What Quarantine Taught Me About Moving On From Heartbreak

You were my first love.

We broke up a week before Valentine’s Day, it was sudden but not a complete shock. You broke my trust and betrayed me. I knew I had to end things between us but I still loved you and was confused. My whole world flipped upside down that first month apart. I was paralyzed and for the first time, I finally understood what it meant to be truly heartbroken. Feeling a deep pit in my chest and stomach, making me sick, not being able to eat, sitting and staring at a wall dissecting every single part of absolutely everything. Having my confidence shattered, getting so down on myself that I couldn’t imagine myself ever being confident, sexy, or funny enough because you made it clear that you didn’t want me anymore and wanted someone else. Trying to unlearn a person who was so ingrained in my everyday life and now, a stranger who left me clueless about how to fill the gap they suddenly made.

The second month was a different story – I started going out with friends regularly, dating, having sex again, dancing all night, booking endless amounts of travel. I was following the textbook rules of the typical post-breakup road to recovery. On the outside, I seemed fine, yet I still didn’t have the courage to consider writing about it until 6 months later. Why? Because the feelings of heartbreak were still there, they were just temporarily masked with distractions. I didn’t take the time to process how I was feeling outside of those things that kept me so busy. It went a lot deeper than I thought it ever could, and COVID lockdown was the start of what I now know to be some of the most difficult yet redeeming days of my life.

When quarantine started shortly after my short stint of quasi-single girl bliss, the rug was ripped out from under me and I was forced to sit with my thoughts without places to go, people to see, or activities to occupy myself with. I was suddenly sent back to that self-deprecating headspace where I started to question everything wondering where we went wrong. I started to get that dreadful pit back in my stomach that I was so desperately trying to run away from. You had power over me once again and it made me fucking angry. I was working my way out, WHY am I back here? 

Throughout the lockdown, everything that I buried down began to resurface. The duality of my emotions started to reveal themselves. One part of me missed you with every fiber of my being but the other part of me replayed all of your lies, emotions you hid from me, red flags I brushed off over the years. I kept flashing back to us breaking up when I stood there sobbing and you looked the opposite way not once shedding a tear. And the cherry on top of the shit sundae was how you moved on with someone else so fast. I felt so easily replaced and disposable. 

This and so much more would keep me up at night, reminding me how I felt that first month without you. Everything rattled back and forth in my head causing my light to be dimmed all over again. 

The hardest part was letting go of the ‘us’ when we were happy. Romanticizing the good times, the affection and romance we shared, remembering the feeling of being so in love. Well if we were so meant to be, then why aren’t we together? Those happy honeymoon moments were the easy part. When it came to the real work of a relationship, I stayed and fought for us while you ran for the hills to hide in the dark. 

When you walked away without so much as putting up a fight for me, that should’ve been all the closure I needed. It was a hard pill to swallow, but once I finally choked it down, I was liberated from all of that overthinking/dissecting/self-deprecating bullshit which held me back. I have realized my worth again and it feels like I am a whole new person. A restored, more self-aware soul who has worked hard to move past something that nearly broke me. I am strong enough to take on the world again and am ready to give myself the love I knew I deserved all along. Most importantly, I understand that it wasn’t my fault. I loved you wholeheartedly and unapologetically but it just didn’t work out. When the right person is on the receiving end of that love, they won’t take it for granted. They will cherish it, fight for it, and won’t run away when things aren’t perfect. 

The continuous COVID lockdown has been an unintentional emotional boot camp where I’ve had no choice but to feel every emotion from all possible angles. And it was exactly what I didn’t know I needed. No distractions and nothing but time to work through all of the delicate feelings I’ve never experienced before. I made sure to stop shaming myself for going through the motions and accepted my vulnerability as a strength rather than a weakness. I thanked myself for being brave enough to pick myself up and start anew, especially during a global pandemic. I was lucky enough to experience a great love with someone and even more fortunate to have worked through the tough heartbreak it left me with

At first, all I wanted was to forget you. But now, I’ve taught myself to appreciate what we had, cherish the memories amicably and forgive the ending. Because if I never forgave you, you would still be taking energy from me when I could be using it to focus on what great things lie ahead for me. To fall in love with myself again and find solace in my own happiness. 

About the author

Rachel Pratley

Sharing raw and honest stories to bring people together