You are (why you are) here.
It took me 6 months to get to the point where I even knew what was going on — I was a zombie.
My friend Joe Peacock described it as “the ringing in your ears when a bomb goes off next to your head”.
I think that is a period which happens to most people, and Gary’s answer captured the things you should do. Let your autopilot take over some things — you know how to get to the store, fix some meals, job search (I lost my job at the same time) or just get by.
However, I can tell you what you should not do based on what I did that made things worse or made it last longer:
I didn’t talk to anyone about my insides. I had my therapist, but don’t even remember what we discussed. I think I would always get philosophical or yogic about it “Love will find a way in another life” or other stuff that doesn’t help me in ~this~ life. My previous post was about this. My friends (word to your Gnome) were there at key moments, but they couldn’t know and couldn’t literally drag me out of the house. Texts came in at the right time. A message — sometimes just a ❤ — or an invite to a show or knowing I had an open opportunity for dinner. They were all there, but needed my response, and I clammed up so hard I should have shit diamonds.
I let myself get into the worst loops. Basically building impossible scenarios and pretending I’m writing A Song of Ice & Fire about them.
“I’m screwed up and I’ll never get out”.
“The only thing I could want would be to go back to how it was.”
“I’m so fucked up that even if I get over it, I’ll having this hole forever.”
“And forget ever finding love again”
“How am I supposed to clean if I can’t get out of bed?”
This is why talking to others can help, because they’re not in it, and why a therapist matters, because they’re paid to not be in it, and it doesn’t complicate personal crap. A book we were told to read in counseling courses in college was The Professional Stranger. That sounds bad, but it’s exactly what is needed sometimes. I don’t think any of my friends who are friends with my ex- are deeply biased for/against either of us, but I know the personal ‘urf’ of trying to support someone hurting in relation to someone else I care about.
I made decisions which both kept me in that mindset and did long damage or backtracking. My eating turned to crap. Until June, I hadn’t worked out in a year. I drank a bunch more. I got intoxicated in general more, some of which I shouldn’t have done at all because of my mind state.
I feel I must put more emphasis on drinking. Alcohol is a depressant. It shows not only in hangovers or getting maudlin while drunkenly discussing the past like Tom Waits, but drinking has a measurable impact on emotional state over time.
I’ve finally gotten to the point where I try to only drink for a reason — one drink with dinner is fine. More than that, only rarely and for a purpose. I’ve had fun at group outings/trips or dates because it was a decision, and giving myself plenty of rest and water to counter the impact. I never really needed that after work drink that became a habit. This isn’t consistent because I still fuck up and have no real obligation beyond myself, but it has helped in the most on a daily basis.
Some of this, I have to recognize as ‘What People Do When Their World is Shattered’ and not beat myself up over them, but being aware of some of this can help ease some of the harder edges and not make harmful choices, as I did. Having to accept that time is required, there are probably no short-cuts, but you can make it smoother and also not make it worse.
See if there’s a tiny nudge you can give yourself sometimes when you feel like staying home when invited somewhere so you’ll be social (on whatever level) just a smidge more. This has been 9/10 of my social life in the past year — if I’ve been outside of my house, it has been so much effort — but it has been so worth it not only because I stewed less, I’ve gotten to know some really fucking stellar people, who in turn have been there for me — even without talking much sometimes. Just being around, being human, letting laughter take you. Some have helped because we’ve shared. Some having said magical things and I don’t think they even knew my situation. And some because they’ve been kind, open and fun to be around — oh yeah, fun! That is a thing that happens.
If you decide to not be social, that is fine, you need this, too. Be aware if you’re doing this to focus on the worst scenarios, consider trying some small touch — invite someone you trust over to watch a movie, go to their place to visit their cat, have a nice lunch, go sit in a park and read. Or fuckit, bawl your eyes out.
There are a few quotes which have helped me. Yes, quotes can sound trite, especially only, but I think of them as anchor points in the bullshit and static:
Remember: Oppression thrives off isolation.
Connection is the only thing that can save you.
Remember: Oppression thrives on superficiality.
Honesty about your struggles is the key to your liberation.
Remember: Your story can help save someone’s life.
Your silence contributes to someone else’s struggle. Speak so we all can be free. Love so we all can be liberated. The moment is now.
We need you.” -Yolo Akili
Our connections over shared pain means we can know and trust a little bit more — this is acquired wisdom. My breakup can’t compare with yours or someone else’s trauma, but there’s a common place we can meet and battle scars from something that tried to kill us — and failed.
“For each person there is a sentence — a series of words — which has the power to destroy him … another sentence exists, another series of words, which will heal the person.
If you’re lucky you will get the second; but you can be certain of getting the first: that is the way it works.
On their own, without training, individuals know how to deal out the lethal sentence, but training is required to deal out the second.” — Phillip K Dick
Two weeks ago was the one year mark. Some days, I wake up and expect to hear her getting ready for work. Others, there’s just the void.
But sometimes, the way the sun comes in, the way my friends laugh or you connect with someone over a trivial little story, and it’s not what was, but it’s something.
And lastly, something that has reminded me that this is not fucking easy — in the face of anyone who tells us to just get over it, including my own fucking ego, or that I’m not worth it.
This is your life. This is your fucking life. — Nicole Blackman
No joke. I repeat it to myself every morning. It’s what has provoked me to meditate when I do. Love yourself like your life depends on it. As best as we can tell, it’s what we get, and in the midst of all of this I really understand those who give up. You are why you are here, and you’ve what you got.
I don’t know what being “good” again really means, but this is better than it was. Hope is assuming there is some trajectory from there.