Hi everyone. So, a confession: I’ve been on this forum for a few months. I’ve read every post here, some more than a few times. I’ve gained a lot of perspective from reading everyone’s stories. It’s helped a lot just knowing that I wasn’t alone in this. Initially I felt very alone post-breakup. I had no answers and no one to relate to. I didn’t know how to explain what happened to myself or anyone. And no one could explain it to me. It was all so bewildering, maddening, and sad. I spent weeks trying to understand what my ex was (and still is) going through. I spent weeks torturing myself, because I was so certain I caused the breakup. I thought maybe my ex felt I said the wrong things. Maybe I let her down. Maybe I failed the test of really being there for her. It was really hard trying to navigate my own thoughts. I had no roadmap. Then I found this place, and I’m grateful.
My story is no different from most of your stories. My ex, Dee, lost her grandma to a stroke right before this past Thanksgiving. Her grandma was in a coma for a week, couldn’t pull through, and passed away. My ex and her siblings were raised by their grandma. She was absolutely the rock of the family.
Our relationship ended on the same day her grandma passed away. Prior to this tragedy we were a very sweet and loving couple. We hadn’t been dating really long, just under a year, but it was getting serious. We were happy and totally adored each other. We were supportive and communicated well. She’d tell me our love was everything in this world to her. We’d see each other 3-4 times a week and we were making plans for all of the upcoming holidays. We were planning trips for 2019. We were excited about the present and the future. Our future. I know, it all starts to sound the same, right?
Looking back, I see how much of a pressure and energy burden our relationship was/could be. From reading these posts and especially insights from Rae1991 and kayc, I see how stressful a relationship is, even a good one. They can be intense, take up a lot of time, and have a ton of requirements. It’s strange that in my 30-something years I’ve never seen it that way until now. Dee and I naively assumed forever was a given. Whenever our schedules didn’t line up or we had to postpone something she loved saying, “Don’t worry, honey. We’ll always have time for everything.” We were piling on all these plans, expectations and obligations. But I don't think slowing things down would've changed the outcome. That’s another thing I’ve learned from coming here. It was always going to end this way.
During the week of her grandma’s hospitalization I could feel my ex withdrawing and shutting down. I know it was overwhelming for her. She was bracing herself every day for the worst news. She had family flying into town, which carried its own drama and strained relationships. She had also started a new job 3 weeks prior, so her anxiety was already elevated. She apologized for not having time to spend together that week, which I understood. I told her not to think about that and that I was available for anything she needed. I limited the calls and texts. I knew she needed time to be with her family, make her hospital visits, and focus on her job as much as possible. So we made plans to spend time the following week; at this point we still thought her grandma had a chance of recovering. I didn’t push in scheduling these plans at all, but now I feel guilty that it was even brought up. I also wasn’t immune from the occasional lovey-dovey text. We were so used to bombarding each other with them every day. I just didn’t know at the time that I needed to cut them out. I still feel bad about these little things, for adding that additional stress onto her.
I did the best I could. She always told me how much she loved me for being able to comfort her whenever she was sad or upset. But this time was different. Towards the end of the week everything I said and did felt completely futile. It didn’t help that I didn’t really know what to say. I did my best to be compassionate and understanding, like always. I stupidly thought I’d eventually come up with the magic words that would fix everything. But I couldn’t make her feel better. She said she couldn’t feel anything.
As her grandma’s condition worsened, she was really struggling and said she wanted to shield me from the situation. She said she didn’t want it to affect me. She was pushing me away. She said I was a ball of white light and she didn’t want to “stain” me with her problems. She called herself a troubled sad girl. Hearing this made me so incredibly sad. I told her not to think that. I wasn’t going anywhere. She said, “It’s strange. I know I love you. I know I love my family. But it’s hard for me to feel any of that right now. I can’t explain it.”
Soon after her grandma died, Dee deleted herself from my life. I guess in hindsight that was the best thing for us. It was quick. And clean. We had no discussion; she merely recited her internal monologue. She said the same words and phrases that I’ve read many times on this forum. She said she felt completely numb, other than unbearable anger and sadness over her grandma. She didn’t want to take the anger out on me so she didn’t want to see me. She didn’t need me for anything, had nothing to say anyways, and wanted to be alone. A relationship was the last thing on her mind right now. She didn’t want to be with anyone and didn’t need to talk to anyone about what happened. She said we were no longer compatible. She said her happiness was broken now and maybe forever. And because I used to make her happy that connection was also broken. And she really, really didn’t want to think about me at all. Especially after her grandma. It was too much. And then she apologized, saying she didn’t really know why she felt this way or where it was all coming from.
And that was pretty much it. She did mention possibly taking a break, but it felt like a random thought to me. I knew there was no point. I knew I couldn’t help her. It was clear she wanted nothing from me. I was so consumed with worry and sadness for her, and confusion and desperation over our relationship. But I didn’t push or fight to save it because I just knew I had to let her go. She’s a very stubborn and prideful person. After everything she said, trying to hang on or beg or reason with her was only going to make her hate me (if she didn’t already). And so I kindly bowed out, to let her heal and focus on herself. This was so beyond painful and conflicting. I felt I was doing the right thing but also like I was abandoning this person who I loved more than anything. But I didn’t want to be the annoying fly buzzing around in her background. I haven’t heard from her since. I don’t expect to see or hear from her ever again. It sucks.
I can’t say I’ve ever gotten satisfactory closure from previous breakups, so it’s not something I need. But despite my increased understanding of all of this, and the clean break…the pain of it all is still massive. Some days are still bad. Most of them aren’t anymore. The number of triggers that make me think of her seem endless. One thing I still can’t shake is the overall disappointment, from the broken dreams and lost future. That actually haunts me more than the sadness. My past relationships followed a more typical lifespan. Things would usually get rocky, or fizzle out, or feelings fade, etc. I could usually see a breakup coming. But this one was so sudden and confusing. And like others have said, I felt kind of embarrassed, too. It was embarrassing telling friends and family how amazing everything was…to all of a sudden it’s over.
There are lots of lessons to be learned from these situations. And lots of emotions that need to be processed and dealt with. I know my pain is nothing compared to hers. But I can’t feel guilty anymore in acknowledging my own hurt. For a long time I felt selfish for being sad. But I have to face my own feelings in order to move on. I know she didn’t meant to hurt me intentionally. Our journeys have totally diverged. The coldness and emptiness I felt from her at the end, which saddened me at the time, makes more sense to me now. This is how she chose to protect herself. It’s not something she wanted. I hope she’s doing better. I’ll be more mindful if I’m ever in this situation again, and more accepting of whatever the eventual outcome will be. Letting go is for sure the hardest thing to do. Understanding why is second. Even when your brain knows you must let go, the heart struggles. But like everyone has said, the sooner you can actually do it, the better off you’ll be. One step at a time.