You’ve sat in your bed watching reruns of Sex and the City and scooping down pints of Ben & Jerry’s with your best friend on frigid winter nights. You’ve finished a bottle of Merlot before 7 p.m. and cried outside of a bar, sitting on the sidewalk at two in the morning. You’ve done the mourning, the sulking, and you’ve been through all the various emotional stages of post-breakup behavior. You cleared it out of your system like you rightfully should, but now it’s time to move on from the unfortunate past. You have years ahead of you, unfulfilled journeys to continue, and unexpected experiences to take on and overcome.
You’ve realized that unlike a few months ago, you aren’t checking your ex’s Facebook page or even thinking about the glorious days you spent together last summer. You aren’t asking your friends if they passed by him or her last weekend, or if they even had the nerve to ask how you are doing. Whether it was an amicable breakup or the closest thing to a living hell you can ever imagine, you have finally realized that life moves on. That person is no longer hovering over your mind throughout the day, and you may have even met someone that helped swerve your thoughts into a brighter, healthier direction. Things have finally started to feel fresh. Things have finally started to feel less dark inside and out.
But sometimes the hardest part about recovering from a breakup is not even the person at all. If your ex cheated on you, it shouldn’t take a psychotherapist to explain to you that that person is an unconditional douchebag. In my experiences, most times you give this unfaithful partner a second chance; they only repeat the same behavior in an effort to fool you once again. Sometimes, you breakup because your assumed “best friend” was in fact only, a best friend. The physical attraction was never there or it just unfortunately faded away. Whatever other reason(s) that may have caused the breakup are lessons learned and made for us to pocket away and remember for future experience. And for some of us, breakups aren’t even that much of a struggle.
The real struggle lies within recovering from the ‘things’ and ideas that have become virtually attached to your ex-lover. Months or even years after all the damage is done, it’s less likely that you find yourself still daydreaming about their face or laugh or smile just out of the blue, compared to the raw weeks of post-breakup. It’s when ‘that song’ comes on the radio, your heart melts. Your arms grow cold and chills travel through your spine as if they are sitting in the passenger seat next to you, rubbing their fingers up and down your shaken hands. It’s when your friends want to try out the happy hour menu at that restaurant where you went on your first date. You re-experience the nervousness of getting dressed that night, picking out an outfit that you hoped would make them fall in love with you. It’s when you grab a pair of earrings to put on and realize it was the gift they got you for your birthday. It’s not even about them anymore. It’s about all the things lingering around that just rehash the past.
Sometimes it can even rehash the bad times, too. My eyes would light up seeing a fresh bouquet of flowers delicately tied together resting in an elegant vase on an office coffee table, or even just newly blooming on the side of the road on a spring afternoon. Flowers once meant beauty, honesty, and charm. Yet after the numerous instances of uncontrolled and intense fighting at three in the morning, flowers would consistently appear at my door. I would receive them at work or resting on my kitchen table when I got back to my apartment. Flowers only started to appear to me as a plea for forgiveness and a, “Give me another chance.” And of course, I always did.
It’s difficult now because I don’t view a batch of flowers as such a beautiful thing anymore. It reminds me of the times I fell for this tempting weakness, hoping that everything would be different. It reminds me of the fights that included words that hurt more than any type of physical discomfort I’ve ever experienced. It was a temporary Band-Aid that was always stripped away after a few peaceful days. Flowers started to grow meaningless and unappreciated. All I wanted was for things to change, to get better—to recover. I once believed that those roses could heal and build a brighter future. I don’t gaze at blooming flowers like a fresh glimpse of sunshine. I look at every bouquet of flowers as lost and drunken hopes.
I’m trying to believe that maybe the things and memories are never supposed to go away, though. Maybe ‘that’ song you two once proclaimed as yours is supposed to always be a consistent memory. I think it’s about transforming the memories that make you grow sad, cold, or lonely inside into something different. Most of the time, the struggles that we stumble upon throughout life aren’t as bad as we make them out to seem. We look at a missed job opportunity and think that nothing else will ever come our way. A broken relationship is the end of the world—will someone else ever step into our lives again and care as much as they once did? I don’t want to look at flowers anymore and think of pain, suffering, and broken apologies. I don’t want to listen to ‘that’ song and grow teary-eyed reminiscing on joyful times, believing that no other person can create such glistening prospects.
There will be new songs, new objects, and new memories that will soon fall into your life. They may never wash away the things about your past, but they will create new sparks of light that will guide your mind into a brighter direction. You can’t change the way the past played out. All you can do is change the way you think about it.