Probably one of the worst moments in your breakup recovery is the first time you do something that you used to do with your ex. It hurts so much because it is a stark reminder of the fact that when you had done that thing, been to that place, experienced that special moment, you had no idea it would be for the last time.
First time going to the movies without them, first time going to dinner…Probably the worst of all is going to bed for the first time without having them to wake up next to. I still remember how my entire body felt like it had been sucker-punched when I woke up the morning after my breakup and realized it wasn’t a dream at all. He really had left me, and I never got the chance to savor the last time he was lying next to me.
I just wanted to fall asleep and never wake up again.
Sure each time gets that little bit easier with everything you get used to doing on your own again, but in the beginning each one just feels like a punch in the guts. I remember after my first breakup, my parents took me out for brunch. They knew I loved brunch, and it would be a sure-fire way to make me feel better. To their horror, I ended up balling my eyes out for 2 hours because I had realized the last time I had ‘brunch’ was when I was happily coupled-up with my ex. It was such a small thing to cry over, but the thought of it made me completely lose any sense of trust in people, and my own ability to judge a situation. While I had thought our relationship was fine, and I had someone to share my smashed-avo Sundays with; he must have been thinking of how much he didn’t like me right?; like how he was going to get rid of me?!…But I never saw that on his face; I never saw it coming at all. What does that mean for any other happy times I have – are they all just a lie too??? This cycle of constant questioning and overthinking can happen with anything, and it makes you feel terrible, and completely unhinged.
When we go out with someone for a long time we establish a pattern with them; a synchronicity where we know our position relative to each other, and an identity that is richly intertwined with that person. A breakup, especially one you weren’t expecting disrupts that pattern and sets us into a free-fall. There is no reference point to gauge what is happening or any form of solace to cling to; only the knowledge that the person we had finally found to enjoy those things with, no longer wants to enjoy them with you.
These times are particularly challenging, and can get so difficult that we can sometimes avoid those things altogether, just so we don’t have to feel the pain again. We can stop going to certain places, not watch certain movies, or be involved in certain activities all because it reminds us of our ex.
But that just leads to a life that is forever constrained by something that has happened in the past. Our memories of what was and what should have been are the things that keep poking at the wound, not the actual things themselves. The things we actually enjoy doing or seeing or experiencing should not be off-limits because of what you had hoped for when you were doing it last.
The times we spend with our loved ones are certainly a privilege, and are not always guaranteed. However we must look on those experiences with gratitude and place them lovingly in the past where they belong, and move forward.
While it is hard taking those first steps as a single person once again, remember it gets easier with each time. And while it may take some getting used to, reclaim those places and experiences that you want back in your life so that you can enjoy them once again.
Being single is just a new pattern to get used to, so make it a beautiful one.