I was already seasoned in harsh breakups. I had some tough ones before. I wasn’t too concerned about a broken heart, because I experienced it enough times in the past to know how I can find my happiness on the other side.

This last breakup should not be different, right?


Even though I knew it was most probably coming.

Even though I knew we can’t easily bridge the gaps of what we wanted in a relationship.

Still, when it came, what surprised me most was not the severity of the pain — it was the lingering of it.

I went through all the common stages of grief.

First, denial. I thought I am handling it pretty well.

I didn’t feel all that sad at all. I didn’t even think about him all that much.

Then, two days later, anger kicked in. 

I started thinking that he was utterly unfair. He really could have done this differently. He should have at least delivered it face to face. He should not have denied me of a last goodbye hug. Actually, I expected him to include me in his process of making that decision — that’s what we did so far in our relationship, so why the decision to break up should be any different? And why did he not give us the opportunity to find a way to work this out? 

Anger was nasty — and it mixed itself with sadness.

Sleepless nights, screaming “why???” into a void of confusion and sorrow.

Then came bargaining. Because, actually, perhaps I could have compromised? Perhaps I should invest my efforts into learning to be OK with the type of relationship he wanted? Then at least I could still see him.

The sorrow was unbearable at times.

And depression followed suit.

Believing he is the best guy on the face of the planet didn’t help. Life became fucking hard. And overwhelming. Not to mention, what’s the point of ever trying to search for someone else — no one could ever compare to him.

It took months before acceptance settled in. To start with, it came and went, weaving itself in between the anger and sorrow. It took much longer than I ever imagined before acceptance became dominant. I assumed it would be much quicker than that. After all, I practiced my favorite method of letting go. I’m an expert at mending a broken heart — so how come this time it took so fucking long?!

Eventually, though, it filtrated into my system and I got it. 

It’s best for both of us to search for what we want, elsewhere.

And still — I couldn’t find the peace I was craving.

Even though my mind was completely accepting that this was for the best, I was missing the wholehearted, integrated peace that should accompany that understanding.

And I hated it that I couldn’t offer him my friendship.

I missed him dearly. I wanted to pick up the damn phone and call him, but I knew I can’t offer him my unconditional friendship that he deserves. I wanted to hear about his kids, about his work, about his parents, his sisters.

But I did not want to hear that he’s happy. I was jealous. And envious.

I did not want to know that his life is great, while I was having such a hard time getting over him.

I did not want to hear that he found what he was after.

The thing that finally helped me find my peace was taking ownership of what I did in our relationship: dismissing the signs that he was unhappy.

See, I was looking for a life partner.

Someone to create a couple bubble with.

And I wanted it with this guy — so I brushed aside all the evidence that he is not interested in creating it with me, in the hope that if I stick around, he’ll finally give it to me.

After all, I knew that he loves me. He gave me his love through and through. 

I just forgot that it’s not his love that I was after: it was his commitment.

And he gave it to me, but at the cost of losing what he was after: freedom.

Taking ownership of what I did means that now I get it.

Now I see how I convinced myself that making most of the effort in maintaining the relationship was just the dynamics of our relationship. Where let’s admit it, it was probably an indicator that this type of relationship was not something he was interested in.

In our last phone call, when he said he feels lonely in our monogamous relationship, I dismissed him. I could not compute how he could feel lonely if we’re on the phone almost every day. And why doesn’t he jump in the car to see me if he feels so lonely?

Now I understand. He was lonely because he stopped himself from being who he truly was, just to make me happy.

I should never have let it come to this.

We did nothing wrong — nothing wrong whatsoever.

He was being him.

I was being me.

And for some odd reason, the only thing that propelled me into a place of true peace with this breakup was taking ownership that I didn’t pay close enough attention. 

I wish I could offer him my unconditional love.

A love in which I can be his true friend. A friend who does not feel an ounce of pain when he tells me how he enjoys his life of freedom and variety.

But even with this newly established peace, I still don’t have it in me to offer this type of friendship. I’m still afraid that if I offer my friendship, I’ll end up wanting more of him. More than he is willing to give.

So for the time being, I am not offering him my friendship.

I keep away.

I had some really tough breakups in the past. This was, by far, the toughest of them all. But at least I learned a new strategy for dealing with painful breakups: taking ownership of what I did.

Hopefully, though, I will never need to use this strategy again.

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