Simply Solo Spotlight: The Hardest Part Is Letting Go
This week’s Simply Solo Spotlight is written by Paul, who contacted me a while back to ask for my tips for getting over a particularly tough breakup. I did my best to help him by relaying my personal experiences, and I’m so proud of how far he’s come since we first spoke. I like how honest he is in this post about his last relationship and what he’s learned. It’s a longer post than I generally have on Simply Solo, but for me, it was really interesting to hear about heartache and loss from a male’s perspective. I hope you enjoy the post and will have some feedback for Paul in the comments! And, if you want to reach Paul directly, you can e-mail him at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Quick shameless plug: Do you have a story to tell? Advice to offer? Did you just have literally the worst date of your life and you must write about it? I’d love to have you as the next Simply Solo Spotlight! Contact me at: email@example.com.
The Hardest Part Is Letting Go
It’s over … five years of dedication, time, emotional highs and lows, and shared experiences all come to this. The person I believed to be my life partner, the one who had always been there when everyone else had left, was now leaving me too. How could this be happening right here, right now? Sure, the time we had spent together wasn’t a bed of roses, but I gave her my best, and now that wasn’t enough.
Words cannot describe the sinking feeling I had when I realized my ex (Elizabeth) had lost “those feelings” for me. I took every approach I could think of to try to rekindle the fire. It was like trying to light a match in a hurricane; it just wasn’t going to happen.
We had spent so much time together: holidays, deaths, births, times of joy, and times of sadness. I was always there for her, and she was the first person I felt was genuinely there for me. She had torn down all of the walls I had previously built to hide all my emotions. I had never looked at and respected anyone the way I did Elizabeth.
We first met through a mutual friend our freshman year of high school, and continued to date until we graduated. Then the first true test of our relationship came: college, and a long distance relationship. I chose to attend an out-of-state school about three hours north of my hometown. She chose to stay close to home and attend a smaller school less than half an hour away. Freshman year went by without a hitch. I really started believing in the crazy idea that this relationship may survive the challenges we had placed upon it.
Being in the Navy Reserves, I had to spend a month of my first college summer in San Diego, California. While I had a great time experiencing the Navy and Marine Corps’ latest and greatest advancements in warfare, I missed Elizabeth. Although we would talk on the phone almost daily, it just wasn’t the same as being with her. Elizabeth met me at the airport when I arrived back at home and the feeling of joy and excitement I experienced only solidified the notion that I loved this girl.
My sophomore year of college started out much like my freshman year, except now I felt somewhat accustomed to the sinking feeling that came with the distance. Classes hadn’t even started and already I was missing her. We discussed different ways to help deal with the distance, one being, she would come visit me once a month, and in return, I would visit her once a month. That way we would see each other every other week. This idea worked well; Elizabeth and I continued to grow together. I felt like I knew everything there was to know about her, and I’m sure she felt the same about me.
Just as everything seemed to fall in place and the rhythm of seeing Elizabeth every other week became the normal, I was blindsided by the hard reality that we weren’t sharing the same feelings. Elizabeth had started a new job during the summer of our freshman year, and her newfound friends were living a lifestyle that was radically different from mine. Elizabeth started to relate to these friends more than she did me. She attempted to balance her old lifestyle, the one I was accustomed to, and her new lifestyle with great success … at first.
As the year went on, Elizabeth started staying out partying later than before, and I could tell her outlook on life was changing. People always tell you college is where you find yourself … they couldn’t be more right. Elizabeth started becoming distant and short with me. I recognized we had a problem, but blew it off as a phase she was going through with her new job and friends. The phase never seemed to pass and the amount of time we spent arguing increased. Still, I thought we would get through our struggle. We had overcome every previous adversity with relative ease; I didn’t foresee this one as anything different.
Then, one day in March, our small issues blew up in my face. Elizabeth called me and I could tell something wasn’t right. After about an hour of back and forth chatter, she admitted to cheating on me with one of her co-workers. For the first time in our four and a half year relationship, I lost it. I had no control over my emotions, and I tore her down. I was overwhelmed with anger. How could she do this to me? The one girl I trusted, my best friend, how could she cheat on me? Outraged, I ended up telling her to not contact me, and that I would contact her when I decided what I wanted to do with this relationship. A couple of days later, I called her, and while still upset, told her if she wanted to continue, I would give her another chance. Elizabeth and I continued to date throughout the school year, and I looked forward to the summer. I thought spending the summer break together would bring us closer together and allow me to meet her new friends and everything would be fine. I could not have been more wrong. I met her friends as planned, and as much as I tried, I didn’t really fit in with this crowd. On the plus side, Elizabeth seemed to be happy I was home, and we spent as much time as possible together. While she was feeling better, I was feeling worse. Some things weren’t the way they were before. Was it the fact that I couldn’t move past the thought of her cheating on me? Had her new friends had more influence on her than I had thought? Whatever it was, I didn’t like having this feeling of a loss of connection between us, so I brought it up to Elizabeth and the first few times I spoke up, she quickly dismissed my concerns.
