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