Dealing With the Pain of Breaking Up

One of the things that’s missing from my writing is emotion, and I know it. I’m always trying to correct that by looking for ways to add emotion to my writing, but I rarely find them. The truth is that ninety nine percent of the time the only emotions I feel are some variation on joy, gratitude, and excitement. I don’t have bad days, even when “bad” things happen to me.

I remember when I broke up with my last girlfriend. I was standing in the airport, about to leave for Tokyo, and she called. We talked for about ten minutes, agreed there was no way forward, and I boarded my plane. I loved her, had thought that she might be the one, and had no bad feelings towards her at all. But I wasn’t really sad, because I felt as though we’d given it an honest shot and that we were doing what was best for both of us.

Two days ago Lucia and I broke up. Broke up is an overstatement, actually, since we weren’t really ever dating. But there were a few weeks where we envisioned some sort of future together, and I was intoxicated by it.

As someone who rarely allows reality to get in his way, the distance and divergent and chaotic schedules didn’t phase me. I’d found someone I really liked, and despite having little basis to believe that it would last, I poured myself into it emotionally. I do that, sometimes. I count on myself to be able to rebound from anything, so I put myself into situations where I may get hurt, physically, emotionally, or financially.

Now, as a consequence, I’m in emotional pain. I feel sad and rejected and confused. Maybe the silver lining, though, is that I get to blog about something emotional for once.

I’m surprised at how much this hurts. We spent so little time together that I expected it to be much easier than other breakups I’ve had. What makes it harder is the loss of potential. I let my mind get carried away with trips we’d take, cruises we’d go on, things we’d learn together. Those things were real in my mind, and they’ve now evaporated. I feel that loss.

Maybe the hardest part is that I don’t really understand what happened. She went from being completely into it to apprehensive about the whole thing in a matter of days. I’ll probably never understand what precipitated that change. I can, of course, think of several things I did wrong, but nothing I’d expect to have such a large effect.

Anyway, I’m not in some black abyss of depression or anything like that. I’m just dealing with temporary emotional pain that I didn’t expect. It’s interesting to observe and to see how it fights with my otherwise hyperlogical mind. In an effort to elevate this post beyond that of a sixteen year old girl on LiveJournal, and to make it useful, here are the methods by which I’m dealing with it:

Maybe the most important thing I realize is that even though I have to deal with this now, I’m still glad it all happened. I’d do some things differently, given the chance, but if my options were this or nothing, I’d gladly take this. Knowing that’s true, I also know that overall this is a good thing. By broadening my point of view to include all of our interaction together, I can be happy about the whole thing instead of sad about the ending.

I also remind myself that although it feels impossible to find a girl I really like, it does happen from time to time. She won’t be the last, especially considering I’m going to focus on dating in 2015. Any time something “bad” happens to me, I look back at it as a good thing, given enough time.

Something I’ve learned through life in general is that there are times when it’s easy to be objective, and times where it’s not. Like when you’re starting a habit, you can be very objective about it, but when you’re a couple weeks in and it’s tough and not paying off yet, it seems like a horrible idea. Right now I’m in the position where the loss feels the greatest, where I’m the most confused, and where I wish things were different. It’s hard to feel it emotionally, but I know that in just a few weeks all of that will lessen and I’ll have a much more clear-headed view.

Actually, just writing about it helps a lot. I started this post because it was occupying my mind and I didn’t feel like I could write anything authentic that wasn’t on the subject. Sorting out my thoughts on paper and seeing the whole situation from a distance gives perspective.

Last week a friend called me for advice on a situation he’s going through. The short version is that his wife has left him, taken the kids, and issued a set of ridiculous ultimatums. He’s dealing with it tremendously well, and just thinking about it makes me realize how trivial my own pain is. Another friend is going through a divorce, and it has sapped his energy and will for months.

In comparison to what those friends are going through, I have it extremely easy, and I don’t forget that for a second. I’m reluctant to write this because often these posts are a cry for sympathy, which is something that would be totally unwarranted in this situation. I write it partially to help me organize my thoughts, but mostly to try to be emotionally honest. My good friend Olivia (who wrote The Charisma Myth) said last night that it’s easy to talk about emotional pain from the past, but very difficult to talk about it while it’s happening. I figured I’d take the challenge for once.


Photo is the bay in San Juan, Puerto Rico.

Reminder– if you want to see me and a bunch of awesome people speak, get a free ticket to Sebastian Marshall’s Give Get Win Tour. I’ll be speaking this weekend in San Francisco and then later in Austin, Texas. Get tickets here.


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