In Which I Have a Lot of Regrets and Complaints

I was supposed to have a work event this past weekend, meaning my ex would definitely be there and possibly his GF, though possibly not since her name got scratched off the sign-up sheet. Since I wanted to know what exactly I’d be in for after four months of not seeing either of them, I had my best friend check to see if they’re still together and yep, they are. They are still in each other’s profile pictures.

And then I just plummeted. (And by the way, I didn’t go. Figured I’d be happier if I just stayed home and studied.)

I guess I’d gotten my hopes up, even though part of me thought them breaking up would be too good to be true. And part of me just wants them broken up just so that means I have some space without them always flirting in front of me. But the other part of me still really misses him and wishes I had just one more chance with him to do things right because I have a lot of regrets and things I would’ve done differently if I’d known better at the time.

When him and I were together, I was under an enormous amount of stress.

First I was in summer school taking a Psych Stats course that requires a C+ or higher in order for me to apply for my major, plus I was still new at my job and learning things and worried that I would screw up and get fired.

Then I was seeing different psychologists to try and get a diagnosis for whether I had a mental disorder, submitting paperwork to my school to apply as a student with a disability, then having to drop out of school to take care of all these appointments and paperwork, which then resulted in StudentAid BC telling me that since I’d dropped out too many times, they would no longer loan me any money. Which is devastating for me because I was still living in poverty and didn’t know how I would pay for school and my receiving BC Housing and child support depends on me being a full-time student, and at the time BC Housing and child support were paying for the roof over my head. Plus this means that I’d sunk about $20, 000 into a degree I now might not get to finish.

Then I had to do more paperwork concerning student loans, which they wanted me to start paying back despite the fact that I am still in school, full-time according to my university since I now have a documented disability, but they won’t acknowledge my disability because I can’t prove that it will last for the rest of my natural life, so therefore I am a “part-time” student and should pay my student loans back. Because eight years of crippling anxiety and depression is not solid enough evidence for them.

I was helping my mom job hunt and rebuilding my relationships with my siblings, which was also stressful, and living in a dump of an apartment that needed constant maintenance because that’s all we could afford.

This all resulted in me being tired all the time. So we didn’t actually go out for dates all that often, but usually stayed in at my place or his. Each time, the plan was to watch a movie, but it got to the point where I felt so tired I didn’t even feel like watching a movie but would rather just cuddle on the couch… which usually ended up with us making out on the couch. I’m not sure where the energy for that came from, but somehow it was there.

I don’t regret going as far as I did with him sexually, but I do wish I’d spent less time making out with him and more time actually talking with him. I wish we’d went out for walks or went out swimming or ice skating or played board games or video games or sat around listening to music or reading books together or even just studying together.

And I just had so much of my own baggage. I never suggested going out to restaurants or movies because I knew he would insist on paying for me as well as him and I hated being a drain on his bank account. He’d made it clear on the first date that he didn’t have a problem paying for me (in fact, I think it makes him feel rather manly), and after date number four, during which I had my “I hate being poor” breakdown, he insisted on paying for my things. He was just trying to take care of me.

But thing is, I like being independent. When someone is always paying for me, I feel like a burden. And he was younger than me and I wanted him to enjoy that. I wanted him to save that money for school or for a trip to his dad’s in Alberta or for that video game he’s had his eye on or on a new book. I didn’t want him spending it all on me.

And during the summer when we’d dated, he was working two jobs, both of them very extraverted while he is rather introverted, then once his summer job was over he was in his first semester of university, taking full-time courses while working close to thirty hours a week. I figured he was tired and he had mentioned being really exhausted so I didn’t suggest actually going out to do something either because I wanted to make sure he was getting the rest he needed.

Now I realize how stupid it was. He was the one who suggested us going for a walk on our Thanksgiving date and he had a great time. He had a great time! He was talkative and energetic and fun. So why did I think he wouldn’t want to go out to actually do stuff? And I’m so mad at myself for not even thinking of just asking him about it.

