I have read and re-read this quote several times over the last 24 hours and I still find new ways to fall in love with it all over again. As a recovering co-dependent with a huge heart, I often found myself looking ahead to the Saturday nights spent without a date or feeling ill over the idea of not having someone to text “Good morning” as I rode the train to work. Suddenly, my bed grew bigger while my hopes in any long-lasting relationship diminished. The inevitable thought crept inside my already-paranoid head–what if I was totally unlovable to the ones I wanted love from? What if I was some defective piece of merchandise, purchased and then returned because the customer always found something wrong? What if I was destined to be the village’s resident spinster with sixty-two cats?
Fact: I don’t live in a remote village, and I’m allergic to cats.
Why, Bukowski, must I begin again? At twenty-eight years old, my time and eggs are valuable!
That’s me half-joking, half nervously chuckling to myself because this weekend, it happened again. I somehow ended up single again and my stomach was ready to relieve itself of whatever leftovers were in my stomach. Basically, every relationship insecurity I’d managed to seemingly resolve came flooding back in a conversation that ultimately ended with us parting ways.
The sad part is I was beginning to give pieces of myself to this person, but that’s the risky gamble we all take when we find someone we eventually want a relationship with. For a depressive, it’s even harder to give up those pieces because if it does end, getting back into the dating world is tricky. How do I tell someone I’m depressed or have severe anxiety or obsessively read about global warming and conclude we’re all going to die tomorrow because, well, we’re running out of water, aren’t we?! The typical dude will run for the nearest exit and I get it. Dating someone with mental illness is tough to navigate. And my chest hurts just thinking about having to start from scratch again, visiting that topic, and watching my potential partner’s face for any sudden flinches or pupil dilation–any sign that may indicate they won’t know what to do when I am unusually stressed out over a small task.
To put it bluntly, my now-ex boyfriend was extremely patient with my depression. He listened to me go on about impending doom and rationalized my thoughts. He studied environmental engineering, so he got it. It was a good relationship until it wasn’t, I suppose, and I guess the beauty of it was being adult enough to know when to call it. So we did.
And now I’m here with this Bukowski quote staring me down, daring me to begin yet again, and I’m not the type of girl to back down from a challenge. The beauty of depression is self-acceptance and self-discovery, and what better way to explore those two lessons than after a relationship ends! From my bleeding heart to yours, here are some important findings I’ve uncovered about healing the wounds of a partnership gone wrong:
- “There is so much more room for activities!” (Stepbrothers) Without this coming off as completely selfish, a breakup can be a really positive thing. Looking back on past relationships all the way up to this last one, I see a huge transformation of self–a period necessary for growth and exploration. All too often, we can immediately look for another relationship to fill the void of not having someone to go on dates with. But is that time well spent? Do you really think being busy with dates every weekend is going to fill your cup? Are you even interested in the person sitting across from you, or are you just looking for a way to not be alone in your apartment? Screw that entire plan and get comfortable with dating yourself for awhile. Heal by taking yourself to a movie. Treat yourself well and fill your time with things you love to do. Women are especially guilty of this, but we often defer to our partner’s plans and routine instead of maintaining our own schedules. In this deferring of our own needs and wants, we lose our identity. I’m certainly guilty of it, 100%. So after a relationship ended about two years ago, I signed up for improv classes. I took up yoga. I woke up on Sundays and took myself out for coffee. Treat yourself well first by giving your time to passions you once lived for.
- You learn the value of your worth and you don’t apologize for it. God, I wish I could tell you how f*cking awesome you are and awesome you will continue to be. Whether you’re a man or a woman, breakups suck. But there are powerful messages to receive, like finding out the qualities you truly want in a partner. For instance, I love deeply and passionately. When I’m devoted to something/one, you have all of me and then some. With the last couple of relationships, the same line comes up: “You deserve someone who loves like you do.” Guess what? They’re right. And chances are they deserve someone they want to be with, too. It’s not fair for them to try and live up to the way you love. It’s also not fair for you to keep giving your heart and soul only to get half of one or the other in return. Recognize your worth.
- Surround yourself with good vibes. I am #blessed to have an amazing support network of truly unstoppable forces of nature as friends. My yoga community is my safe haven. Yesterday, I came to my mat for a 75-minute class with my dear friend, Halle. She knew about my newly established relationship status and as soon as I got on my mat, I teared up. I had come to my mat three years ago after a brutal breakup and found yoga. Now, I was still coming back for healing and self-love. I spent Sunday afternoon at a good friend’s BBQ. My Sunday morning was spent with another amazing soul drinking coffee on an ivy-covered patio and laughing about all the crazy things that happen in life. For my first day of being “back on the market”, I’d say I fared pretty well despite the waves of missing him at certain points throughout the day.
- Love comes again. I know, it’s hard to imagine but love actually happens again, and it typically happens when you least expect it. We are allowed to feel the emotions that arise from a breakup. We’re allowed to cry and feel vulnerable and swear off dating all together! But most importantly, love doesn’t listen to your crazy pacts you make with yourself. It has its own agenda and knows your address. Trust me on this.
So, my dear heart, are you ready to brave the world solo? Have you learned enough to get you through this next phase and be open to whatever comes your way? Are you ready to drink from your self and begin again? Because I sure think you are.