Other folk tell you to “Have hope, there is light at the end of the tunnel; even if you can’t see it.” Almost nobody will want to take sides even if the sides of morality are clearly drawn; you can’t really blame them. Relationship breakups hurt us. They can destroy us. So how do we avoid self-destruction; survive & move on. This is one girl’s story, my story part 1 and 5 tips on how to deal with it.
Back at the end of the 1980’s, a somewhat younger version of me, met a soulmate & fell in love. It was sudden, it was absolute. What followed was several decades of fun, love & adventure together. Yes, there were challenges, an injury here, an illness there, controlling in-laws, financial pressures. But what relationship, what life, is without its challenges; in comparison to many, we were extremely lucky.
I never considered the possibility of anything other than death parting us, that was after all what we had vowed to each other. I saw no warnings; my trust was absolute. That was, until the day I was confronted with the statement “I still love you but I love someone else more”. Two weeks later my soulmate, my partner in life was gone.
On that final day, I broke. I felt like I could not carry on, like the vital essence of my life was being ripped from my very being. I begged for us to give it a second chance, then begged that I be helped to commit suicide. Apparently second chances aren’t available and assisting the other would just be a framing for murder. Thus, “Finito, The End”.
Four days later my teenage daughter found me collapsed, on the floor of an outbuilding; suspectedly due to ‘takotsubo cardiomyopathy’, otherwise known as broken heart syndrome. I realised that a part of my life may well be gone but that there was so much more to live for — not least, my wonderful daughter. So how to cope with all this?
1. Stay in your body.
I mean that quite literally. Don’t consider checking out of this wonderful world quite yet. Find a reason to live. In my case I realised that I was being selfish, really selfish. The whole event had been traumatic for my daughter too. She had also been jilted, discarded; yet she had found the strength to pick me up from that building floor and to tell me to fight, to carry on. As it turned out she had endured several months of being manipulated, of enforced secrets, of being used as a smoke screen, of attempts to cajole her in to a lifestyle she didn’t want. She needed me right now. And not a pathetic sorry for herself version of me; she needed the strong determined me and I had to provide that right now.
2. It’s not all your fault.
In fact, very little of it may be. Some people change, they have mid-life crises, they start expressing hidden characteristics that you never knew they had, they get seduced by different ideas & lifestyles. You can’t be responsible for what other adults choose to do and you certainly shouldn’t try to control them. It’s their choice, if it’s a bad choice then that’s their business. You need to concentrate on looking after yourself, not someone else who didn’t value you enough to stick around. By all means learn from any mistakes but don’t brood on them. Was I naïve? Almost certainly. Does that trouble me? No, part of loving someone is not focussing on their bad parts and I don’t regret loving the person I’ve lost.
3. Don’t be alone.
Friends, neighbours, relations — they can all lend a supportive ear. Don’t feel you need to hide away like a rejected lemming, go express yourself, listen to people’s advice, know that there’s a whole world out there. I’m not one for spending much time socialising, not that I don’t enjoy it, just I have so many things in my life; but even I have appreciated the support of those great people around me. And to those who I have spoken a lot, thanks for your support, sorry if I have bent your ears so much that you now resemble a boxer. If you feel the need to take talking therapy further, don’t be afraid to seek a professional’s help or perhaps just the kind ear of a volunteer with organisations such as the Samaritans.
4. See the opportunities, do stuff.
So, if like me you’ve dedicated going on 3 decades to one person, who has now left, don’t brood on what’s lost. Wow! Look forward, look at all those things that you haven’t done but thought one day you might like to. My daughter and I have found a new focus. There are business ideas to investigate, we’re reorganising & redecorating the house, indulging our interests (which fortunately overlap somewhat) and just getting out there. We couldn’t do these things before, on reflection I see that they were shut down by the passive-aggressive in my ex-partner. So great, let’s embrace the new, take a few risks, have some fun.
5. Revenge, Memories, Future.
When someone commits adultery and behaves in a pretty low down way, they often ‘adjust’ reality. By this I mean that they try to convince themselves that their relationship is poor, that there is nothing good to save, that their partner isn’t worth it, perhaps even, that it’s all their partner’s fault. They often also ignore the bad in what they are doing, picturing it as necessary for themselves. This is all to justify their own actions, to somehow cope with the moral bankruptcy of their own actions. For the innocent partner, this is pretty hard to take, but don’t listen to them. Stay firm in the knowledge that you are not the wrong-doer and try not to lower yourself to their level.
Some weeks after ‘The End’, I found it hard when I was told that I had never been loved and that it would be more convenient if I would just die. Whatever is flung at you, try to remain strong in your knowledge of yourself; do not let it be coloured by the machinations of someone who just wants to offload their guilt on to you.
Which brings me to revenge. It may seem like a good idea to cut the arms & legs off your ex’s clothing or perhaps trash their car. But is this really going to make you feel better in the long run? You may be tempted to stalk them, online or for real, but is that going to do anything other than perpetuate your own misery. I say let them go, know what a great person they are losing the opportunity to be with and don’t sully yourself with revenge. Bitterness & revenge gnaw away at your spirit, hurting you more than anyone else. Oh, but if you really must, know that revenge is best served cold, very cold 😉
Instead try to hang on to the good memories. Your ex may well have tried to rewrite history; more fool them for losing the memories of all those good times. Yes, it’ll hurt for a while but one day you may well be able to look back with fondness. I’m a photographer, consequently I have thousands of photos of my ex-partner. At the moment it still hurts to look at them but I’m not going to destroy them — I’ll keep them safely filed, one day I may yet enjoy reminiscing.
It is now 7 months since ‘The End’ and today is our wedding anniversary.
Does it still hurt? Of course it does.
Do I still have moments where I struggle? Indeed, I do.
Do I still love my ex-partner? I guess when one loves truly it can last forever, so … yes.
Am I looking forwards? Yes, with some degree of hope too.
Do I feel like things will get better? Abso..friggin..lutely!
Am I looking for a new relationship? Well… I never went looking for one in the first place. So no I’m not actively looking but I won’t be afraid to commit if one does happen to come my way. I have plenty of love in my heart, why not share it.
Do I hate myself, the world, all humans? Of course not, there are some great folk out there. Shit happens, I’m just trying to deal with it.
Footnote: Wondering about my choice of photo? Well there’s no need to call Sam & Dean, (#Supernatural) I’ve got it covered whatever Demons this world chooses to throw at me.