What Else Happens in a Breakup


Shared by Nina Rubin

I received a ton of feedback about my last post and now realize that so many of us have unspoken, unfinished, or incomplete feelings about our current and previous relationships.

So what happens in the midst of and after a breakup?  Well, as discussed, someone finally decides that it’s not working anymore and that he or she can’t stay. It’s one of the hardest concepts to grasp as the receiver of this news, and similarly for the bearer of the decision. In my case, I really felt like my hand was forced after such irreparable damage occurred. I had stopped respecting myself, could not look at myself for staying with someone who continually exhibited behaviors that were not part of our relationship pact. I was hiding from friends and family, which felt shameful and so sad to me. My doubt and insecurity was at an all-time high, and it presented itself somatically with nagging stomach aches and a giant knot in my shoulder.  I really had so much love for my ex, but his love for me was incongruent. (Note: Maybe this is my read on the situation. Perhaps he simply didn’t want the relationship we had and didn’t humanely remove himself from it. I could go through the process of conjecture and analysis paralysis for the umpteenth time, but really, does it matter? All that matters is that it ended, since this is a blog post about breakups, not one about speculation and psychoanalysis of a person in a certain set of circumstances.) I digress: maybe my ex seemed to need attention, or had a difficult childhood, or any number of reasons…but the truth is, it wasn’t working. He didn’t want to “keep lying and hurt me” and I didn’t want to be hurt. The question everyone asks is “why didn’t he behave differently?” Who knows? That’s clearly easier said than done. I know now that I can’t date someone for his potential and talk about “when we have more money or better jobs.”  As I’ve said before, there is no “there.” We only have “here” and we have to stand firmly, with eyes wide open, to the present moment and the presence of the person we’re dating.  I’ve accepted that I need my love to be reciprocated now, and with kindness and compassion. The other question I get all the time is “why didn’t you leave sooner?” Another great question… and my answer is because I thought I was in love, could help him, wanted to stick it out. Well, no. None of that worked. What really works best is to take care of myself first and foremost.

So when most of us breakup, it means we can’t cuddle or have sex together anymore. It means we have to wean ourselves from the comfort of talking and making jokes regularly (daily!). We can’t send emojis and songs that remind us of our exes. No more family gatherings. A pet custody schedule might need to be sorted out. Sometimes radio silence is the only option for a while. How long? I don’t know… but long enough to regain a sense of self and to start remembering who you are and who you were before the relationship turned sour. (PS I’ve been guilty of all of this, just as I know most of you have. No judgment from this peanut gallery.)

We choose to breakup when we feel like we’re taken down and we can’t stay down anymore. Everyone gets dragged down every so often by the virtue of living, but we pick ourselves up in whatever ways we know works — social (spending time with trusted friends), spiritual (praying, meditation), physical (exercise, yoga), etc. Here’s the kicker: we need to know that we need to pick ourselves up!  We must identify what we need. The key is knowing when you’re down and then realizing it is some place you don’t want to stay. This is an opportunity to reflect, and it often shows you a bleak, inaccurate picture, but at the end of the process, a person often comes out stronger because she has a game plan and the determination to execute it.

It made the most logical sense to breakup when I finally knew that waking up alone was much better than waking up with someone who didn’t seem present. I felt better when I realized I would not put myself through self-imposed anxiety on a regular basis and would not be disappointed by his labile mood or emotional meltdowns. I also argued with myself from my head’s perspective and my heart’s perspective. Eventually they were both aligned — when neither felt stable. That’s when I knew. I also know that anything great will come back, or doesn’t end in the first place. I had to wrestle with this for a long time, and have finally reconciled the answers in my soul.

The word “victim” swirls around a lot, too. I’m not one. I had a role in this relationship and let him back in my life. But I’m not a victim, let’s be clear. I’ve returned to my power and feel adamantly that I wanted something different. I operated under the assumption that things “would be different” and they were for spells of time. I could not keep up with the roller coaster, so finally had get off. Or maybe he feels like he had to end it. Doesn’t matter. By the end, it wasn’t working. Really, if I look at a timeline of the relationship, it wasn’t working from the middle, which should have been the end. But when you try to have workarounds and negotiate with yourself, the end is relative.

I was attached to a warm, fuzzy outcome that didn’t exist.  I don’t want you to be in this spot. I want to help you reclaim your self-worth, your value, your love for yourself, separate from this relationship. If you need to pray or speak to a higher power or go to a yoga class or go clubbing or hike or swim or cook, do that. Do something that gives you clarity so you can see yourself more accurately than the relationship that might be bringing you down. Allow your prayers to be answered by listening to the universe. When the “signs” are there, see them! I didn’t always do this, and shielded myself from the truth for too long.

I now realize that some things are good to us and other things are good for us. Our love relationships need to be both. It’s not like eating a sleeve of Oreos — that instant gratification situation that feels good in the moment (good to us).  It’s more like medicine: taking that disgusting cough syrup that is actually helpful even if it tastes horrendous (good for us).

If you’re considering staying in or leaving your relationship, ask yourself:

Is s/he good to me? Is s/he good for me?  Or am I only good to and for him/her?

Does s/he give me what I need from the relationship?

Can I trust him/her?

Can there be a future with him/her?

Does s/he value this relationship with me? Does s/he express that value through actions that match the words?

Do we share the same values and visions?

This general article entitled “Why You Should Never Go Back To Someone Who’s Hurt You” by Sofia Wu may also be helpful.

broken bowlIn sum, there’s a beautiful Japanese concept called kintsukuroi. It’s the process of repairing pottery with gold or silver lacquer and understanding that the piece is more beautiful for having been broken. Let’s all consider ourselves in this light: we are more beautiful for having experienced the heartache and having felt “broken.” May our hearts be filled with gold and be cherished in our next relationships. We are not broken, but repaired more beautifully. May we be wise and see what’s here now.

Thank you to my dear friend R.Z. who has helped me craft these sentiments and relearn my worth. Also AH, AR, EB, and NR for your candor and support.

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