I got dumped recently. The out-of-nowhere, wtf-just-happened, blind-sided, whiplash kind of break-up I never saw coming. He had just come back to bed early on a Saturday morning; he had a friend waiting on him to go surfing and I had to be a yoga teacher training in 15 minutes, and I thought it was sweet that he made the extra cuddle time... When he asked, "Can we talk about something? I don't know how you've been feeling about how things are going between us..." I actually thought he was about to ask to be my boyfriend. We had been seeing a lot of each other over the last few weeks (remember my Relationship Revelation? yeah, same guy), and I felt like things were going well between us. After all, the last time I had seen him a few days earlier he asked me straight up if I wanted a boyfriend. I told him I would like that, if it's a good fit. He looked me dead in the eyes and said "I think we could be a good fit," a statement that made me all-a-flutter at the time, and painfully confused in hindsight.
Imagine my surprise when, as my head rests on his chest amidst the dreamy clouds of my down comforter, he tells me that it's not 100% a good fit, and he thinks it's for the best if we don't see each other anymore. I guess I wasn't expecting perfection in a budding relationship. Maybe I should be.
But this isn't a story about a break-up. It's a story about realizing how much we can grow between break-ups, and how sometimes it takes things falling apart for us to realize how much more 'together' we've actually become as individuals since that last time we got hurt.
It's been a long time since I've been dumped, and never had I ever been dumped quite like this. It was BRUTAL. The worst relationship dismount of all time (for me, personally). But what makes this break-up truly unique doesn't have anything to do with his delivery, and everything to do with my recovery. The silver lining around getting knocked down is that it shows us how quickly we can bounce back.
There was a time not long ago when a break-up like this would have knocked me flat on my ass. No way would I have made it to yoga teacher training that day, let alone in the 5 minutes I had between showing him out and leaving my house. I would have shut myself off to the outside world, forgone all responsibilities in the name of heartbreak, bawled uncontrollably, gotten high, or drunk, or both, and wallowed in my own self pity for days on end. This used to be the kind of thing that would put me over the edge and straight in to the Dark Side.
Not this time. I rallied. I chose to accept the pain and live life anyway. I made it through all four hours of teacher training; not because if I hadn't gone I would have failed the course, but because I would have failed myself. Sure, I cried through all 5 minutes of our break, and totally broke down at the end of class, but I was there. And let's be honest, if you're going to have a breakdown in public, a yoga studio might be the best place to do it! I was instantly surrounded by wise, heart-warming words, hugs and support from all angles. It was amazing, and I wouldn't have been able to receive all that love had I taken the low road to Breakdown Boulevard.
After class I could have done anything I wanted with the rest of my day. The world was my oyster, and I could have choked on it had I wanted to. I seriously considered it, too. I thought about closing the blinds, binging on mac 'n cheese and ice cream, getting back in bed and feeling sorry for myself for the rest of the day as a reward for having made it to the studio that morning.
But then I thought, what kind of reward is feeling all kinds of awful? That's dumb.
Instead I took a shower, literally washed that man right outta my hair, and put one foot in front of the other. Again, literally. I walked for three straight hours, and it felt like every step was one tiny little victory in the face of turmoil. I hadn't set out to go anywhere in particular, but I ended up at the end of the pier right at twilight, and got to watch one of the most amazing sunsets I've ever seen as the sun settled directly between the arches of the Golden Gate Bridge right in front of me. It was a truly breathtaking moment, and I would have never experienced it if I had continued in my old ways of coping, i.e. isolation, lethargy, junk food and dulling my feelings with booze and weed.
This break-up incited so much more than just the usual (and totally natural!) feelings of pain, confusion and insecurity - it allowed me to feel proud of myself and how far I've come since the last time a relationship didn't work out. I had no idea how strong and resilient I had grown, and I would still be unaware of my fortitude had I not experienced not only the break-up itself, but my true, undiluted, unabridged feelings arising as a result.
Break-ups suck, but breakdowns are only one of countless ways of coping with them. We can all surprise ourselves by electing a different (and likely more effective) healing mechanism next time we get hurt - maybe yours is practicing yoga, playing to music, or cooking a healthy meal for yourself. Whichever means you choose, I invite you to get through your next hardship by rewarding yourself with the gift of taking care of yourself in a way that actually makes you feel better, not worse! You might be surprised how much you've grown in to your best self in the process.