This is not a love story. This is a story about the messiness of heartbreak, the dark and uncertain path that lies in front of us, and the things we learn about ourselves when we’re broken and trying to put ourselves back together again. This is how I moved on from being cheated on.
It began at the end of September at the local county fair. I was on my first date with She-Who-Will-Not-Be-Named. I still remember the excitement and promise of that very night. Up until then, I had been a skeptic. I never believed in love, I hated romantic comedies, and I especially loathed all those cheesy love songs that came on the radio. But after that night, all those songs started to make sense, I started to enjoy rom-coms, and I started to believe. Amazing isn’t it? The things that can happen in one night? Even more staggering are the things that can happen over the course of a relationship. Some people still express genuine shock that we were together for that long and all through our years in high school. But hey, we were “in love.” Aren’t we all during that time of teenage intensity and rebellion?
It was Valentine’s Day when our story came to a brutal and abrupt end. The year before in August I was slated to leave Maui for my first semester of college, which meant trying our hand at a long distance relationship. I’d essentially be away for our upcoming four-year anniversary. But we assured one another that this would only be temporary as She planned to move up with me the following year and we’d live in an apartment together. It sounded so simple, so certain. Our future looked ever so bright and promising. But it was a lie. I called to commemorate our anniversary at the time, but She did not answer. I thought nothing of it. We’d speak tomorrow. What I didn’t know was that She was on a date with Him. At the fair. Where we had our first date. Of course, She did not tell me this right away. I didn’t even know until after Winter Break, months after on Valentine’s Day. Prior til then, we maintained our relationship as best as we could over the phone and through video chat with the hopes of being reunited soon, finally.
The gossip came my way through backchannels with friends of friends. They told me that She and Him had been getting intimate for weeks and that it all started soon after I left for college. Imagine me then, looking like such a fool in front of everyone who knew us. I thought everything was fine. She made me believe so blindly that we were still together, still in love. I grew furious at her and soon at the world because suddenly others were telling me they knew the whole time yet never thought to clue me in. It broke my trust with my own inner circle and forced me to reconsider who was actually in it. I was irreparably confused, then I turned desperate. Mind you, I was thousands of miles away, and I was finding out about all of this over the phone. I didn’t know who was telling the truth, or what the truth was from gossip or the things I wanted to hear. I had to hear it from her. Four years together just wasn’t something I could let go of so easily. I called her and she picked up, finally, only to be put out of my misery when She finally admitted the truth. She loved Him. They were spending Valentine’s Day together. We were done.
This is where the story ends and where my path to recovery begins.
I allowed myself a few days to clear my head. Then, once my mind was rid of all the recent drama I changed my Facebook status, removed her pictures from my bedroom wall, and vowed to never ever speak, hear, contact, or see her ever again. Life was still hard, but it became easier to breathe without being surrounded by reminders of her everywhere. After a break-up, especially after a long relationship, it’s crucial to give yourself some time off. No doubt it has been a long and hectic road, so you owe it to yourself to take a break. Hit pause. Go on a hike. Embark on the open road. Get lost and see the world again. And take as long as you need. You’ve just gone through something so severe and sudden, the stress of it so unimaginable, so really embrace your time off whether it’s a literal escape or just a mental one. I’m in college, mind you, so I had every excuse to focus on my studies, to put my head in the books instead of hitting myself against a wall. Also I had the benefit of making new friends in college, which in a way helped me recover from another breakup of sorts from the friends back home I could no longer trust.
Coming home for the summer, I surrounded myself with family and friends. They made the days go by faster, more manageable. I wasn’t able to stand on my own, so I sought their help to get back on my feet. It felt good to laugh and smile again with people who made it their job to make me laugh and smile again. There were moments where I genuinely forgot all about the break-up, and that made all the difference. It is paramount that you surround yourself with good company. Alone and isolated, you’re allowing yourself to lose control and sink into misery, which will pave the way for doing things you’ll regret. With family and my closest friends, there was trust and support. They kept me busy and with someone at all times. I was sleeping over so often that during the week I was half at home, half crashing on other people’s couches. Basically, whatever my cousins wanted to do, I just went with it. Camping, diving, fishing, surfing, or trying to, or tagging along with their declarations to get in shape. The more time I spent doing stuff with them meant less time pondering fond memories of my ex. I’m the dwelling type, and, take it from me, a summer spent dwelling on an ex is a sad and pathetic cave you don’t want to get stuck in.
Following a very adventurous few weeks, I took time to myself again. This was where I evaluated my relationship with my ex and the reasons for which we broke up. What hurt the most was that she even though she confessed to cheating on me, she never apologized for it. In fact, she made me feel guilty about it claiming I had pushed her into someone else’s arms. There is no resolution in a situation like that. So what did I do? I accepted it. Sometimes it’s best to leave things be, even if it’s laying broken in front of you. Yes, closure is important. But the next best thing is to accept the terms that brought your relationship to an end. I accepted that our relationship ended all due in large part to the fact that she was unfaithful. Now, this part of the process may be the most difficult. You’ll see what went wrong, then you’ll fool yourself into thinking that maybe things could work out if you two had a second chance. Maybe you’ll be more attentive this time, maybe you won’t try long-distance, and maybe this next time will be different, etc. When that happens, remind yourself of the bad times, the arguments, the fights, the heartbreak. It will hurt, as it always does, but you need that pain in order to let go. Remind yourself why the two of you broke up, why you can never be. Like I said, it will hurt. But the sooner you come to terms with the ending, the sooner you can take the steps to move forward.
The next step for me was moving on. The sleepovers ended, the couches had to go back to being living room decor again instead of my choice of bed. I put my head down working a summer job in retail while taking a few online summer courses. I admit, it was awkward trying to find a rhythm again this time without others to guide me. It was like having to find myself all over again. But soon enough, I rediscovered the joys of being single, the limitless potential of being on my own. You will too. See the breakup as an opportunity to get your life back on your own terms. For me, it was great to finally embrace being creative. I became been bold enough, or bored enough, to create this blog, finally, after many months of dragging my feet on this thing. I agree that moving on from a break-up is very difficult. But I’ve found that focusing on yourself is a great way to look past your ex and the break-up. It’s an opportunity for you to seize control of your life and to do something for you. Find some sort of inspiration and use it to fuel your desire to succeed in the world. Eventually, you’ll realize that breaking up with your ex was a path, however painful it may be, that had to happen. That the pain was never about destroying, but learning how to remake yourself at the start of a new chapter.
I’m here writing this now because I know how lonely life can feel at the end of a long and winding relationship. You are not alone. I’ve gone through one of the darkest and most convoluted stages of my life. I know I can’t rid or prevent you from the heartache, but just know that the most important aspect of recovering from a break-up is time. No one heals instantly. To help ease this time just remember that breaking up with someone isn’t the end of the world and it very well isn’t the end for you.
Life can hurl a whole world of hurt coming your way when you least expect it. But every now and then, life can surprise you with a chance to begin again.