I recently broke up with my boyfriend and it's been interesting, particularly my friends' reaction to it. Many friends have offered their sympathy and some other well-meaning friends have offered their unsolicited (but appreciated) advice on how to deal with it.
Now, I've been through a few breakups in my day and I haven't felt the exact same way about any of them. Sometimes I think good riddance. Other times I long to have my loved one back. This last one is a mix of both. There are things I miss terribly. There are things I am elated to not have deal with anymore. For this break up I just want to be alone so I sort can through the two conflicting emotions, find out what’s at the root of each, and then figure out what to do about them.
Saying His Name
One friend mentioned that he was surprised that I still talk casually about my ex and still use his name. For a moment I thought that was odd. Why would I mind saying his name? He said he had a couple of friends who, nearly, immediately started calling their ex “that woman” or “that man”. Come to think of it, my ex, Sal, rarely said any of his ex’s names either.
Getting Rid of His Stuff
Another friend was surprised that I was keeping a lot of stuff that belonged to my ex. They were things he didn’t seem to want to take with him when he left. I’m keeping some things for sentimental reason and I’m keeping others because they’re useful. I’m not throwing out the ice trays he bought. I really like ice. I’m not throwing out the chair he bought, it’s quite comfortable. I’m not throwing out the bench press or the bar because I want to use it. My arms could use some strength training. I’m not throwing out pictures of him either because, to me, they are just a part of my story. Anything I didn’t want, I gave back or threw out.
Don't Hurt Myself
More than a few friends suggested that I don’t hurt myself. The first time I heard it, I just took it with a grain of salt thinking, yeah, I guess some people do want to hurt themselves after a breakup, but I’m not one of them. Then, when more people started to say it, I started to worry. Am I giving off some sort of vibe that makes people feel that I’m going to hurt myself and compels them to let me know this? Really, I just want a few days to mope around and think about how I feel. I recognize that I sometimes zone out when I have something on my mind, but does it give off the impression that I want to hurt myself?
Others have suggested I go out and distract myself, to go out with friends and do something, anything. Why would I want to avoid dealing with my emotions only to have to deal with them later because I put it off? I’m not planning on wallowing in my grief forever nor planning to live as a hermit. Left to my own devices, I’m estimating about three days of soul searching. It’s going to take much longer if I just keep putting it off. Of course, it doesn’t mean that I haven’t put it off. I’ve gone to work. I’ve gone out with friends, but my mind isn’t completely there because my attention is still on the breakup.
Dealing With It
A friend of mine sent me the above Dilbert comic strip. It’s about work and interruptions. Tasks get completed far more quickly without interruptions. Distracting myself is an interruption.
So, maybe, when your other friend hasn’t dealt with their break up 6 months later and you’re wondering why they are still dwelling on it, maybe, it’s because they have followed that advice to not dwell on it and therefore not deal with it.
I think everyone deals with breakups in their own way. For me, please, please just let me deal with this in my own way.