I wish I’d been more assertive. I wish I’d confronted him on things like him not telling people about us, particularly not telling his mom, and I wish I’d insisted on him telling me at least something about his past relationships. But I never did because I was trying to be respectful of his boundaries and because I didn’t want to be seen as a “nagging”, “clingy” girlfriend (which is an idea our society put into my head, not him).

I wish I’d been more affectionate with him in public. I would hold his hand and put my arm around him in public, but I’d never kissed him in public, not once. Since I didn’t really have any relationship experience, I wasn’t sure what “appropriate” PDA was and didn’t want to offend people, so I didn’t give him a kiss even when I wanted to. And I worried about people walking in on us kissing too. I wonder if that put a damper on things as well.

I wish I wasn’t so scared. Sometimes I wonder if it was my own fear that ended the relationship.

My mom says that she understands my thoughts, but that it takes two to make a relationship work and he wasn’t trying. Which is true. I know the break-up isn’t my fault. He was the one refusing to talk to me that last month of our relationship. But I guess sometimes you just go over it all in your head because if you’re the one who wrecked it maybe you’re the one who can fix it.

I wish I could have another chance, to tell him what I’ve learned and what we could do different. Maybe things would be different with me on antidepressants and taking a lower course load and having less paperwork and appointments and not being so scared of what others think of me and with my mom having a full-time job and us living in a nice place.

And I’m just so confused because I feel like I’ve been dealing with two totally different people in my memories of him. One of those people loves me and thinks I’m just the most wonderful person and is excited to see me and be around me. The other doesn’t care about me at all and is cold and rude. I don’t know how to reconcile them with each other. My world doesn’t even make sense to me. Dating him now, after all that’s happened, doesn’t make sense. But being apart from him doesn’t make sense either.

So I had several breakdowns over the course of this weekend, after which my mother lectured me. I hate being lectured. I’m either being told what I should’ve done differently, which frankly isn’t helpful to me now, or told that life’s not fair and to just get over it.

(I feel like I’m painting a rather negative picture of my mom. She’s actually really great with me most of the time and I’m glad she’s my mom. It’s just that when I’m super close to someone and they get on my nerves, it affects me more than if it’s someone I’m not close to getting on my nerves, so I complain about them more even if they’re great the rest of the time.)

I also overestimated how much medication I had left and ran out, so we wound up having to grab that on the way to my brother’s place so I had it for exam time. So we wound up being an hour late, which my brother was fine with, but my mom lectured me in the car about how I need to plan ahead or write things down and how now this is affecting my brother and his family. And I just said “‘Kay” and kept my mouth shut. Sometimes I want to say “Can’t you see I’m already doing the best I can? Can’t you accept that sometimes things just slip my mind? Can’t you see I already hate myself for being a burden on my loved ones?” But I don’t because it would worry her and she worries about me enough already.

It’s been tight financially. Obviously, having to come up with like, $2000-$3000 out of nowhere to get moved took its toll, but we had to shell out even more money because now that my mom finally has a medical plan, she had to catch up on all the medical appointments that have had to be neglected for the past, mmm… seven years or so. Which was another $1000. And then there’s gas money to get to and from work from us both. Plus Christmas shopping. Plus I needed a new sports bra and new pajamas.

In short, we didn’t have much money for groceries so I haven’t eaten much this week. As I’ve already referenced, when I don’t eat enough, my thoughts wander to places they shouldn’t and my muscles get sore and it’s harder to sleep so I just feel like crap.

And then of course, there are final exams. Yesterday felt like the longest day ever. Sunday was spent getting my medication then visiting with my brother and his family then studying super late then having that breakdown and then more studying and then yesterday morning I had one of my finals then work, so I wound up being up for over thirty hours with only a nap for sleep.

I’m also taking on more hours at work next semester, which means I’ll have to go to staff meetings, which means my ex will be there and his GF too unless I get lucky and she has a class at that time. I’m really dreading it because being around them all summer really messed me up and I never want to go through that again. Honestly, I’m petrified.

