This guest post by “Ellen” (not her real name) shares the story of a young woman’s first devastating breakup – and how and what she learned from it. We’re still accepting stories, so if you have a “worst breakup” story too, please send it along!
I’m only 24 years old, but I feel as if I’ve learned many lessons from the pain, grief, and sorrow of my breakup. It was one of the most difficult and heart-wrenching times I have ever dealt with. But with time, healing, and self-discovery, I was able to overcome.
Let’s go back in time: when I was in high school, I was in denial about my sexuality. I was in the closet, but I told a few friends that I was possibly bisexual, since I felt that was more accepted. But during that time, I had many crushes and infatuations with girls. Alas, none of them ever reciprocated. It wasn’t until I was in college that I met someone who did. Her name was Mary.
Mary and I were friends first before we established an intimate and physical relationship. We got together in the fall of 2009, and I was the happiest I have ever been in my life. But even though our first year being together was very much the “grace period”, the times after that became rather difficult.
I learned that Mary was clinically depressed, and her mood swings, panic attacks, and overall stress were hurting me. No matter what I tried, I couldn’t do anything to help her. Two years passed, and I gave Mary the benefit of doubt because I loved her. I wanted to do everything my power to make our relationship last, even if her depression was affecting me second-hand. After we both graduated from college, Mary continued to grad school while I moved back home to start working. With our relationship now long-distance, I felt scared, worried, and ashamed. I wondered if I was the cause of Mary’s depression. I felt that I was doing something wrong, especially since Mary stopped wanting to talk to me by phone or Skype. The following fall, I started to see a therapist in the hope that I could figure out what was wrong. But in February 2013, I got the fateful phone call from Mary.
My heart was racing, my eyes wide open in shock, my hands shaking. I couldn’t cry right away, but I continued to listen to Mary. She apologized to me and said she felt terrible for treating me poorly, but she also told me that I was a strong person, and that I would be okay. She said she’d been scared to call because she thought I’d be mad, but I thanked her for being honest with me.
About a week after the phone call, I drove up north to see my old friends, and also to see Mary one last time. We got brunch, and then I watched Mary walk away. Deep down in my heart I knew I was never going to see her again. I drove back home crying, but telling myself I had to be strong. But still, the tears wouldn’t stop.
During the first 6 months after the breakup, I had a hard time letting go of all the good times w’d had, and remembering the build-up to our first kiss. A little part of me hoped we might be together again. But I quickly realized that I had to focus on what was going on now. I’d spent so much of my time and effort on Mary, but I hadn’t been making/spending enough time for myself. The one thing that I needed the most to heal and move on was to be by myself–to be alone.
I still saw friends and hung out, but I spent more time honing in on what I truly wanted to do: be a character designer. I wanted to focus on my career, as well as just living life to the fullest. So in the following summer, I started a fundraiser to help cover the cost of an art class at an art academy. After reaching my goal, I was able to start saving money in an effective way to cover the costs of future classes. I put my energy and attention into drawing. My inspiration came back, as well as my willingness to learn. And now, I’m building up my portfolio so that I can be a professional character designer for studios.
Mary was my first serious relationship, but she was not my first love. The day we got together, I realized the true reason why I was attracted to her: I didn’t have to change myself for her. But sometimes, things just don’t turn out the way you hope. I’ve definitely learned not to fully invest into your significant other 100%, because you are both individuals that also need time to be by yourselves. I never got the attention I wanted from Mary, even though I gave her so much when she needed it. I learned not to put my partner on a pedestal. No matter how many relationships I get into, I cannot say that she’ll be “the only one” or “my true love.” It’s too risky, especially since it takes a good number of relationships until people actually settle in with someone.
I’ll conclude my story with something that my dad told me when he was helping me get through:
“Ellen, there’s life before Mary, during Mary, and after Mary.”
And I definitely am living life after Mary 🙂 And I know that one day I’ll meet a lady who will be awesome, but for now, I’ve got lots to do for myself!