Here Is How To Break Up Without Breaking Down


Consider if you will the word breakup. And then consider that it is called a breakup and not a breakdown. I know there is a book out there with a similar title…titleage? Is that even a word? I digress. Anyway, so we are looking at the root word “break” and what might be flying through our minds? My first thoughts, naturally are the two separate times I fractured the same leg. Oy, that hurt. I had to wear a cast the length of my leg and thigh. I relied on a wheel chair, a crusty ole wooden pair of crutches that shredded and tore at my youthful pits the more I leaned on them, and then graduated to the boot which helped me to limp around the world for yet another month or so until the day came that my skinny, atrophied, hairy leg was once again revealed to the light of day. Only to be broken in what the doctor put as “a nearly impossible” break along the long outside edged toe bone years later. Now I could not have possibly predicted the likelihood of breaking the same leg twice by just falling over.

You are intelligent and taking care of yourself and somehow it brought you to this page. So you can probably see this obvious analogy for the situation you may be in. You break a leg, it takes time and patience to heal. There is nothing you can do but wait it out and remain as calm as possible. Even though suddenly your leg has acute claustrophobia and every so often you may panic, all you can do is give that sonofabitch time to heal. So, I propose you put your heart in a cast. Set it and wrap it and elevate it as much as possible. Let it heal. Give it and yourself adequate time. Be realistic for crimminey’s sake! And instead of breaking down why not do everything you can that is humanly possible to break up? Yes “up”. It’s a simple but powerful word that when replacing the prefix break with a more positive one, we might find ourselves in a new and more enlightening shit-uation. Because yeah, this sucks, but it’s gonna teach me something or else it wasn’t worth it. Here’s a list: level, move, rise, change, wise, love, aspire, wish, do, redo, etc. And during this process, I want you to put that broken heart of yours first before theirs.

Now, right now I am going to tell you that I fucked up four break ups before I “wised” up and before I “changed” up my attitude. I have bipolar disorder, obsessive thinking, self-esteem issues, PTSD, and pretty much the business when it comes to physical ailments. So people might say “hey Natalie, you really sucked at break-ups, why on Gods green dollar should we listen to you?” Here’s why. You have to live to learn. I have loved what I learned about myself. And what I now can do. I can honestly say I am a good person. But I can also say I can both suck and blow at being a human being. Those people who handle (or claim to at least) every situation with perfection and finesse are ticking time bombs. I’ve seen them go off. Only they do it in private and then end up sitting next to me in group therapy. Or worse, the mental hospital. It’s okay to take the high road, I’m encouraging it. But sometimes being the brave one or the bigger person can be detrimental to your health, your relationships with others and your relationship with yourself. Ideally the high road is tread with people taking care of them self and not just their image. So when you’re up there remember, try not to look down on the rest of us mere mortals. And if you get up there, make sure it was through respecting your own wishes and wants and not what others wanted or wished of you.

So here is how I learned not to breakdown. Not anymore at least. How I learned to embrace pain because it is in these worst moments we are able to learn and feel and discover more about ourselves. Time to listen up, to own up, to grow up and to level up. Then you’ll find maybe that you had your own break through, instead of a break down and whatever lies ahead you are prepared. And whatever you find doesn’t serve to make you a better person every day, you have the courage and the strength to give up.

Reading stories online of people hoping to reconnect with their ex four, five and six months post break up scared me shitless. Was I going to be waiting for someone who was never coming back? But what was worse was that there were people still ruminating on what ifs at seven, eight and nine years out. Yikes! And some I could understand. They shared children, a home, a marriage, a decade or two together. But others were grieving for a two month relationship. No, I am not saying there is a time limit on pain. Or a time limit on a legitimate relationship. Everyone is entitled to go through their own process. But at what point did they ever accept that at this moment, this present moment, this is their life? And by giving every day to what ifs, and if only’s they were cheating themselves much worse than that cheater or that indecisive significant other ever had? It boggles the mind how much time I wasted on grief not just for this, but on so many other things in my life I could have let go of sooner if I had really tried and focused on building the life I wished to have on a day by day basis. At what point might they stop and look at the thread they were contributing to and see that in between their hard fought struggles people were posting love spells from Doctor Molumbolu of the Chicken Catchetory tribe. If that juxtaposition didn’t snap me into the present I don’t know what else would have. Not even the words “I don’t love you anymore and I never will again” spoken by the man I truly thought I was going to marry. It begs repeating. Yikes!

Breakups become more about our responses to them than about who is right or wrong in the end. Nor about the possibility of some grand romantic reconnection in a distant future. That isn’t important right now though it is running circles round your head. If you just decide not to run that race, to see who wins and who loses, or if you are even still in the running, you’ll find yourself going at your own pace. Truth is no one has a chance to lose in this situation even if they really have lost the love of their life. Because 1.) life ain’t over bitches and bro’s and 2.) all relationships end with one person leaving the other whether it’s mutual, a break up, divorce or worse; death. Would you feel better if they were dead? If you would then I would say that, with risk of being judgmental of your unique emotional style, you are either still hurt and angry, or it wasn’t really love and you can’t admit it.

My most recent ex and I couldn’t weather one of the most difficult storms a couple could face. Being responsible for being irresponsible. I had to admit to myself after the break up that I had nearly sacrificed my moral beliefs to make us both more comfortable. It wasn’t just him stressing a decision but me so willing to sit down and concede without a fight. At that point I realized it had been years since I actually knew who I was or what I wanted. That I never had taken a second to see if I was headed in the direction I had wanted to be going. I just liked being distracted. And when I admitted that to myself months after we parted, it became easier to turn my break down into a break up and more importantly to a personal break through. And I decided I needed to take a knee, or hit the bench, or whatever new metaphor I’m running with, because I was broken. And I knew even if one day I had come home to him on my porch it couldn’t change the simple fact that I wasn’t happy with him or without him. I was just an unhappy person. And as I began to reflect realistically on our relationship I could see just how much I had contributed equally to its demise. It’s like drawing the Ten of Swords over and over again until you finally decide to change your fate.

I read somewhere that being single is a blessing, because you never know when the last time you will be single is. It’s kind of intense and makes life exciting to think of it that way. Sure I could do things to speed up the process but why? I like my life right now. I like the space I inhabit and the way I use it. There are moments I wonder how he is. But I used my own will, something I hadn’t had to exercise in a while, to completely detach from all methods of contact. What would it help to feed into a momentary curiosity when I know in my heart that I risk tail spinning out of control. For what? A couple words in between a canyon so vast and separate now I can’t fathom who might be on the other side? And speaking of spinning out of control I will leave you with this thought. We were taught in therapy to think of our health as this: if you are on a plane where the cabin is losing oxygen and the masks fall down who do you put the air mask on first?

The answer is yourself. That is because you cannot help others unless you help yourself first. How you do that is up to you to both decide and execute. But you know the things that aren’t working? It’s the stuff you keep repeating without any positive result. So remember this the next time you’re with a gorgeous someone on a plane, or in a car, or just having a good cup of coffee and some descent conversation. RuPaul summed the sentiment up nicely by saying “honey, if you can’t love yourself, how the hell are you gonna love someone else?” I’m not asking you to give up, or beat up, or hold up on yourself or your lover. I am simply asking that during this time, you figure out what it is about you that isn’t worth giving up, beating up, or holding up on. Before you do that with the character of your lover, I think you should start with yourself.