Again, my moods have been all over the place. There are some days where I’m passionate and opinionated and alive and am interested in all these things and love learning and am a genius and will one day do great things and feel like I can handle anything that comes my way. Then other days, like these days, nothing that used to make me happy makes me happy, I feel like I have no personal interests or hobbies, and just feel like this boring, empty shell of a human being that never gets anything done.

I’ve been trying really hard to be positive but lately it’s been falling short. If you believe in prayer, I would really appreciate you praying for me.

Advertisements

When It Kills to be Kind

I did not wind up working with my ex after all. One part of me is relieved, the other part of me is a little disappointed because I miss having him around. I was a little mad at myself for being disappointed because why should I care about seeing him after what he did to me? And I know that I’ve certainly been doing better not having him around. It’s just that he was such a big part of my life and now he’s not there at all.

I also almost ran into his girlfriend at school right before one of my midterms. I’m not sure if she saw me, she just walked by a couple times, but boy, she did not look like a happy camper. Which is frankly rather satisfying. Normally I don’t like seeing unhappy people, but after she turned my workplace into a living hell by rubbing her relationship with my ex in my face while I was trying to do my job and that she continued to do that after it was made clear to her that her behaviour was upsetting me and making me extremely uncomfortable and suffered no repercussions from that, I’m glad to see that she’s not getting her own way (or perhaps that her own way is not working out for her quite as well as she hoped).

Then I went to work to discover that Ex has been using the cards we send to encourage students to flirt with Her. Since she takes classes there as well as working there, she always got these cards, but it was left on the top of the pile to be mailed so it was the first thing I saw when I got in. He wrote way more on her card than anyone else’s and ended it with, “Love you, *winky smiley face*”. It looks like it was written a couple weeks ago. My mom thinks they’re being enormously unprofessional and that it might’ve been left deliberately where I could see it and says that it will catch up with them but it never seems to.

I’m just so sick of it all because I’m trying my utmost to be professional and good and gracious and kind and I’m starting to reach my breaking point because I seem to be the only one putting an effort into that and do they even give a damn about anyone but themselves? I just want to scream at them both “You’re so selfish! You’re so selfish! You’re so selfish!” But I don’t because I care about my reputation and because they’re human beings with, y’know, feelings and stuff. So I just screamed it into the ether while driving home from work where no one could hear me.

And I can feel this negativity and bitterness and resentment rushing in and I hate it. I can feel it eating me alive and I’m weeping because I’ve gotten to the point where I don’t even know if I can be kind anymore. For me that it a huge blow. In my view, my kindness under extreme pain and stress is one of the most important parts of me but now I am beyond breaking point. Losing my kindness is a real loss. I want so badly to be good and kind but I’m so tired and I keep getting hurt so I don’t see how I’m supposed to keep this up.

Once a friend of mine was talking about a fight she had with her boyfriend (who is now her ex) and she was really quite upset and she said “I could just scratch his face off.” At the time, I was rather disturbed by the graphic images this sentence provoked, but now I see where she was coming from. It’s not that I ever would do that to someone, or that I even want to, but that there is this intense pain and desperation and longing for things to be different and things to be better but nothing is working and you don’t know what to do and you feel destroyed and it doesn’t even seem possible to contain that destruction to just you. There’s the urge to claw these people and rip apart the walls and books and anything within reach. Maybe this is why in some cultures, tearing your clothes is a symbol of mourning: because you just feel so awful that you have to destroy something.

And there are times when I ask myself, “Why do I even bother?” I’ve been kind to them both for a very long time but neither of them seem to appreciate it or even see it. And I’m sick of having to be “the bigger person” and of being held to a higher moral standard than everyone else. Can’t somebody else here be good for a change instead of it always being me? I’d really like a break.

So why do I bother?

I bother because kindness doesn’t expect kindness in return. It hopes for kindness in return, but doesn’t demand it. And kindness hopes to be returned not just for the sake of the person being kind, but also for the sake of the person receiving the kindness. That is the nature and purpose of kindness. There is a peace and security in that.

