The ending of a relationship is complicated — even more so when you're the one doing the ending. Writer Edaein O' Connell discusses why it can just be as heartbreaking to be the dumper rather than the dumpee, and why a delayed response from a break-up can hit you out of the blue.
God relationships are sh*t, aren't there? Absolute crap, I say. They come faster than you can say "a pint of Guinness please" and go just as quick.
For two years, your life is full of another person. Someone you might not particularly like at times but overall, you love. Deeply and without fear, you give yourself over to that person and hope they will accept you for what you are. And when they do. it's spectacular. The sky implodes with fireworks, somewhere like Longford wins the All-Ireland and all you know is hope.
You become a sickening person. Turning into something you said you would never be. Neither one of you can decide who should hang up the phone and a Saturday night out on the town is for losers. Relationships are comfort blankets of contentment and when that blanket is pulled away, everything around you shatters and the draft that is real-life chills you to the bone. I did the breaking up, so really I have no right to be sad — but sad I am. Achingly so.
Single life tricks
At the time, it had to happen. There was no way to avoid it and to have even have the smallest chance at happiness, it had to end. I was angry at the person. Reactions which come out of love should be taken as cautionary tales of madness. Love can ruin someone and make them do things they aren't proud of.
I couldn't do it anymore and a fresh start was what I needed.
Within the first month, I was back to my old single life tricks. I reconnected with friends, saw the family and the dog more. I went out, got drunk, got takeaway and passed out. In the second month, I did the same. In the third and fourth, I travelled but stuck with my formula. But in the fifth, the hangover started to kick in.
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It was, initially, great. I rediscovered who I was, what I wanted. Part of the breakup was due in part to me feeling like I had lost myself. The feeling of taking back control was a divine wonder and, when mixed with feelings of disdain for that old relationship, became an addictive tonic.
Blindly, I presumed I would skip the five stages of grief. However, six months in, the initial anger has subsided and now, I'm grieving. Trying and failing to say goodbye to him — to the lazy Sundays; the hand-holding; the hugs; the phone calls; the private jokes and that indescribable feeling that is being in love.
The hardest parts of breakups are the what-ifs. If I had just done this differently, or if we had talked about this more, maybe we wouldn't be in this situation. Love is hard but saying goodbye is harder. And the worst of those farewells is the one you give to the future that you could have had. I am the one who said goodbye to this and I am well aware of what I could have had.
In the midst of everything I have gained, there will always be a part of me given to that other person. A piece I will never truly get back. Those pieces you give each other and the pieces you take away will forever be etched in your memory.
Like many broken couples, you inevitably try and reconnect. Their name pops up on your phone and that buzz of excitement comes back. You quickly you fall back into old rhythms and you start to think this could be good again. You know its dangerous territory but love blinds and confusion kicks in.
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Sometimes, however, too much has happened. One heart can only take too much and behind every interaction are memories of something that went wrong, poisoning your words and feelings.
There are other times when I can't quite figure out if I am happy or not. For a fleeting second, it comes and then just like that, it goes. My heart aches for something I had and now I can't decide if I want it back or not. I found myself at Copper Face Jacks The Musical ignoring the stage because I was idly watching a couple in front of me. The quiet touches, the second glances were a chapter I had written before. This is what heartache is though. It's missing someone desperately, wanting them back forever but knowing that at some point, you have to let them go.
And maybe this feeling is the end — the actual goodbye, the part where I set it free. This delayed reaction is selfish and scary and now, I realise I'm alone. This is my life where my choices dictate the outcomes and ultimately this choice is necessary.
I'm scared of love. Of getting into something too quickly and having to feel this way again. Next time, I could be at the receiving end of what I gave out, but either way, heartbreak is heartbreak — its effects don't listen to your story. Some days, my breath catches when I think of a moment, hear a song or see something vaguely familiar. These instances are painful reminders of both good and bad days. And although there was bad and what happened was needed, I still remember the magic. The unmistakeable enchantment that is having someone look at you like you were put on earth for one reason only and that was for them.
Someday, I'll recognise the ache has disappeared. I'll understand that I'm ok. And when I'll see his face, and remember everything, we will smile at the memory of two people who were in love once. And it's those moments I'll cherish, but now it's time to say goodbye and truly move on. This chapter is closed and everything within it will be kept within its confines indefinitely. Sadness and pain don't last forever and someday soon I will be ready to open up to the awe-inspiring tenderness that is love.
And just as quickly as relationships can come and go, I will realise, finally, that I am happy.
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