I’m single again, and frankly I’m not really sure how to feel besides indifferent.
I never dated or had a boyfriend in high school, and throughout college had a a handful of disappointing dates. My ex was the first relationship I’d had in my life, and it was great until it wasn’t. The first two years were fun, romantic, light-hearted years. Then around late March/early April our dynamic shifted.
We began fighting more. I was unemployed and he was insistent that I go to work in a warehouse, in spite of having insurance experience and getting interviews in my original industry. He was pushy and overbearing about the warehouse job, I was trying to unsuccessfully interview and keep it together, and the depression I had been trying to fight off finally came back with a vengeance in early April.
I got criticism for the depression as well. Apparently because it came in waves instead of being a regular constant black hole of doom day in and day out, it wasn’t “real.”
The other major bone of contention in our relationship was my mother, and not quite what you’re thinking either.
My mother and I are very close – I’m an only child, and for periods of my childhood she was a divorcee raising a child on her own. She’s my best friend, and we know each other through and through. We talk daily and talk about anything and everything, even the topics most adults probably wouldn’t go into with their mothers about.
This was unacceptable to my ex. In hindsight I believe he was jealous of and felt threatened by the bond I share with my mom, since all he heard growing up was his father stressing about his (ex’s) maternal grandmother doing her own thing and not caring what other people (mainly the father) thought about it. Towards the end of our relationship my ex was constantly accusing me of always siding with my mother over him, always defending my mother, and was adamant that if he married me, my mother would be over all the time unannounced, telling us which house to buy; how to raise any children; or asking for large sums of money to finance any decisions my ex felt were unnecessary.
For the record, my mother has never done anything like this in the almost 30 years I’ve known her. I was constantly reassuring him that Mom’s brain simply didn’t operate that way, and the things he worried about just weren’t issues.
To share a story of how ludicrous his beef over my mother got, we had an argument around Easter candy. I’m serious – Mom gave us some candy after remarking she probably wouldn’t since my grandmother wanted to go all out for Easter this year and sent us all home with some chocolates. Come Easter Sunday Mom gave me and the ex a bag each with some candies in it. Okay, this was nice, we thanked her, no problem, correct?
Nope. Ex didn’t understand why my mom gave us candy. It doesn’t make sense, why is she giving us candy if she thought Grandma was going to give us each a generous amount?
I told him I didn’t see why this was a big deal. It’s candy – just say thank you and eat it or toss it once we’re home.
Nope – this was not an acceptable answer as it’s about the principle and “You always side with your mother. Why can’t you admit she does things that doesn’t make sense?”
The criticism over my mother, her marriage with my stepfather, and their financial decisions – which he couldn’t accept as being none of his business – were constant. Now I realize that he was deeply unhappy with me and checked out of the relationship because I was unemployed – which stressed him out because of his own anxiety and insecurities. He was shutting me out and pushing me away because I wouldn’t do what I was told, and the best way to accomplish that was to go after Mom.
Last Wednesday we talked and he wanted to take a two week break, stating that we were both unhappy and maybe a time out would help us. Up until this point I had wanted to stay together and work through the issues. I was serious about doing so. Then Thursday night I was having a breakdown and asked him to come over, since I didn’t want to be alone and wanted to see if this thing could be saved.
He came over and physically comforted me – holding my hands and holding me, but still berating me about not applying for warehouse jobs. He even brought up my mother – why didn’t she have a job when I was younger if she wanted to do things now? Her choice to be an at-home mom until I was five years old and throughout elementary school wasn’t acceptable anymore, since there are women who work from home full time and take care of the kids. (By the way, his mother was an at-home mom when they were little and for the longest time he wanted me to be at home with children if we would have them.) Oh yeah, and my “only child syndrome” was thrown back in my face, and the way he said it you would think I was a child molester.
I finally looked up at him and got the confirmation.
His eyes held no love for me anymore.
And truth be told, they hadn’t for a long time and deep down I knew it.
