Let me first start by saying, this is a philosophical post. Nothing bad has happened with the BF and I don’t plan for any heartache. This is in response to blog post I recently read on A Summer of New. (This blogger happens to be someone I went to school with, and I could probably write a great number of posts on those times. She was that one person I wanted to be just like – be that smart, produce those amazing posters and assignments, and nightly sentences (to help with our spelling and vocab development). She got more 100% and Amazing foil stickers than I could fathom. For the later years of primary school, this was who I looked up to.)
Anyhow, she mention in the linked post about the ups and downs of life. The times of being happy, and then of recovery, often related to the end of a relationship. It brought me to thinking both about relationships, but also their ends.
I always feel my ends of romantic relationships should be silent. Certainly, the anguish and sadness shouldn’t be outwardly visible for more than a week or two. Maybe, with family, you can wallow in you hurt for a little longer, but your friends much prefer you were you’re not sad faced, or quiet and dull. You’re to be chirpy and happy.
I distinctly remember a friend experiencing a break up about the same I did, and her saying ‘you have no right to still be sad, how long were you together, a few months? Me & him were together for 5 years!’, as if hurt is proportional to the duration of the relationship. As if I could only be sad for a snippet of time, whilst she continued to heal for years.
The truth is, it takes time to heal from the rejection. From the confusion. Even when you are the one that ends a relationship, it takes time to be sure you’ve done the right thing. To believe that another relationship is possible, another relationship equally deep that shares all the positives of the past relationship, all the good qualities. Sometimes, it does truly feel like you’ll be alone forever, and perhaps the ex isn’t *that* bad?
I reflect on the years of my dating life, and I too can see expanses of years where I retreated into my shell in the romantic sphere. Where I still socialised, but was not truly ready to challenge myself with a new relationship.
But socially, in the greater world, I feel heartache is silent. It’s made to be silent. I feel, when it’s the end of a marriage, it’s a little more open. A little more supported. But the end of other relationships are like a shadow, hardly even noticed.
Would you agree?
12 Replies to “Pondering heartache”
Wow Sarah, I'm so flattered that I inspired your article, and thanks for sharing the link to my blog! Its funny too to hear how you looked up to me when we were young, you know I never knew that…Funny how the over-achievers of primary school have become the under-achievers of adulthood!
I hope my blog post was not too full on, its just I have decided that my blog will be space where anything goes…probably because exactly as you say in your post, that there is not that room in real life. While I'm glad my friend spoke the truth to me about where she thinks I'm at, that is still her opinion as to where she thinks someone should be at, not mine, so I probably shouldn't project it so harshly onto myself. Thanks for sharing your experiences.
I didn't give off some creepy vibe of stalking your meticulous handwriting and epically long sentences and perfect posters? Well that's a relief… But I now write beautifully, after noticing it took time to have good penmenship and there was no hurry, after watching you write.
Don't apologise for your blog, it can be whatever you want it to be – as is mine!
I certainly think there's this deep dark hole after a relationship ends, and sometimes you can linger too long it, but just the same, sometimes people who mean well don't understand your need to hide and to heal, and that it doesn't take a prescribed amount of time. Gentleness is needed with fragile hearts.
I married at 26, and we lived together for a couple of years before that, so I missed those periods of heartache. But I will try to remember to allow people not to be silent when they go through a breakup. And to allow their sadness to be open for as long as they need.
Married so young (only cause I'm 2 years older now, and not yet likely to be married soon!)
So true…it is amazing really that the end of a non-marital relationship is so often just not spoken about at all. I have a relative who has had 2 relationships end in a decade and I don't think we (the extended family) are still over losing those people, when they were so much part of our lives. But now that I think about it, I don't think we often ask the relative in question how they are faring. Given the massive financial, emotional and psychological upheaval of the end of a relationship, it is remarkable how it is treated in society with barely a murmur.
Agreed! Behind closed doors, I know my family will commiserate that X stopped dating Y and is now with Z, even within our family of 5. It's like we feel the relationship shouldn't ended, and we weren't even in the 'couple'
A dating relationship is seen as less serious than a living-together relationship around here, which is still seen as less committed and less serious than marriage. (I was frustrated a few times before Mr. G and I got married because certain people didn't take our relationship seriously since I was only "his girlfriend" – so I understand completely about people not taking the breakup as seriously either.) But anyway. It's been a while since I had a breakup . . and most people were done talking about it and commiserating after about a week or two – but my best friend was always there for me (even months later) when a song would randomly come on and make me cry or whatever. I need to remember that next time a friend is going through something – breakups suck.
I hadn't thought about living together vs just dating in 'levels' either, but I suppose the same would be true here.
You're right though, after a week or two, it seems you should be over things, at least publicly.
My aunt and uncle went through a rather nasty divorce a couple of years ago, and none of us still know many of the details of what happened. It came as a complete shock to all of us. Thankfully my aunt (my mom’s sister) has seemingly recovered, and goes out with her girlfriends regularly, despite being 50. More power to her!
I do have some friends I vent to about more serious subjects, but for the most part since I’m an introvert, I naturally like to be alone with my thoughts. Writing things out helps the most. The words of others are rarely comforting considering some people just don’t know what to say during tough times besides “I’m sorry.” Even though I ended my last relationship, I definitely had my doubts, but I had to sort through them myself.
You are strong to handle it alone! I'm not sure that's in my nature, but I agree with you that 'I'm sorry' isn't a very satisfying response from friends (though it is better than 'just be happy' or something!)
I think there's a tendency now for people to emote all over the place and be very dramatic about changes in their lives, and to dwell on it for as long as their friends will listen, and maybe more! But of course I would think that way because I prefer to process things on my own, like EM in the comments. I have to remind myself that other people have a greater need to talk, and have their own time lines for getting through things. I find it sad, though, when people can't seem to get on with their lives and choose to define themselves by their past relationships, years later.
I think you raise a very good counter point. I can't imagine internally processing such difficult emotions without other people knowing at least some of it. That being said, I have worked very hard to not let past relationships define me, but I have certainly let the hurt make me a little more cautious.