After two weeks of these feelings, I brought my concerns up again. This time, Elizabeth said she felt the same way – something just wasn’t right. She went on to say she wanted to work at getting those feelings back and breaking up was the last thing she wanted to do. So, I went along with this plan. We spent more time together, and I was putting in extra effort to show her I was there for her, and that everything would be OK. Secretly, I didn’t know if we could get out of this slump. The cheating had really hurt us as a couple, and although she wanted me to attempt to move past it, I just couldn’t. I was paranoid. What was she truly doing at her after work parties? Was she just dragging out the break up process to make it seem like she really cared, when in fact she was already on her way out? All of these questions continued to build and made it harder to see this relationship lasting.
As things continued to get worse, Elizabeth wanted us to go visit her sister in D.C. She proposed the trip as a way to get out of town and spend time together without the influence of our friends. At this point I was willing to try anything to make this work, and I felt this was our opportunity. As planned, we headed out to D.C. and I felt optimistic. I tried not to bring up our issues, and focus on just relaxing and enjoying each other’s company. At first, this trip seemed to be helping after all and Elizabeth really seemed to be enjoying herself. This feeling of optimism quickly vanished. Elizabeth never really displayed any affection toward me. We would go to bed and she wouldn’t even make an attempt at a good night kiss. This was definitely going south.
Upon returning home I couldn’t get the feeling of gloom to go away, so two days after the end all be all trip to D.C., I told her I couldn’t do this anymore, I had tried everything I could, and this just wasn’t going to work any longer. I had the biggest hole in my chest for the next few weeks. I almost went into a state of depression. I didn’t have an appetite, and I was really short with everyone I came in contact with. All I wanted to do was sleep. When I was asleep I couldn’t think about her, and that was the only peace I could get. Luckily, my friends really understood how hard this was on me. I would snap on them, and talk about Elizabeth 24/7. Yet, not once did they tell me to grow a pair and move on. They always comforted me and stayed with me although I was a complete ass to them at times.
Elizabeth and I stayed in regular contact for the first three weeks or so, texting and sometimes calling each other. She wanted to make sure we would remain best friends, and I told her there was no way that was happening. I knew the only way to get over her was to separate myself as much as possible. I could not wait for classes to begin so I could move away from her and focus on other things. When I finally moved, nothing changed. I still thought about her all of the time, constantly wanted to text her, and couldn’t focus on anything I needed to do. I would make attempts to not talk to her, this would go well for about two weeks and then I would break down and message her. I would use any excuse I could think of as to why I needed to text her.
The temptations to contact her continued for months. Her dad had surgery; I wanted to know how he was doing. It was hard for me to let go, not only of her, but of her family as well. I had to realize that it was no longer my role to care for them. Everything that happens to them from here on out is no longer my concern. It’s their private issue and I’m no longer in that bubble.
My friends all pressured me to date around. Every time we would go out, I was told to talk to this girl or call that one. I didn’t feel like talking to anyone; every girl I would meet, I would immediately start picking apart in my mind. I was brutal. One girl walked up to talk to me, and in less than 12 seconds, I had found seven things “wrong” with her.
I knew I would move on eventually, but I was looking in the range of at least six months later. When month three came, I was actually feeling a whole lot better. My friends had done an excellent job distracting me as much as possible, and I spent my down time reading Simply Solo and other relationship blogs gathering as much information as possible. I was determined to get back out there and move forward. After all, why should I sit around whining about a girl who wasn’t cut out for me? Still, I was in no rush to find someone new, but I had become a lot flirtier with girls and started to enjoy going out with friends and having a good time.
This wasn’t enough for my roommate and friends; they all wanted me to talk to girls, and go on dates. I would counter with the argument that I didn’t want to just date around, I wanted actual relationships, and those relationships would find me, not the other way around. Now, I don’t want to jump the gun and give you some crap about how I met this new girl who is leaps and bounds above Elizabeth, and how I think we will date and last forever, but I have met someone new. We’re taking things slow, but it’s looking promising for now. I forgot just how nerve racking the first few dates can be, all the planning and prepping, the anxiety you get when you’re walking up to her door before and after the date. These are all emotions I haven’t had in a while, but it’s fun again, and I look forward to every date in anticipation of the long-lost feelings that will potentially surface. I had honestly lost those “butterfly” feelings with Elizabeth, and to have those feelings return toward someone new has really shown me that Elizabeth wasn’t the only girl out there and that moving on could be a lot easier than I was making it.
So if you’re a guy (or girl) out there who’s going through a hard breakup and you are struggling to see the light at the end of the tunnel, I’m here to tell you there is one. Unfortunately, like everyone tells you, it does take time. It took me a little over three months before I began to start feeling like myself again, but time does heal all wounds.
I’d like to thank Catherine for letting me write this (long) spotlight post. She was a big part of the reason I am as far along as I am now. I was really surprised at the speed of her e-mail replies and impressed with the depth in which she answered my questions. I follow her blog religiously, and I am never disappointed.