Sunday, April 12, 2009

Breaking Up

At the HerStory premiere I mentioned how HerStory was created for celebrating all moments of a woman's life; from the darker moments to the lighter moments, and all the moments in between. HerStory is about appreciating everything that occurs in our lives which allow all things to become a balm to our hearts. By looking at circumstances, and accepting them whole heartedly, we allow them to teach us lessons, and grow us, instead of humiliating us into hiding away from the world. Appreciating all occurrences simply looks like feeling them to the bone, and not running from the joy, sorrow, peace, chaos they bring us. If we don't fully feel this moment, we are doomed to repeat it, or simply not retain all the nutrients from it.

Something I have not talked about, though I see it as usually a cornerstone to the college experience, is breaking up, and doing it respectfully vs. cruelly. I think college has this reputation for being really cool, and for giving us the permission to rotate people in and out of our lives, and beds, as if people are simply game pieces. I spoke a little on this, on the encouragement the college life gives you to be "sexually free" (meaning not emotionally attached to your sexual partner), and then to have numerous sexual experiences in order to "truly live." But are these motto's truly worthy of our actions? What is the result of this sort of living?

One way in which these beliefs manifest in our lives is through the utilization of drugs. I'll explain the connection in a minute. First we can think about why do people binge, stay up all night, party really hard, wake up in their own vomit? There has to be something that everyone is trying to cope with, and in order to not feel the weight of pain, we turn to substances and a lot of sexual experiences to distract us from what our hearts are doing. Why do we have to distract ourselves? Why are we afraid to feel? Because feeling can be too much, especially when you commit one of the most offensive crimes: falling in love in college.

Why is falling in love too much? Simply because we may find ourselves without that person, and that pain can be excruciating. Therefore we try not to feel it so we can still function in every day society, still go to class, and be somewhat focused on the tasks at hand. But like I mentioned above, not feeling a break up can lead to a lot of destructive behavior.

I went to see Hamlet last night in the city, and on the walk to the theatre I saw a sign infront of a church. The jest of it was that people are living to mend themselves. Meaning all we are doing is trying to heal, trying to be okay, trying to feel good, trying to experience happiness. There's no harm in that. But in order to feel joy we have to experience fully the other side of it, and not run from it no matter how haunting it is.

If we allowed ourselves to feel what it feels to break up (with someone like your best friend), we would feel a swarm of emotions that don't stop and threaten to make you handicap from relationships forever. Before I talk about the positive ways of coping, I'm going to talk more about the negative aspects of coping because they seem to be the most rampant. We already talked about drug usage, and alcohol usage. But there is also the temptation, like mentioned above, to start viewing people as caves without meaning or feelings and therefore remove yourself from the responsibility of a.) being kind to people b.) being emotionally available to them. This can look like having a slew of one night stands, or simply not being invested (not putting your future into) another person you find, but only using them as a distraction from the one before. These options only heap on more pain to the already sore wounds, and create a numbness and emptiness where there could be joy and thankfulness.

So what can you do to cope healthily with a break up? I mean, say you do decide to be in a serious relationship in college, and not only do you invest your feelings, but you decide to be in a relationship with your best friend. This brings on a new level of pain in a break up, then if you decided to date a random joe shmo who looks nice in trousers and smells okay. I've been told that no one should EVER date their best friend, due to the fact that someone your dating should become your best friend after you are dating them. Though I think we are really forced into it. For in friendship we are usually not allowed to tell someone that we love them, we also can't press our hands over someone's heart or hold their face if and when they are precious. It's not fair, really. All I know is that for some reason when you date someone, you are automatically consenting to the fact that you a.) could lose them in most ways b.) never speak to them again with the same connection you had before. If you are smart, you will not risk losing such a valuable asset in your life, but if you're me, and a couple of others around, you will try it (a couple of times) simply due to the level of emotional intimacy you can acheive with that person.

I said I was going to talk about the healthy ways of coping, but I lied. First I'm going to talk about recognizing when there needs to be a break up, and finding the strength to do it.

I know many a girl (and guy) who goes through a lot of pain in a relationship simply because they think it's a normal part of a relationship, and also because he/she doesn't really know anything else.

Great quote that speaks on this sort of thing from must read book called The Rules: It is a spiritual axiom that when you feel someone slipping away, let them go.