There were no “I love yous” when he went home that night and I went to bed feeling broken. The next morning I woke up and knew it was time. The past two days had been a constant loop of walking back and forth between my couch and bedroom and sobbing throughout the day. There was no way in hell I was waiting two weeks and suffering.
At 9 a.m. I was at his place to return all the things he had been keeping at my place and get my extra key back. I sobbed the entire time. He was still spouting the same stuff about money, my job search, money, my mother, money and now how he has to be all alone, while also trying to be comforting and affectionate at the most ironic time.
However, there’s no going back. Too much had been said, and it was my time to break it off.
So it’s Day Three, and the start of a new week. Friday after I got home was hard, and I wound up going home to my parents to spend the weekend with them and visit my grandparents. I told my mother and grandparents all of the especially bad things that were said to me, the insults and arguments that I had planned on withholding from them had I seen some remorse from my ex and we worked our issues out in couples counseling. Mom was shocked, and I apologized over a few of the insulting remarks against her that I now wish I had ended the relationship over sooner.
She understood and told me not to worry about it – “You’ve now joined the same club every other woman has had to join. You invest yourself in him and trying to make it work, then you realize you can’t and end it.”
There were some tears on and off on Saturday, but nothing at all like the bawling in the days prior. On Sunday I didn’t cry, although when reflecting on the relationship’s end, I did feel some sadness.
Then I got back to my apartment in Columbus. Marina was waiting for me, and suddenly my place didn’t feel so suffocating. I fed her, opened all of my blinds exactly how I wanted, and decided it was time to clean off the counters. The light bulbs in my two living room lamps had burnt out a while ago, and I finally noticed that I needed to change the bulbs. “It’s way too dark in here,” I told Marina.
So I changed out the bulbs and had the light back in my place – literally.
I deep cleaned the kitchen and swept off the back porch. The birds got fresh food. The furniture was dusted. And as I was cleaning I had Alexa playing happy breakup songs, one of which was Reba McEntire’s “Goin’ Out Like That.”
It’s a fiery song, true to Reba’s fashion, that tells the story of a young woman going out and getting on with her life. I love the chorus and was having way too much fun belting it out: “He thought she’d be sitting home crying/but she ain’t goin’ out like that/She’s had enough of feeling like dyin’/She ain’t goin’ out like that/Everybody, here comes the life of the party, yeah, she is/He might have left her brokenhearted/but she ain’t goin’ goin out like that.”
I hadn’t sang or danced like that in a while, and I didn’t even need a wine cooler to get my mood or energy up.
I was able to feel alive and productive, and start dreaming about the next job and all that I want to do, now all that I can do without someone else’s schedule or complaints or limitations in the way. I was daydreaming about the races I want to travel to, and the next car I want to buy. I even filled up the candy dish again, without having to listen to protests about someone else being on a low-carb diet.
Do you remember at the beginning of this post when I said I wasn’t sure how feel about the breakup or towards my ex, other than indifferent? Turns out I do know how I feel – peaceful. Optimistic. Finally seeing the bright side and looking forward to what’s next.
I’m looking forward to being single for a while and rediscovering the parts of myself I wasn’t able to see or hear when my depression was at its strongest. And honestly, I don’t even hold any animosity towards my ex. The behavior towards the end was unacceptable and there’s no chance for a romantic reconciliation. But him as a person I feel sympathetic for. The anxiety and worrying were always present, and the longer we were together and went through a challenge, he panicked. It was hard to be with him, but I imagine it would be harder to live with that kind of anxiousness. Actually, it would be – I spent so much of my life until my mid-20s living in panic mode myself. I don’t recommend it to anyone.
So here I am. Originally I was going to announce make a fall running announcement today. But instead I wanted to write about my breakup and get the last bits of sadness off my heart. Either way I’m still ready to get back to me. And like Reba sang, I will not be sitting at home crying. I’m not goin’ out like that.
To all of you who stayed with me until the end – thank you. Writing is and always has been cathartic, and I’m not one to pretend life is always happy. But it is wonderful. Now go forth and conquer the week.
Yours in writing and running,