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Vandal

A long post about a simple breakup

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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.

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My friend, my heart hurts for you, and I'm so sorry for the reasons that brought you here. I hope you know that your grief is just as valid as anyone else's, including that of your ex whose grandmother has died. The difference is that yours is what is known as disenfranchised grief ~ that is, grief that isn't generally recognized by others as legitimate and real, and certainly not publicly mourned (such as with a funeral and a wake) ~ which leaves you feeling unsupported and all alone, with nowhere to take your pain. I invite you to read this article, Coping With Hidden Sorrow ~ and know that here you are surrounded by others who DO understand. ♥️

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Hey Vandal,

I had been lurking here before I posted for over a year because I couldn't make an account at the time. It was hard to read all these stories that were so similar to mine, but in reading them I began to understand my feelings, that I wasn't alone in this, and how to learn to finally let go of Tim.

With these situations, hindsight is always 20/20, but at the time, we simply reacted the only way we knew how, with love. Having been on both sides of the spectrum, the griever and the dumpee of a griever, it is a strange feeling.

I too felt guilty for a long time for both doing what I did to Joe, and for having to listen to my own heart and head in my situation with Tim in my choice walk away.

15 hours ago, Vandal said:

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.

I never needed closure because I was accustomed to not getting it. But same with my situation with Tim, I thought our relationship was getting serious, and it was hard to accept that not only was I wrong but it turned out to be mostly lies from him. It was confusing and disappointing and those feelings stuck around for months afterward. I'd say it took me 8 months or so until I was fully in a place of acceptance that we weren't compatible, for the triggers to stop, to be fully aware that my feelings were gone and the reminders of him to fade.

I had to cut contact with his brother and sister who are both good friends of mine (they introduced us) for a few months because every time I would talk to them, I would just be reminded of our failed relationship. They understood at the time and were really upset with Tim over how he behaved with me, but they're glad I have moved on. They even said he didn't deserve my kindness or love, and maybe they were right, but it happened, so it is what it is.

If I am ever put in this situation again, I like you, am better equipped: Walk away. I won't second guess, I won't feel guilty, I'll just walk. As harsh as it might sound, its only necessary.

15 hours ago, Vandal said:

 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.

Exactly. Our brain already knows what our heart doesn't want to accept.

--Rae :)

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I am so sorry you have been going through this, I know how painful it is, how shocking.  You have self-analyzed, but I want you to know you have nothing to feel responsible or badly for.  There are a certain number of people that deal with their grief by cutting off their closest relationship.  I'm the type that would want my relationship there by my side to go through everything with, not cut them off, but that's me and this is them.  I wondered, had we been married, would he have still broken up with me?  Probably not, most don't, although I saw that happen once.  

Closure can be nice and tidy, but it doesn't happen like that, instead we're left dealing with this and all of our unanswered questions on our own.  Knowing we have to be enough, we will get through this.  And yes, of course, worrying about how they are, but ultimately also trusting that they too will be enough for themselves, to see themselves through this.

You have nothing to feel guilty about, no what ifs, nothing you didn't handle right, it's just her response and hers alone, to the grief that struck.

I, too, went through the triggers, the grief of losing that relationship, I couldn't go to our restaurant, park, etc. even going to church was hard because he'd attended with me for a year.  But I got past that and none of those things trigger me anymore, now it's just a faint memory without the painful emotion associated with it.  Time really does help, so does working through it.

It's not okay that they did this to us, whatever they were going through...didn't make it okay.  But it's how they deal, and is what it is.  We were not deserving of this treatment.  I hope you know that.

I've come to the conclusion that in my case, everything worked out for the best, even though the way I experienced it may not have been the best...he had issues, and is just now, nine years later, beginning to get help for his issues.  After a hiatus, we reconnected as friends and I can be supportive much better as a friend...he wasn't ready for a committed relationship with anyone, I can see that now.  Now I can let his issues be his to deal with.  I know their grief (his over his mom, your ex' over her grandma) is all encompassing in the beginning and takes much time to process and get through.  I'm glad you can see that and are allowing her the space to do this as she must.  Still...I'm sorry for your pain and it's effects on you.  You seem a strong person and I'm confident you'll get through this.  Gosh, at four months out, I think that was the turning point for me, doing what I must for MYSELF.

