My Post-Breakup Journey After Ending an 8-Year Relationship


Man, what a year. 2016 – I mean, really?  

However, I’m not only talking about the election – I’ve tried to live a life sans drama  – and in reflection, the last few years have been quite the opposite. I tend to be a bit of a hermit on social media – I am one of those extroverted introverts who likes her memories kept in her head for herself and who prides herself on being overly independent – so, this sharing thing is a little out of my comfort zone.

I am currently sitting in my backyard with the soundtrack of Baz Luhrmann’s Romeo + Juliet blaring in an attempt to wake up all the feels inside, to get me to write this article.

It was quite a year, one of the best I have ever had – and yet, none of this would have been possible without letting go of the love of my life – my partner of eight years, who grew up down the street from me. I literally don’t remember a time that I haven’t known him. But, we got bad. Our time was up.

It’s really hard walking toward a new life that you want, while leaving a life you have spent nearly a decade creating, in the past. But more than that, it’s hard walking away from a great love. Even when you know it’s not the best love for you now or ever.

As a result, I left Minneapolis as often as possible and told everyone it was for fun, or for work – but in truth, it was because I felt like I couldn’t breathe walking my dog to Five Watt (the best coffee shop in town) every morning and grilling in my backyard every night. I didn’t know how to exist by myself, living in all of the memories.

This breakup, which I can fortunately say was the hardest thing I have ever been through in my life, came with creating a whole new world and acknowledging to “my people” that my perfect life was in fact quite the opposite.

But, hey. Life goes on and it eventually hit me – it’s time to make a new one.

So, I ran all over the world – all year.  Collecting new and incredible souls while avoiding my home and finding what made the new me tick… and when I had to be home – I threw all my moments, good and bad, into creating a new version of my work (good thing I’m a creative, right?).

It’s the best thing I have ever done.

It gave me a pass to do literally, whatever I wanted for a year – in fact, I feel like the people closest to me have given me an extension on this pass – which is amazing and insane.

Granted, this pass didn’t always evoke the most responsible decisions to be made and I’ll leave those stories out of this article, thanks. But, in general – all the wild decisions I made ended up being great for me.

For example, as soon as I got out of bed, which was around two and a half weeks post d-day, I instantly bought a ticket to Switzerland and left the next day to go hiking and biking and crying with my best friend. Should I instead have stayed home and called my clients back? Definitely. But, I couldn’t (sorry), so I didn’t, and my week in the mountains got me to stop listening to The National’s “Trouble will find me” album on repeat and I started eating again. Note: I wrote this a few day’s ago and I am now editing this with that album in my earbuds – it’s just too good to quit.

I became a regular at the Driftwood Char Bar (a divey motorcycle establishment), which is right down the street from my house. Keep in mind, I refused to go here for the last five years – but sitting outside eating grilled cheese and drinking Coors Light with a bunch of nonjudgmental new faces was all I wanted to do roughly three times a week, so that is what I did. Most of my friends still aren’t thrilled about this dining recommendation when I bring it up, but they are definitely coming around.

I made a new best friend and we decided that the only way to move on with our lives based on our breakups was to make a toile telling the story of our experience together and paint it on a wall in my condo… and then paint the same toile on each other, naked, and take pictures in front of the wall. There is not a day in my life that I would have ever done this before that day. But, good thing we were both out of our minds because we ended up accidentally launching a company, as a result, called She She.

I joined the apps – yeah, those apps. I went on nine dates in seven days, just ripped the band-aid right off. Then I was exhausted and got off of the apps. I still talk to a few of those patient, sweet men. It’s an absolute miracle they didn’t all run for the hills as fast as possible, which is proof that good people are out there.

I reached out to people I looked up to and asked them for help creating my new life. I realized that being humble and honest makes you look good, not bad. Around 70% of my relationships weren’t real and I distanced myself from giving my energy to a huge network of people and instead told the truth and developed deeper relationships with those who remembered the old me and weren’t uncomfortable that I was becoming her again, alone.

(Fast forward a year.)

I still leave Minneapolis probably more than I should, but I only go to the Char Bar once a month. Baby steps.

