27 and Divorced, er, Separated
Sometimes, the only way to recover is to be self-destructive – or maybe that’s what hitting rock-bottom is. I’m not entirely certain.
Last Fourth of July, I walked out of a six-year relationship, and while that might not seem like such a long time, it’s an eternity to a 21-year-old who doesn’t remember turning 27. I think age and time periods are grouped and bucketed by one’s constants (events, people, etc.) at the moment, and all the details in the middle are a blur. For me, everything had been in the “we” bucket forever. I didn’t know how to be an “I” anymore, let alone be 27.
So, why did Sam* [*not his real name] and I end? If you had asked me this a year ago, I would have provided you with a list of things – I mean, when you are baffled, you make an actual list of things major and petty (i.e., he didn’t like where I worked, or I was too obnoxious for him or he too serious for me). But truthfully, we were just different.
Two best friends, who had nothing but love for each other, who couldn’t imagine life without each other, who made each other comfortable, who believed in each other, who wanted the best for each other … and simply weren’t the best for each other. I was home to him. He was home to me. We just couldn’t have a home together.
With that said, and with it being my decision to separate, I still wasn’t OK with it. I was depressed. Not sad. Not lost. Depressed. Scared to death. Scared for my life. Suicidal – and suffocating.
You see, for as long as I can remember, I’ve only had a relative few people in my life, by choice, and I liked it that way. Then, all of a sudden, one of them was taken from me. Sure, we made the “adult” decision of letting go, but I was still the girl who lived in an utopia in which this would become “Let’s separate but let’s be friends, best friends, hang out every few days and be a part of each other’s lives.” You know, more or less divorced and not living together, but everything else stays the same.
But reality was quite different. I had left myself there … with him. I had left the obnoxiously loud and happy girl there, and I missed her. So much.
For a very long time, I used to look for that immediate connection – when looking for a new friend or companion – someone who just knew me, and when that person didn’t know me, it all seemed like a waste of time. Why? Because when something drastic happens, you (or at least I) look for a face that says, “It’s going to be okay.” Or a hug. A familiar hug that is yours.
You know what I hated the most following my breakup? A long day. An exciting day. An eventful day. A happy day. They always made me feel so, so empty afterwards. I missed my best friend immensely. I missed the place he filled, and I didn’t like that place being empty. I used to get so scared of coming home most days, because I didn’t know how to predict myself anymore.
I wanted to write how I really felt at those moments, but I don’t think describing them now would do justice to such raw feelings. Here is an excerpt from an email I had written to Sam, a few months into the separation:
“Please don’t think I don’t miss you. I miss you every single moment – I did a few things that I was so proud of when I was in Miami and there is no person I wanted to call but you, because I know you would be so proud of me. Every time I solve a GMAT problem that I had a difficult time doing before, I want to call you. And every single night, I sleep diagonally on my bed. I put the pillow on left side and I put my head on it every single night. I miss you terribly. I miss you when I’m sick; I actually dread being sick because no one knows what I want to eat when I’m sick and this time when I flew in, no one knew what my “coming back from the airport” food is.”
You know what’s funny when looking back at that paragraph? I sleep on the left side of the bed now.
As time passed, I went through a long phase of destructive actions, some I would rather never think about and some completely unspeakable. I’m not sure I even regret them. In fact, to be honest, I needed them. I needed to feel. I had become numb, and I didn’t know how to feel – or at least I thought I didn’t. Crying and feeling hurt served as a reminder that there would be light at the end of the tunnel. There is something good to be said about pain: It reminds you of your core. It shakes you up and makes you act crazy, but brings you back. It brought me back … I think.
Every story has a turning point. I kept looking for my corn, but for me, my corn ended up being a conversation with an old co-worker. Mr. Coworker had sent me this article, and my response to him triggered this statement back: “That was way more well thought-out than what I expected you to say.” And it struck a nerve.
You see, I had always been overly opinionated, and so, what happened? I had stopped talking when I was with Sam. At some point, I had given up. Instead of revolving my life around me, him, us, I had revolved it around avoiding – avoiding discussions, conversations, feelings.
And you know how they say, “One morning you’ll wake up and realize you are over it”? The conversation with Mr. Coworker was that moment for me. I started refocusing on why Sam and I had to end versus focusing on how I missed my best friend. I had spent so much energy the past year wondering why we couldn’t work, and I lost sight of the reasons we had to end.
Sometimes, it’s all about refocusing. Feel, but just don’t fall.
Can I really say I’m all cured? No way. But I can say, confidently, I feel a hell of a lot like Bijal again. I feel determined. I feel again.
What did I learn through all of this?
Remember the core of what makes you, you. You’ll be tested, absolutely, and new experiences will teach you new lessons, but some things are simply at the core of you. All I really had to do was to reconnect with myself. Go home. Be around familiar faces. Be around people who reminded me of me. I had to see Bijal through the eyes of people who loved her.
And some clichés are nothing but true; they’re clichés for a reason. Shit happens. Life goes on. You only learn from mistakes, so never regret anything. What’s meant to be will be. (Most of those AIM profile quotes are sadly true! Ew.)
I also had to learn to accept the cycle of things. I had go through it all to recover. One of the best things I did for myself was to not force myself out of any part of the “process.” It was a rough and scary road, but as I finished each cycle, I grew up – and all of a sudden I was 27.
P.S. Hey, Bijal, I missed you.