He/She allows a relationship to go from healthy to possessive, simply out of fear of losing the person. This is ludicrous as a relationship is supposed to bring you to the next level of joy, rather then deepening your sorrow, and it's supposed to make you feel healthy instead of broken and crazy. Recognizing that there is continual problems, and continual pain again and again means that one or both parties has to cut off the romantic part of the relationship, and/or change drastically (which usually doesn't happen when two people are still together, biting at eachother). This does not occur with ease or joy, as one or both parties may still have emotional ties to the other in which only serve to intensify the time of separation.

What can you do if you recognize the divide, though you are too afraid to let the other person go?
It doesn't matter if you are breaking up with someone, or planning to do it, the other can sense your discord with them long before. It is better to do it quickly, and to remain true to the decision, regardless of any other circumstances (loneliness, missing the person in general, or not wanting to hurt that person because they don't want to let you go romantically). For if you change your mind, and then change it again, you are only creating more pain within the other person's heart, and your own, while your creating a multitude of memories that can poison all the happy memories. That is why many people stay in a relationship, even if they experience extreme unhappiness, because they do not want to hurt the other person, nor do they want to experience the emptiness that will prevail once they have let the other person go. Those in which are broken up with may seem more brave, or more loving, because they don't want to be out of the relationship, however they simply may just have a higher tolerance of pain and unhappiness, or a severe fear of being alone and under appreciated by everyone else in their lives.

Now, when I say do it quickly, I mean it is helpful to do it as fast as humanly possible, or you will eventually say a slew of things that are cruel and unhelpful in order to remove yourself from the romantic aspect of the relationship. For example, if you begin ending the relationship respectfully and lovingly, yet go back on your word, it will result in extreme measures that you will go to in order to end the relationship. If you continue to talk to an ex right after you have broken up with them, you both will say things that usually only kill due to the amount of pain you both are experiencing. Breaking up is difficult enough, but when it isnt really done, or only done half way, it can hurt even more and bring true dishonor to one or both people.

If you're like me, it is very difficult letting a romantic relationship go, even if you are unhappy half of the time, or recognize that the relationship isn't truly helpful to you or to the other person (You have different concepts of things people in relationship should agree on such as school, drugs, God, etc, etc, etc.) You are willing to trudge through the depths of despair to simply spare the other person's monetary feelings. But this "sparing of feelings" is no sparing at all because staying in a relationship that is hurting you only makes you untrustworthy to the other person as they can tell, in one way or another, that you are forcing yourself to be content with the relationship. No one wants to feel like they have to convince the other person to love them, but if you are in a position where you don't want to be, you force the other person into the role of "woo-er" simply because you're not 100% in it anymore.

Breaking up can be explained quite well through many quotes in the play "Hamlet", which was so beautifully delievered last night. Hamlet laments over Ophelia's death, "Forty thousand brothers could not with all their quantity of love make up my sum." This is a natural feeling for one or both people in a break up, and this can easily drive one or both people mad by its significance. What do people do with these feelings that don't automatically evaporate simply because you decide that being in a romantic relationship is not healthy for you both? I'm not quite sure. I'd like to say they ease with time, though I've known people who feel even more intense about significant others AFTER they have broken up with them. They think of all the ways they could have loved them better, and they fix their thoughts on lists of actions they might have taken to preserve the relationship. For the positive memories you shared seem to be hanging in time that is unreachable, yet still very much alive in your mind's eye. What a torturous part of existing! I'd like to say that if the love is healthy, and if only one or usually both people need to mature in order to better love the other, then the love relationship would continue eventually. Though that could be something we all say in order to console ourselves from the ending of something that was very much real in our lives.

Earlier in the play, before the death of Ophelia, Hamlet is outraged with her. He throws her around the room, slams her on the stage, shakes her and spits at her. This is because she has wronged him. He finds his actions suitable because he feels that she did something first that roused his anger. Later he cooly holds her hand, "This prologue is brief, like a woman's love." I have never heard a more cutting statement in my life. Well I probably have, but this is a very effective line in the play, and an understanding of relationships in general. It is a horrible feeling to know that someone loved you, who no longer loves you in the same way they did before. Or to think they are still capable of loving you in the way they used to. Can we actually fall out of love with someone? Is that why breaking up is so difficult because perhaps feelings are still there, though the reality that the feelings are not helping anyone, is also there? That is why it is best to not string someone along simply because you feel like you are still in love with someone, even if they are not the person you thought, or you feel like you shouldn't be in a relationship with them.

