I didn’t want to feel like I had to fake my emotions, and, around them, I did. I wanted to be alone in my heartache, I wanted to let myself experience the full weight of my emotions, and I couldn’t do that with large groups of people. There were a few things that did make me feel better: being with one or two people and doing things that I loved. My best friend took me to get coffee, played my favorite music on the drive, and affirmed me the whole way there. It was a small, simple act, but so meaningful and intentional.
One thing that struck me post-break-up was my doubt. I had so many questions about whether or not I had made the correct decision in breaking up with my significant other. It felt like I had made a mistake, that this wasn’t actually what I wanted. I was sad and confused, and the person whom I wanted to talk to most, I had broken up with. My counselor helped me process what I was feeling: the guilt, the sadness, the doubt. She was incredibly encouraging, reassuring me that what I was feeling was normal. Because I had never broken up with anyone before, I didn’t know what I was supposed to feel or how long I was supposed to feel it. I also found that I could only remember the good things about our relationship; I couldn’t remember the legitimate reasons that had caused the breakup in the first place. I too easily morphed what I had wanted our relationship to be into what it had actually been. In order to remember why I didn’t want to be in that relationship, I had to make a list of all the reasons—legitimate and important ones—we had broken up. This was hard to do, but incredibly helpful in the long run.
For those of you who have been in a breakup, I want to affirm you in your sadness. In fact, I would be concerned if you weren’t sad or upset over the end of a relationship. It’s good to be sad—it means that you care! Sadness and mourning mean that there was something in that relationship that was valuable and worth emotional energy. Breakups are difficult and upsetting, but they will ultimately prepare you for the rest of life. Dating is all about figuring out what you need and want in a life partner. This doesn’t make breakups any less challenging, but it does give us hope for the future. While it may feel bad now, know that it will get better, and you will heal and grow through the process.
The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author. They do not claim to reflect the opinions or views of the Defendant or its staff members.