The Inquiring Mind - Stories by Carolyn B. Healy

The Inquiring Mind - Stories by Carolyn B. Healy
Location
Hinsdale, Illinois, USA
Birthday
March 15
Bio
Therapist-turned-writer

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AUGUST 27, 2010 2:49PM

THE BREAKUP

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LOVE: Love makes your soul crawl out from its hiding place. ~Zora Neale Hurston


Here is what you say to your heart:

Broken is overdramatic and unnecessarily hurtful. You are not broken; bruised is more like it – alright, perhaps it’s a severe contusion if that pleases you more. You will discolor and feel exceedingly tender for a while; in fact, you’ll hurt in places you didn’t know you had. But no one has to perform open heart surgery to fix you, and you don’t need the paddles to shock you back to life. You’re still beating. You know how to mend yourself, with time. Either you’ve done it before, or it’s time you learned. Over your lifetime, you’ll beat 2.5 billion times. That’s what you’re here for, not to moon over this insult. I can’t get along without you, you know.

Here is what you say to the retreating back of your person of interest:

Goodbye. No pleading, no demands for explanations, no stalking of his/her future activities. From now on, that person is the person who used to be at the center of your life. Old news, out of date, no longer qualifying as the focus of your attention. You need that attention for yourself. He/she is best viewed from a distance, both geographically and emotionally.

Here is what you say to your mind:

Okay, snap to. What were you thinking, investing so much of my capital in this person? Healing up, that’s what you need to be thinking about.

To your guilt:

If you are implicated in the breakup, you need to deliver at least one clear and complete statement of regret to your ex. This must be done with compassion from the high road, and cannot be a backhanded passive-aggressive blame-filled slam at the other person designed to get you off the hook. You don’t get to transfer your guilt and anguish to them so you can walk away more comfortably. Guilt exists for a reason, to call you to be a better version of yourself. So take this opportunity. Say to your guilt: Teach me, let me have it, show me where I should have behaved differently.

If you are not the one initiating the breakup but suspect that you facilitated it by doing or failing to do things that mattered, fine, but don’t twist things around so that you place this whole thing on your shoulders. Also, do not expect and especially don’t demand an apology from your ex. That trivializes your experience, as if this pain could be eradicated by a few words from an outside person who no longer deserves any power over your feelings. This is a collaborative process between you and all your parts. No one else has a say except your steadfast and loyal friends and family. Do not attempt to short-circuit this process by going after a cheap apology. Whatever relationship your ex has with his/her guilt will play out outside of your view, and is now none of your business. You will never know the outcome, and don’t need to.

To your emotions:

Sure, you will be all over the place for a while. I know you can’t help it. But try for a little balance. At some point there will be a few glimpses of good feelings, like freedom and excitement for your new future that will begin to leak through. Usher them to the front and see what they have to say. In the meantime, lay off the sad music and don’t you dare watch An Affair to Remember more than once a week. There is some healing in all that wallowing, but you mustn’t to overdo it or you may end up in a trough. Instead, be the star of your own movie. Cultivate resilience; remember that you are strong, or if you are not, this is your big chance to become so. And cultivate hope. You have no idea what is around the corner for you.

To your body:

You ache, you don’t want to get out of bed, you can’t imagine getting off the couch, but do it anyway. About food, if you can’t eat, think of what used to be your most yummy treat, get some and jump in and then follow it up with a protein bar. If you are stuffing your face, put your fork down and go outside. Food can’t fill that gaping hole, but activity can.

Walk, run, go to the gym and work out. Let one of your exercise nut friends accompany you. Sign up for tennis lessons or go swimming. Either start some new activity or revert to something you loved before the person even came into your life. Reclaim your body from the relationship and strengthen it. Get a massage in order to get a human touch without any complications.

To your friends:

Take me surprising places, get me moving, tell me the truth about my worth and my prospects. Tell me what you wish you could give me. Tell me what I’ve forgotten about myself; tell me who I was before this relationship began. Don’t try to fix me up yet, but start a list of people you think I should meet when I’m ready. Don’t be surprised if I don’t want to use it. Right now, I don’t think I’ll want to risk going through this again very soon.

Don’t tell me to snap out of it – it doesn’t work that way. Just walk with me.

And to the special few: Can I call you in the middle of the night if I am having a really tough time? As soon as they say yes, vow never to do it. Unless you have to.

To your expectations:

Stomp out any thoughts that this will reverse itself and the relationship will come back to life. The chances are slimmer than slim and even if you gave it a try, you would soon remember why you needed to part ways. Everyone sooner or later suffers through this and now it is your turn. Stand up and take it.

Tear your ex off that pedestal you keep trying to construct. See him/her with brutally clear eyes, imperfections and all. Use this information to create a revised account of what would please you in the future. And erase any notions that exceptional good looks have anything to do with character and desirability. That comes from a primitive desire to show off your ability to snag a looker, which has nothing to do with your happiness. Remember the lesson of Charlotte in Sex and the City: a plain partner may be the one worth having. Make a list of the gorgeous people you know and compare them with your desired qualities. Bet they don’t match.

To your self-pity:

Scram. You will weaken me. I am a survivor, not a victim. If I am disillusioned, it means that I just learned that I was illusioned in the first place. If I was trusting when I should have been suspicious, if I was secure when I should have been wary, if I was naïve when I should have been cynical, well, that’s just me and I don’t plan to let this experience take away my nature. If I was true to myself, I will take credit for that and walk away with regret but without self-pity.

To your history:

If your hold over me from my upbringing and prior relationships figured into the destruction of this one, then I have to ask you to loosen your grip on me. I want to go on from here without hauling you around as baggage. I’ll unpack you and keep the best parts, but I’ll leave the junk behind. Don’t try to follow me.

To your mirror:

You look like hell. Look at those bags under your eyes and the vacant stare. But look beyond them. You’ll get through this and you’ll be wiser in the end. There are unexpected gifts waiting for you. You’ll see.

CBH 02/10

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