Also, if you are looking to not tear the person in a million pieces, it is best to listen to Shakespeare again when he says, "Brevity is the soul of wit." If you decide and then change your decision to break up with someone, you are bound to give reasoning that is needless and only painful in order to better explain why you believe a relationship is not healthy for you at the present moment. You will say things that are simply dishonorable, that you can never retract. That is why it is best to not give someone a fifteen minute speech of why you feel you shouldn't be in a relationship with them, but to make it simple and kind. Again if you do this sloppily you will create needless pain in you and your friend, and again not only change how that person views you (for good), but also deal with your own guilt that no one can absolve but yourself.

I was thinking the other day about my body, and how it's the only thing I can trust to get me to places, but it also doesn't always come through for me. This feeling in which our words, thoughts, and actions don't always help situations is embittering and can lead to depression if we don't feel the weight of these disturbing realities.

So, what does feeling the weight mean? What does it look like? For both people involved in a break up (well, in my recent experience) it can feel completely and utterly humiliating, and quite deflating. That is why a lot of people don't allow themselves this sadness or emptiness, because of what it does to their actions. For example, you may find yourself driving without your headlights on, and being pulled over by the cops who think you're drunk, when simply, you're heart broken and you didn't realize they were off because you were busy feeling like shit (but that is not a good excuse, supposedly). You also may hug your friends too long, or find that parting with them for only a couple of days is too painful and that you need someone to call at 3am in the morning, still. You may also cry when food shopping, and write down really bad poetry. If you are able to keep yourself from any sort of substance, you may also find yourself replaying your actions and words, the good and bad, over and over until you can't anyalze yourself anymore or your heart and head might explode (which wouldn't help anything in the long run). I warn against substances (sex, alcohol, drugs, food, or the absence of it) because it can prolong the pain, and all of this head stuff that happens that allows us freedom from the pain of the feeling that we're losing some world that we created with this person. You may talk to your friends about the complete Neandrathalic behavior of your ex, and find that you are completely dignified in all (or most of your actions). You may cringe over what your ex's friends and family are saying about you, and how they might be right. If you're dignified you don't utter a word of meanness about them, which in case you are better than most people. Either way hopefully you have the gift of loved ones that listen to you, and will fight for you if only in speech. You will probably call, text, or e-mail this person apologies, or other probably unhelpful things that will only further intensify your missing for this person. Hopefully you can eventually stop it and let the quiet permeate between you that will hopefully pave the way for a new relationship that doesn't require any of the old pain. You will not want to listen to good music that makes you happy, or sad, or anything at all, but only music that is stupid and frivolous and doesn't require you to think, or to feel a thing (like Madonna's 80's tunes). You may watch too many movies, or not get enough sleep, but eventually you let yourself be happy again, and figure out what that looks like when it doesn't require a relationship with anyone outside of yourself. Hopefully you do not deny the friendship with that person, as you may be letting go one of the most valuable relationships you will ever have. But we all have to do what we have to do in order to survive. You write hate mail, and you really believe it, and you hate yourself for believing it but knowing that you would take the person back immediately if things were different. You hate yourself. That's a big one. Whether you are breaking up with someone, or being broken up with, you still hate yourself for not being congruent and consistent in your actions in some way, for either lying to yourself, to that person, or saying or doing things you wish you hadn't. This is inevitable and only stops with work towards self forgiveness, healing, and whiskey (okay not so much whiskey, usually). You think of all the millions of things that you love about that person, still, that you're not willing to let go just yet. That you might eventually, but you don't want to as you feel living without loving those things would just be a stark half life that would make you nauseous in the morning and inconsolable at night. And finally, you cry, you cry like hell and you don't tell anyone most of the time, and you slam walls and get angry. For the person you would go to when you cry like this is unreachable at the moment, for you both are broken up indefinitely. You wonder whose going to notice your snort, or ask you how you feel about your father's words, or gasp for breath after listening to one of your songs swooning as if you're something huge (they think you are, or at least used to). You think this space in your life is going vacant, and you don't want anyone else to take it at least not within the next ten years. Just like in grieving over the death of a loved one, you try to learn how to see things without them, and go without the usual daily banter that you are used to. Hopefully this is not the end of your ties with this person, but only the beginning of a healthier life together in the future.


Other advice on breaking up.

1 comment:

wemusntdespair said...

this was a gem of an article, thank you for posting it.