I think I was literally a non-feeling zombie for a full month after I broke up with my boyfriend. I would wake up in the morning with the taste of vomit in my mouth and wished I had a job where I could sit at a desk and pretend to work while secretly staring at a blank screen and hating everything about my life. Dramatic I know. Unfortunately, and probably fortunately, I teach a group of rambunctious middle-schoolers which made stilling silent all day in my mythical monster state impossible. I would pep talk myself on the way to work, “you can make it through today, you can make it through today” And in all honesty I did and I thought I was doing a class act job. I would stand in front of the class, act excited about what we were going to do that day. I looked down at myself from my inner zombie state and gave myself a thumbs up and pat on the back. Once they left my class I went back to wallowing in my self pity.
About one week after we broke up I remember actually feeling alive for the first time at work. I was talking about grammar and up there making jokes and smiling, but this time I wasn’t outside of my body looking in, I was inside my body, actually happy and laughing and smiling. One of the students commented: “You’re happy today!”
“I’m always happy,” I replied.
“Nope…last week you were pissed.”
I hadn’t fooled them. How horrible. I hated feeling like I was that transparent. That this horrible thing had happened to me and now I sucked at my job. Sucked at life really. Later that week I got up the courage to go to a party with a friend who had recently gone through a similar experience. I looked around the room. It was filled with guys who were good friends of mine, former crushes, and under any other circumstances this whole gathering would have been perfect. Unfortunately, I hated them all. I hated sitting in that stuffy room and making small talk about their MBA programs. I hated when they complimented me on my glasses I had picked out with my boyfriend. I hated how they didn’t know anything about anything interesting, and more importantly I hated them because they weren’t my ex.
This feeling went beyond parties. I hated talking to my friends and family. My mom would ask me, “how are you doing?” and I would want to scream “HORRIBLE!!!!!!! Why would you even ask that question!” Luckily I’m not fifteen so I wouldn’t. My sister would ask me to go see a movie and I would hate her for even bringing movies up (didn’t she know how much he had liked movies). My favorite people were now my least favorite people because, well I’m not sure why, I just wanted to walk through the town with my arms out, head titled to the side, looking for humans to infect with my zombieness.
Friends would post picture of their engagements and weddings and I would unfollow them. I even had to be a bridesmaid at my friends wedding where I didn’t know anyone, sobbed silently through the ceremony, and had a few “I can’t believe I’m not the embarrassing girl in a romcom right before she meets the perfect guy who loves her even though she is a hot mess” moment with no guy to romantically come in and save me from my miserable self. And you can bet I hated everyone at the wedding.
This was a horrible version of myself. I hated that version of myself. I’ve always been someone who has genuinely enjoyed finding the good in people and I didn’t like that I felt this way. I think part of it is that I resented everyone in the world for not being my ex-boyfriend. I had spent every extra moment of my life with someone I was completely obsessed with. Now what did I have? A room full of people trying to make small talk. Another part was probably a defense. I had just given myself to someone completely and it ended, and that was a crazy lot of pain I never wanted to feel again. So hating people seemed easier…seems easier. But it’s not easier. It sucks too. I had to teach myself to love people again. To accept people for what they were and open myself up to being surprised.
I’d like to say I’m over it and I never feel that way anymore. That would be a lie. I don’t think I am completely back to my old self. I still have moments where I smile but hate that I’m sitting at dinner with a group of people whose only offense it that they are not my ex-boyfriend. But I catch myself and do it less and less.