I bother because I am kind. It’s not just a behaviour, but a fundamental part of who I am.

There are times when I can’t seem to understand or justify why I am that way, I just am. And maybe I need to stop figuring out why I am that way and just accept that I am that way. I am kind.

Sometimes I don’t like my kindness. So many times it is interpreted as weakness and cowardice and compliance. Sometimes it’s even called anti-feminist (as a feminist, this really bothers me; it gives feminism a bad name). I have these indoctrinated thoughts of “You’re such a doormat” and “If you’re so strong, why don’t you stand up for yourself?” But often times, what is thought of as standing up for yourself is just tearing others down. Maybe being kind is a way of standing up for myself. I am refusing to compromise my morals. I am being kind on my terms, not out of desperation for approval but for the sake of all that is good. At least my conscience is clean.

And I’ve just realized that that is actually an incredibly empowering thought, so I’m going to hold on to that. I am kind. So I will keep being kind and hope that it will bring out the beauty and goodness in others and in the world.

Sometimes, it kills to be kind. And when it kills me to be kind, that’s when I have to remember that kindness also resurrects.

The Break-Up Survival Guide (Depression and Anxiety Edition): Let Yourself Go Through the Process

I’m writing this bit first because I think it kind of serves as a model to fit the rest of my suggestions into. See, a process has multiple stages that require different behaviours and such from each stage, so it’s very much about context and so all the rest of what I will say fits with different stages of the process, so I think this is an excellent place to start.

Dealing with a break-up (or any loss) really is a process. For me, it’s been a very long process.

This has been my life:

I dreaded my shifts at work so much that I was nauseous pretty much all the time. Because of this, I ate less and lost a lot of weight and even had to have someone cover my shifts, losing precious wages as a result. I was tired all the time. I didn’t want to get out of bed, but I had to because I had a job and I needed to survive somehow. I kept busy all day, trying to distract myself. All I wanted to do was sleep, but I also dreaded falling asleep because I kept dreaming about the two of them together, which is somehow worse than any dream I’ve had about my abusive father or about that guy who stalked me in high school or the nightmares that would leave my heart pounding when I awoke. And then, of course, having dreamed about them, they were the first thing in my head when I woke up. And I just wanted them out of my head, but I couldn’t get them out.

I really didn’t know what to do with myself because nothing made me happy. Watching movies and reading books were depressing because I’d see these interactions between the characters that reminded me of him and I together. I was too miserable to try writing music or journaling or blogging because writing out the way I was feeling meant thinking about what I was feeling which I did not want to do. I avoided friends and family because talking to them about how I was meant rehashing all this break-up stuff and I didn’t want to think about it.

The only thing that truly distracted me was Pinterest. Bizarrely enough, looking at photos of wedding dresses did not make me depressed. It was actually a pleasantly neutral stimulus that only had the thought process of “Wow, that’s really pretty”. But as soon as I had to pull myself away from the distraction, I fell right back into the abyss.

Things got tense around the apartment because my mom was the only person I was really talking to and so I leaned way more heavily on her while she still had a physically demanding full-time job to work, plus commute, plus grocery shopping and bill-paying, plus I was so tired and unmotivated that I didn’t keep up with any of my chores which meant she was either having to do the chores herself or expend the energy of nagging me to get my butt into gear.

Now, this isn’t what I would call “healthy” behaviour on my part and I hope you never feel this awful. Having depression and anxiety probably amplified “normal” break-up feelings and thoughts into these mutant, unmanageable, life-sucking emotions that I had. But my point is this stage will end. IT WILL END. Trust in that. It will end. You will come through this and learn to live again.

It will take some trial and error to figure out what works for you and what doesn’t, when it works and when it doesn’t. That’s part of the process (and I’m guessing that’s why I hear people say the first break-up is usually the worst: because you haven’t worked out how to cope yet).