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Thank you for the heartfelt responses, MartyT, kayc, and Rae1991.  I appreciate all of the help and wisdom you've provided for so many on this forum like myself.  

MartyT, thanks for the article recommendation.  It made a lot of sense to me.  Being dumped like this was a different experience, and I didn't know how I was supposed to feel until it caught up and hit me.  It took awhile for it to even feel real, but I feel it now.

kayc, I know deep down you're correct that this was probably for the best for both of us.  My ex dealt with chronic depression and also issues regarding her relationships with both of her parents.  We didn't know each other long enough for me to know the true depth and complexities of her unresolved pain.   I was aware, but only had the pieces she chose to share so far.  They were all very sad stories.  We want to be there for those we love especially when they're hurting, but in the end the choice of actually dealing with their issues is theirs alone.

Rae1991, every time you lay out the truth about stopping contact and setting boundaries, it always makes sense.  A few weeks ago I thought about asking a mutual friend if they knew how my ex was doing.  Just in a generic "is she okay?" sense.  But I stopped.  There wasn't much to gain from starting that conversation, and I risked making them feel uncomfortable.  Plus I'm a flawed human, with a bruised ego.  What if I heard something back I didn't like?  And am I really asking for her sake or mine?  So it made me realize I have to learn to protect myself, too.  Some people can handle those gray areas after a breakup.  I probably can't yet, so it's best not to start.

Thank you again for helping me with all of your input.

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It helps to have a period of no contact for your healing and clarity.  Whether a person can resume as friends depends on where their heads are at but it's very individual and I know it can't work if one is secretly hoping for more.  Sometimes it's in your best interest just to have a clean break, but again, it depends on a lot of factors individually.

No contact is no phone calls, no asking friends (tell them not to tell you about the other person), no driving by their house, no cyber-stalking, no Facebook, etc.

You are a wise person, you already know inside yourself what we've told you, you are going to be okay, it just hurts so darned much for a few months before it seems any better!  We go through it, do what we can for ourselves, spend time with family & friends and positive activities, allow ourselves to mourn some...I remember having to let go of "things" he gave me, and for a time avoided places we'd spent time, but eventually even those places no longer had that emotional pain and I could resume going there.  It's about giving ourselves the gift of time to heal.

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On 3/13/2019 at 10:17 AM, kayc said:

It's not okay that they did this to us, whatever they were going through...didn't make it okay.  But it's how they deal, and is what it is.  We were not deserving of this treatment.  I hope you know that.

I've come to the conclusion that in my case, everything worked out for the best, even though the way I experienced it may not have been the best...he had issues, and is just now, nine years later, beginning to get help for his issues.  After a hiatus, we reconnected as friends and I can be supportive much better as a friend...he wasn't ready for a committed relationship with anyone, I can see that now.  Now I can let his issues be his to deal with.  I know their grief (his over his mom, your ex' over her grandma) is all encompassing in the beginning and takes much time to process and get through.  I'm glad you can see that and are allowing her the space to do this as she must.  Still...I'm sorry for your pain and it's effects on you.  You seem a strong person and I'm confident you'll get through this.  Gosh, at four months out, I think that was the turning point for me, doing what I must for MYSELF.

I've come to the same conclusion with both Tim and Joe. It would've ended regardless of how much longer I'd have stayed in either relationship. I would've left or divorced Joe had we stayed together, and Tim either would've dumped me eventually, or I him to pursue the life I have now. The life I've built for myself, full of adventures, my career, education and better more supportive friends than I had in my hometown. 

But, Kayc is right. We didn't deserve what they did to us. Nor did we do anything to make them behave as such. Don't let yourself, or others make you believe that you did something to deserve it. 

--Rae 

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I just want to chime in and express my appreciation for all th thoughts expressed in this thread. Especially validation for the fact that we acted with love and didn't do anything to deserve such treatment.

Im beginning to see that, although this type of behavior is not uncommon with grief, it is not a rule. Some people grow closer to loved ones through sharing the experience.  We, the brokenhearted, would do anything to support our loved one. The rejection reaction seems indicative of underlying problems with our partners that would probably have come out over time. We tried our best to be good to them; it can be hard to accept but Im thinking that they are not good for us.

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You are absolutely correct in everything you just said!

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