Getting Over a Breakup

Sunday, July 22, 2018

I am uncannily great at breakups, and it's mostly because I'm equally fantastic at relationships.
If you've ever been in a relationship with me, you know -- if people had Yelp reviews (and they should), my top-rated one would be "this girl loved me in such extraordinary ways. I've never met somebody who tried so hard to make me feel important."

I know this because I conduct exit interviews as part of my breakup standard operational procedure.

But uncomfortable jokes aside, I really am a cool cucumber when it comes to breakups. Not at first, though. I'm a sensitive girl. I cry until my head hurts in that weird spot between my eyebrows, and then because I am Asian, I wake up with six eyelids the next day. But being unabashedly, wholly emotional makes me a little wise in some ways. I was raised on Rilke and Whitman and Dostoevsky, and it has, forgive the hubris, made me indestructible. You become convinced, and can testify, that grief and heartbreak can catalyze personal growth (and the best art of your life) in exceptional ways. And slowly, you become excited for the person you will become.

1. Accept that grief is a really important rite of passage. 
Shortly after my high school boyfriend passed away, I read a quote that said "one of the hardest things you will ever have to do is to grieve the loss of a person who is still alive," and I was like what a load of bullshit. I also learned to get off Tumblr.

(For more about how to help a friend grieve, read this post I wrote about how my friends got me through the darkest period of my life.)

But I do acknowledge the awful things breakups can do to you. Someone I dated said "I appreciate that this is hard for you," as if I were wearing really uncomfortable lingerie and he appreciated the effort, rather than dealing with the pain of "surprise, we are not actually in love!" But it was the right thing to say. It is hard. It's the stuff of shitty poetry books (as if I could miss the opportunity to throw shade at r.h. sin and rupi kaur and the like!), and monumental works of music and art. Failed relationships, unrequited love, this is the stuff that makes the human experience so tragic and beautiful, all at the same time. I'd do it a hundred times if it meant I would feel a happiness that was twice as vibrant.

Contrary to what you might think, I don't actually romanticize pain. I'm not stupid. But I accept that part of a fulfilling and well-rounded life is failure, heartbreak, and loss. So I cry a lot. I also laugh a lot. I've lost a lot. I also love harder than anybody I know. It is life, and better yet, it is living. Grief can be healthy if you enter it fully aware that it, too, should and will pass.

Grief also cannot be monopolized, defined, or contained. For the lucky, dealing with grief looks like going on a long run. (Unfortunately, nothing in my life is dealt with by going on a long run.) For some, it's burritos and ice cream and chick flicks. For me, it's poetry and rich literature and sometimes a very long Reddit binge. Do it, but don't do it forever. When the grief becomes more identity than experience, you need to move on.

2. They can be everything you've wanted and more. You won't always feel that way. 
I've journaled through most of my recent breakups (luckily for us all, I am no longer doing so publicly on Tumblr!), and I think what's really beautiful about documenting the intimate moments of your own life is being able to reflect on them when you are a little wiser and more distant from that pain. You might realize that the things that were paramount to you once now hold less weight. You might learn a little bit more about how you express and need to receive love. You see yourself growing and evolving, and it reminds you that in December 2015, you might have been furiously googling "no contact ex will he miss me and when will he tell me and also will he want to get back together" but by January 2017 you were huddled over an XL cone of piping hot fries at Maison Antoine in Belgium, living your best life. So by the time July 2018 rolls around and some really, truly wonderful boy has broken your heart, you can kind of remember, "okay, this is shitty, but it won't always be shitty."

You may also wonder why you dated the Soundcloud rapper in the first place. It's okay, we all have a Soundcloud rapper or other notched in our bedpost.

If nothing else, do it for the future giggles. I promise they are ahead.

3. Don't do the dumb shit everyone warns you not to do. 
Speaking as someone who has done, uh, questionable things to an ex, revenge is stupid and will grant you absolutely zero closure. So don't do questionable things. Don't do that thing where you post to your Snapchat story in the hopes that they'll see it. Don't do that thing where you make vague comments and tweets. Don't drunk-text them. Don't accidentally text them. Don't play any other desperate iteration of just wanting to feel wanted by someone who has already made it very clear that you no longer have a future together. Don't get a tattoo. Don't launch an anti-romance crusade. Don't reblog shitty teenage posts on Tumblr (but do read from the wise and insightful. You'll know the difference when you see it.) Don't burn their shit, it's a waste of energy and bad for the environment. Don't demonize them in your mind, don't worship them into mythological beings. Don't convince yourself that they were the one and only one. Don't be afraid.

4. Repeat the mantras.
"Because at the end of the day, if someone does not meet you where you are, you cannot keep asking them to do so. If someone cannot reciprocate your love, if someone cannot give you what you truly deserve, you have to understand that aching for them to do so before they are ready is a form of self destruction. Your heart is a vast and tender thing, you cannot keep trying to shrink it into what someone else needs. You cannot keep pouring your love into a vessel that cannot contain it. You cannot keep pouring your love into a soul that has not opened their eyes to all they are receiving. You cannot keep pouring your love into a heart that is closed off to it. It will only leave you empty. You have to walk away. You have to let this person grow on their own terms, because you can't love someone into their potential. You can't love someone into being ready. They have to do that on their own."
B I A N C A  S P A R A C I N O 

"Someone can be madly in love with you and still not be ready. They can love you in a way you have never been loved and still not join you on the bridge. And whatever their reasons you must leave. Because you never ever have to inspire anyone to meet you on the bridge. You never ever have to convince someone to do the work to be ready. There is more extraordinary love, more love that you have never seen, out here in this wide and wild universe. And there is the love that will be ready."
N A Y Y I R A H  W A H E E D

"When you meet that person. A person. One of your soulmates. Let the connection. Relationship. Be what it is. It may be five minutes. Five hours. Five days. Five months. Five years. A lifetime. Let it manifest itself, the way it is meant to. It has an organic destiny. This way if it stays or if it leaves, you will be softer from having been loved this authentically. Souls come into, return, open, and sweep through your life for a myriad of reasons. Let them be who and what they are meant."
N A Y Y I R A H  W A H E E D

"Promise me you'll remember, you are braver than you believe, stronger than you seem, smarter than you think."
A. A.  M I L N E, W I N N I E  T H E  P O O H

"I'll always belong to myself, even as many times as I'll try to give myself away, and as many times as someone else will try and take it, I'll always belong to myself."
R A I N E R  M A R I A  R I L K E

"Let everything happen to you. Beauty and terror. Just keep going. No feeling is final."
R A I N E R  M A R I A  R I L K E

And finally, the one that will touch me always and profoundly: 

"It is possible to commit no mistakes and still lose. That is not failure. That is life." 
S T A R  T R E K ( I  T H I N K)

With great love, growing ever greater still,


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