Fall is here. They’re over, the sweet summer days. HAH! Who am I kidding, there were no sweet summer days in the relationship that brutally ended a week ago. Just gross, sweaty, overheated interminable waves of frustration and bursts of anger. Never enough time to cool down between fights. The same scenario, playing over and over, despite incessant hope of rewriting the story:
He is miserable because of his own issues -> I become the care-giver -> It becomes too much for me to handle (my needs are not met) -> I speak up -> We fight -> He apologizes -> We try again -> Repeat the loop.
It was hell for both of us.
My heart still doesn’t seem to understand that getting out of there is a GOOD thing. Being broken up with is the hard part. Right now the separation anxiety and narcissistic + abandonment wounds are all still very raw. Recent. Burning hot. My heart is still screaming “why don’t you love me?” (whereas my brain knows he did/does, and was trying his best). Worse, my heart is still stuck on “I gave you EVERYTHING, I did EVERYTHING I could, and you still didn’t love me enough to stay”. Then my brain steps in: “whoa whoa, hold on now missy. First, it’s not about DOING, but just being. You should never need to earn someone’s love. Second, what really happened is that both of you ended up in the co-dependent relationship that you wanted to avoid. You regressed to playing out old unhealthy patterns, and at least he had the wisdom and courage to end it. You are suffering so much right now because you were rejected. But this is for the best. Use this opportunity to tend to your core wounds, to love yourself, to heal, and to grow so that you don’t keep repeating the same pattern in your future (BETTER) relationships. Do you want to go back to feeling unloved on a daily basis? Or do you want to turn the page and move forwards — and who knows, maybe even one day find a parter who has done the work already and is capable of meeting your needs? Scratch that. Maybe even one day meet your own needs and not depend on someone else to make you happy?”
I know all of this intellectually. But emotionally I am still in junkie mode. I am still ruminating. I walk by his house (he lives a block away) every day, but I resist the urge to look or linger. When he reached out a first time via email to “check in” because he “cares immensely for me”, I resisted the urge to respond and pour my heart out in pain and anger. I maintained no contact. When he drove by my window the other day at midnight (on his way back from a gig), I resisted the urge to stay there, and went back inside. When a couple of days ago, he sent me this message:
the feelings of anger and pain were overwhelming. Mostly anger, at his request to “be friends” -i.e. get his cake and eat it. At his need to be comforted through the guilt and pain of hurting someone’s feelings. [NOT MY JOB ANYMORE!]
Again, I gathered all my willpower and resisted the urge to respond with a 10 page message. I tried to breathe. But on that same morning, I ran into him at the farmers market. Again, I resisted the urge to walk up to him. I stopped myself and froze, standing there, shaking, watching him walk away. I sat with my feelings all day. I cried. I ruminated. I meditated. I talked to friends. I cried some more. And despite all my efforts it was all too much and I cracked and I demonstrated some very poor emotional regulation skills. I worked myself into a state where there were only 3 options left : 1) walk into a bar and get drunk at 11 am, 2) walk up to his house or call him or break no contact in some way 3) go and buy a pack of smokes.
I did 3), ruining 4 months of nicotine free health benefits. It was an unwise choice. In fact, it was not even a “choice”. It was pure impulsivity: I was like a zombie, watching myself walk to the store, buy the stupid cigarettes. Back in my good old days of binge eating, I would have the same eerie impression of watching myself do the thing I know I shouldn’t do. And do nothing to stop it.
That day, I also really, really wanted to drink. But something unshakable in me refused to give in. I thought of the people here (Jim, Nadine, Wendy, I think of you often and you give me strength even when I am at my weakest). I had enough dignity to refuse to let this breakup and this person endanger my sobriety. It’s too recent, too precious. Too innocent, like a newborn.
So I went to the park and smoked and listened to my “how to get over your breakup” audiobook. Then (thanks, universe) I ran into his roommate and put on a brave face and said yeah, things suck but I’m ok. Life goes on. Then I went home, and wrote a laconic, one line email to my ex, ignoring the long message posted up above. I wrote “Hi, I’m ok, taking care of myself and moving forward. I wish you well and hope you can be happy”. He immediately responded and sent that long message again, but I did not engage and simply deleted his new message and sat there. In that one liner, I had said what my higher self had to say: I said goodbye. All the rest, all the 10 page angry emails, all the responses, all the pleading, accusing, analyzing, reproaching, begging, all that is just clinging. Feeding the monster. I MUST MOVE ON. So I ignored his message and tried to live up to the noble “goodbye” that I sent. I tried to actually mean it internally.
I struggle every minute of the day to mean it. To not go back to hoping that he will change his mind and come back.
I smoked that whole pack in two days. It was gross at first, but of course, yesterday when I finished my last cancer-stick, all I wanted was to go out and buy another pack. At least I had a companion now. It’s triggering just to write this down. I’m sorry if this is not helping any ex-smokers who might be reading.
But then miraculously, out of nowhere, my brain stepped in again: “Whoa whoa whoa missy. Hold on. Do you really want to go back to being enslaved by this deadly substance? Is it worth it? Is he worth it?” So I did what Nadine did the other day: I decided to take it day by day. “I can become a smoker again if I want, but not today”. I made it through the day without smoking, by composing a very detailed to-do list and mechanically going through the motions of life. It was so hard. But I survived.
And today, I woke up.
Today is another (unsurmountable-feeling) day.
I am one huge bundle of cravings and withdrawal right now. I miss drinking. I miss my ex. I miss cigarettes. I miss the cat that I adopted but who went into intensive care 2 days later (I am still waiting to hear back from her – I hope she is ok). I miss feeling loved. And everything is mixed up, so that I don’t know what is what. My dopamine levels must be all f****ed up. I feel empty, hollow. No amount of self-care or self-compassion seems to be able to fill the void. I can only lick my wounds. Wait it out.
Meanwhile, the rollercoaster keeps going, up, down, up, down. Wheeeeeeeeeee ! It’s so hard to keep up.
Throughout the ups and downs I try to focus on what really matters.
I am enough. I am lovable.
For the first time ever, I am dealing with some real feelings, without alcohol.
And I remember that although I am not perfect and feel like absolute shit, there is still hope. Hope keeps popping up, I see its little face behind all the shit and the movement and the agitation.
So I make another to-do list.
Or give myself a break from “doing”. And try and remember to just be.
I’m seeing a therapist on Wednesday. I’ve come a long way, but I still have a long way to go.
There is still hope.