Thanks to dedicating my entire shopping budget to bi-weekly therapy sessions and doing whatever my yogi guru, Jan tells me to do, my life has turned around – even the parts of my life that aren’t where I want them to be are better than where they were a year or two ago.

Along with therapy and Jan, it is without a doubt a result of waking up every day and forcing myself to do all the things that made me feel like my skin was on fire. Yeah, it was a whole year of me walking around, eyes wide, feeling so vulnerable and afraid that I knew I was breathing but felt like I was holding my breath. And now, I’m good.

The moral of the story is that the adventure of starting over, or getting to the point where I could start over was a lot of fun. It’s better to appear to be alone than to actually feel alone. It’s better to feel whole on the inside even if it makes you look broken on the outside. If you have to take a year off from the path you were on to figure this out, it’s worth it.

Photos by 2ndTruth and Jenny Jorgensen


Jennifer Jorgensen is an Interior Architect, Designer, and Co-Founder of  She She, a wallpaper company. In her spare time,  she focuses on the local art scene and frequently heads to the Walker Art Center to give tours. She’s also helping to launch a new contemporary art space, Platform Mpls. All additional time is spent watching New Girl re-runs with her miniature Pekingese, the King of Kingfield, Gremlin Jorgensen.

    • hey, rose! you know, i’m hearing what you’re saying. i left all sorts of flavor out of this piece for all sorts of reasons. if you have gone through something and you were hoping to hear more “tough stuff” that you could relate to, I am more than happy to chat offline. if you can dream it, i probably experienced it. hope you’re doing well and hopefully a future post sits better with you.

  • I loved this story. Yes to giving yourself permission to fall apart, and be vulnerable, and not give a rat’s ass what other people think of your decisions. You are the only person who knows what you need. Props to you for doing what you had to do to heal. And thank you for sharing.

    • hey, sloan. not caring is one of the most difficult things to conquer… but, it is so rewarding once you get there! thank you for your feedback and have a fun day!

  • This rocks and came along at the perfect time. I, too, found myself on the other end of an 8 year relationship this past spring and have been struggling to navigate singledom (completely uncharted territory). Nice to know I’m not alone.

  • “I am one of those extroverted introverts who likes her memories kept in her head for herself and who prides herself on being overly independent”…

    Me too.

  • I loved this post so very, very much. Your personality, your journey, your sense of humour — basically, you — come out so vividly in every word. And, as I am sure many of us do, I can relate to your story so much. I ended a 5-year relationship a couple of years ago, one that I had begun and formed immediately upon moving to a foreign country. So I was not only saying goodbye to my only family, but I was saying goodbye to the only life I had known abroad. It’s such a weird, exhilarating, depressing, moving, self-learning time. Please keep sharing your story, as it’s one we love to hear.

  • “It’s better to appear to be alone than to actually feel alone. It’s better to feel whole on the inside even if it makes you look broken on the outside. If you have to take a year off from the path you were on to figure this out, it’s worth it.”

    This. Yasss! Thank you for sharing your very relate-able story. I myself am “starting over” following the ending of an 11 year relationship (4 of them married). It’s been one of the most challenging but also rewarding years of my life like you say.

  • Excellent story and very gratifying you share it with us, because facing life after a disappointment is not for anyone, you are a person of very attitude and a very strong personality, looked at the best possible, my congratulations … And Not to mention that his work is magnificent.

  • Powerful piece. Those first couple of paragraphs were hard, and I felt like I could feel the heartbreak through the internet. Thank you for sharing your journey – it seems like you’ve made an amazing transformation of yourself. I am sending this to my friend who is going through a breakup after 10 years together, and I hope your experience will help inspire her to heal and grow. I also sent her your article about all the dates! <3

    http://www.shessobright.com

  • I think you are one year ahead of me… when I can see the ending on the horizon most days. funny, how all I knew I needed was to leave and run as fast as I could to all the corners of the world. but being a SAHM to two little ones with a husband who is gone mostly … wasn’t in the cards. your blog is an inspiration. I finally pulled the trigger on my many year plan of blogging and am in the midst of setting one up right now. Good luck <3
    Sylvia, fellow Minnesotan (st paul)