Sometimes, you will regress. There will be times when you’ll think you’re getting the hang of it and think you’re getting better, then a particularly bad day will hit you and you’ll wonder if you’ve made any progress at all. And the answer is, yes, you’ve made progress. Sometimes you’ll have bad days that seem to come out of nowhere. That doesn’t mean you haven’t been trying or that you haven’t made improvements. It’s simply a fact of life.

I’ve, ahem,¬†created a visual to show you what the process isn’t.

nottheprocess

(Please excuse the lack of artistry; I have too many other things to do than to care about whether I’ve mastered Paint on my computer)

 

I think a lot of us expect our process to look like this. We think all we need to do is cross this line, cross a certain barrier and then we’re “fixed”, like magic, and we never go back. We’re cured! Hooray!

Except, in all likelihood, it won’t happen like that.

I think the process actually looks more like this visual from page 98 of When Love Hurts (Second Edition) by Jill Cory and Karen McAndless-Davis. The book is geared specifically towards women who have experienced abuse in a romantic relationship and I would highly recommend it to anyone who has experienced abuse, but I found this visual so helpful that I think it would apply to all kinds of losses, even ones where abuse isn’t involved.

20170827_142522

Diagram 11.1 The Healing Process, from page 98 of When Love Hurts (Second Edition) by Jill Cory and Karen McAndless-Davis

 

You see above that there is a figure eight. The top half of that figure eight is rebuilding. The bottom half is grieving. And notice that the arrows circle around and between both the top and bottom, through both grieving and rebuilding. The arrows don’t go one way. This isn’t a thing where you start out grieving and then BAM! You’re healed and you never go back. It’s a cycle. It’s a process.

How long this process lasts will vary between situations and people. Sometimes the process can be concluded in a matter of minutes. Other times it can take months, years, decades…. Sometimes it’s the rest of your life. Before you’re too disheartened at the thought of this process being lifelong, remember that rebuilding is also part of the process. There will be times where you do feel good. And the more time that goes by, the more opportunities you have to heal, you will be spending more time in that rebuilding stage and less time trudging through that grieving stage.

And there will be some periods that are worse than others. Milestones are what comes to mind. Things like his birthday, him getting a promotion at work, what would’ve been our anniversary, starting school again (this time without him to wander around campus with), etc are awful because I don’t get to share it with him anymore.

And little everyday things will sometimes get you down too. Things like my mom buying a DVD that I’d wanted to watch with him. Or listening to a CD and wishing I could listen to it with him because it’s just the sort of thing he’d like to listen to.

But it will pass. You’re not irreparably screwed up. One day, it’ll get to the point where the sad thoughts drop out of your mind as quickly as they popped into it. You’ve just got to stay alive and keep going and you’ll get there. I’m finally starting to get to that point (and I drift away from it… then come back to it…).

There might be people acting like you should be “over it” by now. But they really don’t have any right to tell you when you should get over something. Those people are likely well-intentioned and can’t bear to see you in pain, or perhaps you’re taking longer than they did to deal with it and they don’t understand why, but I find the process is something you need to go through yourself, in your own time. As already said, the length of the process will be different for each person and rushing it is not going to help you. Just trust that you will get through it. Others have done it, I’m doing it right now, and you can too.

Break-Up Drama

Well, this post has been a long time coming. My boyfriend broke up with me in January. Now it is August. I’m still not over it. See, I work with my ex-boyfriend… and his new girlfriend… and his mom. It has been an ordeal. Hands down, worst I have ever felt in my life and that is really saying something.

This is the first time I’ve been able to distance myself from it emotionally to write about it at all.

It took ages for me to even start thinking of him as my ex. We’d broken up once before and wound up getting right back together and picking up where we left off, so I didn’t really believe that this break-up would be permanent. I thought maybe once he’d had a bit of space and gotten his life together a bit more that maybe we could try again.

But then he started making moves on my co-worker, in front of me, while we were all at work. For a while, I ignored it, because surely he wouldn’t be stupid enough to jump into a new relationship when he hadn’t even worked out the conflicts in the old one (conflict being him being severely depressed and he’s lousy at dealing with it).

