Are you or someone you know going through a breakup? If so, you are in good company and perhaps my antidote is something you will relate to.
There I sat on the edge of my bed, shocked.
How could the man who said he unconditionally loved me resort to "the silent treatment" following an argument?
Against my better judgment, I trusted his words. After all, we had been together for some time.
There was a little ebb and flow in our relationship; he often mistook my passion for anger. I mistook his laidback nature for not caring. We loved each other, or so it seemed, so that was all that mattered.
I realized I would love him in sickness and in health. If he got a little older, a little balder, or even stinky, I would continue loving him. I was in this for the long haul and it seemed he was too.
"I think we will be together for a long time," he would wistfully say.
Sometimes my gut would warn me that something had gone awry. You know, the kind of feeling that warns us when something might be wrong? He would settle my worrying heart with a few simple words.
"I am not ignoring you," my boyfriend once said after a heated debate. "There are some guys that would just shut of the phone and say they were done. I'm not that kind of guy. I'll never do that to you."
We had long decided that if we were ever going to end things we would do it with the same care we put into the relationship. Like the month I spent caring for him while he recovered from surgery. Or the countless months I supported him while he was trying to find himself. I loved him desperately and he seemed to love me back.
And when I did make mistakes I would ask him why he dealt with it.
"Because I love you," he would say.
Now here we are, back to the corner of the bed, being shocked. Love and communication was the foundation that kept us together. Giving one another the silent treatment was on the list of what we agreed we would never do, like cheating.
"Being in love does not mean you won't slay dragons," my mother once said.
So it was. I thought I was just slaying another dragon. A small argument and in a moments time he effectively shut me out of his life. He did not even end things.
Desperation eventually set in. Nothing hurt so badly as the epic silence. Not having any form of closure was equally daunting. Feelings of being used and lied to flooded my mind. I even started to doubt my sanity. I begin to think I was some sort of horrible person that deserved the treatment I was receiving.
My last semester in college was rapidly approaching. Months and months of promises and reassurances fused with countless great memories came crashing into this new reality.
The man I loved, the person who was the cornerstone of my life, who said I was the cornerstone of his, had moved on after a small argument. I needed some kind of validation for all the time, energy and money spent, hope and promises made.
"You know you are a big part of my life," I told him. Before the small tiff we were planning on moving in with one another.
"You're a big part of mine, too," he replied.
A few weeks went by and I realized there would be no closure. Any notion of justice, peace, healing, acceptance, forgetting, remembering, forgiveness, moving on, or answered questions went out the window.
As a product of more than 40 foster homes, three groups homes, a son to deceased adopted parents, I have faced many horrors in life. Yet those seemed to pale in comparison to the pain I was feeling. There would be no talking about what happened. I wouldn't even successfully get any of my property back from his place.
Was I really a jaded, faded rainbow? The breakup had even seeped into my educational relationships as well. During a routine e-mail with my friend and correspondent, I began to vent. The wise sage had a simple reply that put everything into perspective.
Dr. Chomsky replied, "it is not at all uncommon for people your age."
Why did I expect closure? Well, from romantic breakups to terrorist attacks people are told to find closure after bad things happen. Closure has become central for explaining what people supposedly need to find in order to heal after a loss.
However, as I am going through this process, I now know, closure is not a naturally occurring emotion. The best I can hope for is to heal.
The Freedom to Grieve by Nancy Burns, Ph.D., appeared at my doorstep. Apparently my friends and family could tell that I was going through a considerable amount of pain.
Burns offers some great advice on how to begin to heal if you are experiencing anything near what I am feeling:
1. Forget "closure." You can heal without closure, even though you may carry some pain as you move forward.
2. Recognize the loss from a breakup and give yourself time to grieve. Don't just gloss over the loss and ignore the pain by "celebrating."
3. Take the high road. You've likely lost a lot and the pain can lead to anger. Try to let go of anger and desire for revenge; vengeance is not a path to healing.
4. Free yourself from negativity. Don't put down your ex and ask friends and family to not make disparaging remarks. Talking bad about your ex keeps you in a cycle of pain.
5. Find a friend, clergy member, or counselor who will listen to your pain without fanning flames of anger.
6. Seek forgiveness.
7. Learn to live with some questions. You don't have to understand everything that happened.
8. Identify what is missing now that you are not in that particular relationship and find ways to slowly rebuild your life.
9. Hope in tomorrow without trying to erase your past. You will not always feel so bad, and you can find joy again even before the pain ends.
Reading the advice brought me one step closure to taking control of my emotions. The rest will just take time, or so I hope. Until my heart and mind mends: I'll be somewhere between the road of pain and confusion in route to the place where maybe, just maybe, the healing can begin.