Should you doubt my ability to write about this topic, I’m happy to let you know that I’ve been broken up with four times at this point in my life. Technically one of those break ups was kind of mutual but he was an asshole about it. The first time was over the phone, which in high school I guess was actually a bit of a courtesy. The second time was in a park, where I was left to cry about an hour’s walk away from my house. Regardless I’ve learned from my experience that break ups, as do all things in life, build character (and instill fear into the minds of romantics everywhere). The way I see it, there are four common stages involved in moving on after a breakup.
- Sadness– the likes of which often stems from disappointment or even surprise. Ending any kind of relationship, even a platonic one, is sad. It sucks that in most cases it’s difficult to remain friends, because the reason you started dating that person in the first place was probably because you enjoyed their company. And now they’re gone, and that sucks.
- Anger– a lot of this feeling is probably valid, but I know that part of it is also just a means to get out of stage one. Anger is a great way to reclaim your feelings in a break up, particularly if you previously felt confused or were still hoping the relationship could be repaired.
- Time– it’s stupid advice and quite frankly no one in a break up wants to hear it but it’s true, time does heal everything. It allows you to turn present feelings into memories, whether good or bad. You step away from a relationship, return to being single and realize that the life you had before is still there.
- Post anger-anger– Ok so now, a solid amount of time has passed. Technically you’re healed but if your ex were to walk into the room right now, you might stop breathing, have a tiny heart attack or feel your stomach turn inside out. Maybe not, I don’t know where you’re at. In which case, residual anger is a fun alternative for any remaining break up feelings you might have. Take me for example, who experienced an empowering and likely neurotic moment last year in which I purged some things my ex-boyfriends had given me. I actually started a small trash can fire in the shower while my roommate was at work, and just sat watching it burn while the fire alarm went off. I kind of thought it was funny, I took pictures actually, thinking that it would make a good visual for a blog post.
Exhibit A: ex-boyfriend’s hat, that he gave to me, then asked for back post break up, then decided he didn’t want it that badly and gave it to me again. I actually really liked that hat.
Exhibit B: The contents of two separate gifts from two separate boys. Neither of which were burned out of scorn, but rather to prove to myself that I didn’t need to have them anymore.