Then I couldn’t ignore it any longer and confronted him on it, which resulted in the most unproductive conversation I’ve ever had which did not give me any answers or solutions whatsoever and it was like talking to a brick wall because though he did pick up the phone, he gave me the silent treatment the whole time.

I then wound up talking to his new girlfriend because he wouldn’t give me the truth about what the hell was going on (she did, though), then talked to his mom, because he’d never told her the truth about our relationship and it made me uncomfortable working with her when she didn’t know the truth, and then had to talk to my boss to try and do some damage control on the situation. Did this all outside of work out in an attempt to maintain some professionalism.

I wound up switching locations to get space away from my ex and his girlfriend, which resulted in cutting back my hours and turning down what was basically a promotion. I still work half my shifts with my ex, which is bearable, but at least his girlfriend isn’t there.

Then as soon as I get switched over to the other location, his girlfriend starts hanging out there because she’s out of school now and only works part-time and apparently doesn’t have a life outside of him.

After a few weeks of this, I wound up hissing at the two of them for having no subtlety or discretion. It’s not like they’re making out or anything, but it’s still my place of work and they’re flirting in front of me and I certainly wouldn’t be behaving the way they’re behaving if I was in either of their positions. And that’s what I’m really upset about: that they aren’t treating me with the same respect and consideration that I would be treating them with if the roles were reversed. They don’t seem to grasp this concept; she got uncomfortable and booked it out of there about a sentence into this debate while my ex was a jerk about the whole thing and told me to “get over it, deal with, and grow up”, completing missing the point. This isn’t about my feelings for him but about his behaviour, then he goes making it about my feelings.

I told my best friend about it and she says, “Woah, that’s a lot of drama. And he told you to grow up?! Sounds like he’s the one who needs to grow up!”

“That’s what I told him: ‘You grow up’. Then I walked away.”

“Good for you!”

And really, it is a lot of drama. I often wave my arms around, talking to myself, and mutter, “I’m twenty-two years old! I’m too old for these high school dramatics!” And sure, he is four years my junior, but I wasn’t that bad when I was his age!

These events were spaced out over the course of six agonizing months.

This is probably the first time in my life where I’ve actually wanted to forget something. Generally, I value my memories as an important part of my identity and have no desire to part with even the negative ones because I consider them so essential to who I am, but this misery has been so all-consuming that I never want to reflect upon it again. It got to the point where I didn’t really care who I was anymore as long as I could be happy again.

A break-up is bad enough, but combine it with severe anxiety and depression and I’m amazed it didn’t kill me. Honestly, there were times when I really did think it would kill me. But, somehow, it didn’t.

See, whenever you watch a movie or read a book, the romance always ends with happily ever after, with the two happy and in love. But the thing is, it doesn’t always end that way. Honestly, I love romance (I watch, I laugh, I weep) and I love seeing the two fall in love and a movie about people falling out of love would probably be depressing to me. But the result of so many movies portraying that “happily ever after” and only that is that when you don’t get to have that, you feel really alone, like you’re the one person who can’t get what they want or need. The problem is that your loss is never really represented in storytelling and so you feel really alone.

And that’s why I’m talking about it here. Because I want you to know that it won’t kill you, and that you’re not alone in this, and that others have been as miserable as you are right now and those others have learned to be happy again. You will survive, as many have done before you, and you will one day be telling someone about how you survived, giving them the strength to go on.

And so I’ll talk about the effects the break-up and depression and anxiety has had on me, and what I’ve been doing to deal with it, but I don’t want to do that today because a) that would be one hell of a long blog post and I’m exhausted and b) this post has the backstory of my failed relationship and I want it separate from the other stuff because the other stuff is, in my view, more positive, and I don’t want it tainted with the misery of thinking about my ex and how things ended with us. So use this as a reference post because I don’t intend to talk about the whole uncomfortable situation anymore.