Last December, I got chatting to a work colleague who had recently experienced a break up. She mentioned how hard she was finding Christmas. As she spoke to me, I became aware that she kept using the word “only.” The cause for her heartbreak was “only” a boyfriend, that they had “only” been together for a matter of months. I quickly realised that, because she was aware of my own experience, with my ex-husband, she seemed to be downgrading her own pain, her own loss and sadness. I could see what a difficult and painful place she was in and it made me feel sad and uncomfortable that she felt the need to downplay the hurt that she was feeling. No one should feel the need to downplay their pain or weigh it against that of someone else.
As we spoke, I said to her, “listen, please don’t keep saying ‘only’ love is love and a loss is a loss. You are broken hearted.” I wanted her to know that she shouldn’t downgrade her broken heart. My heart ached for her and I found myself wanting to say all that I could to ease her pain. I felt myself summoning up all the words from the books and web articles that helped me, I even found myself quoting my own words, from this blog, to try and settle her mind.
I spoke to her about finding her strength, that even though she wouldn’t believe it now, one day she would be okay. More than okay. I spoke to her of her worth and value, that she deserved to be treated with love and respect. Whilst she nodded and listened I could sense there were other questions she was wanting to ask. Questions bubbling up within her from the words I was saying. I could also sense some uncertainty and reluctance to receive my certainty and positivity that she would be okay. That she would one day be in a place where she would feel very different to the place she was currently in.
I know talking of recovery from heartbreak, of a life beyond him or her can be an uncomfortable notion for those in the dark fog of recent heartbreak. Perhaps because moving beyond them is a result ultimately achieved by leaving behind or letting go. My work colleague wasn’t yet in a place to do either. That place that can only be reached with time and healing.
I know too well this feeling. I know too well the total preoccupation to hold onto the one you love, the one that’s left you. Of “winning” them back. For me, it was like a puzzle that I needed to crack. If I could just solve the Rubik’s cube of my husbands motivations. If I could just crack the code and find the right thing to do or say that would spark a feeling within him, that would make him think of me, miss me, want me.
In those early stages, there can be so much confusion and bewilderment and often there are key questions that haunt the mind. Why? Do they still love me? Will they will regret their actions? Will they ever come back? I knew too well that horrible place where sleep, peace and stability leave you only to be replaced with pain, turmoil and the unknown.
As I spoke to my colleague and empathised with her pain, I shifted back to that place in my mind, that dark place, where it’s all so raw and you feel so desperate to have their love in your life and yet you feel it leaving you. That powerless place.
I really hope what I told my colleague helped her in some small way. For me, speaking with her got me thinking about my own initial shock and loss. The denial I swirled in, the lengths I went to to try and ease my mind. I remembered that the main source of help I turned to in those early days was the internet.
The internet provides such a far reaching resource that we can access when dealing with heartbreak. With several taps, we can plug into countless tales of heart ache, grit, recovery and experience. Stories, articles, information that can offer us support, reassure us, guide us through the logistical unknowns and help us plan our own recovery.
I know this is going to sound like such an odd thing to do, but I wanted to list some of my google searches (aside from searches for legal information) from those early days, to give you an idea of where my head was at. Here they are:
- Early mid life crisis in men
- Sudden Change in personality in husband
- Husband left suddenly
- Says he loves me but has left me
- Husband says he loves me but not in love with me
- Knee jerk reactions to being caught cheating
- How do I stop my husband leaving?
- How to save your marriage
- Do affairs last?
- Does infatuation last?
- How to make him see he is making a mistake leaving me?
- Will he find the grass isn’t greener?
- Do people regret leaving their partner for someone else?
- Will he regret leaving me for another woman?
- Do those that file for divorce regret it?
- Do those that divorce their spouse for another regret it?
- Do relationships that begin with affairs last?
- If someone once loved you, will they always love you?
The reason I wanted to give a snap shot into some of my searches is to demonstrate the sheer hunger I had for one single piece of information that I might find to offer some hope. To give my weary soul a break, even for just a moment, and assure me that my life wasn’t about to fall apart. I look at this list and I can see the clear currents running beneath each desperately typed question; fear, denial, not wanting to let go, not wanting life to change.
Those internet searches became my obsession. I wrote them down, bookmarked them when they yielded a helpful piece of advice. I would flit between the pages, take screen grabs, email myself articles and memorise the words of the ones that offered me hope.
For me, in those early stages, information was like a like a powerful sedative that helped quieten my speeding mind.
When you are in such shock and confusion you are desperate to make the puzzle pieces fit. The information offered in the form of web articles, forums, blogs, YouTube videos, seemed to help fill in some of the gaps, they shed light on the things that my brain wasn’t yet processing or understanding.
If I could just find the right piece of information I might find some reassurance that I wasn’t worthless, that the marriage I had lived, the life I had lived hadn’t been a lie. I also see now that, for some reason, I was preoccupied with the “regret” he would one day feel. I think what he had done to me had been such a shocking betrayal and his behaviour so cruel, that everything just felt so unjust. I needed to be reassured that whatever happened in the hear and now, there would be some justice. That even if it was just in the form of him realising and experiencing his own emotional fallout and regret for his decisions and brutal dismissal of me, that there would still be some distant kind of revenge for the way he treated me. I know that might not sound very Christian of me, but I have to be honest and in the midst of the pain and shock and cruelness of it all I really needed to know that.
It is for all the above reasons that I decided to write a post called, “The Grass Isn’t Always Greener.” Of all of my posts, it is this one that has the highest view count. It is the post that often leads others, maybe in their own search for the balm of information, to stumble upon my little blog.
I am pleased to say, my search terms are very different nowadays and are more focused on pursuing my dreams, the passions and hobbies I am pursuing, becoming healthier and happier. If what we search for online is a reflection of the place we are in, then I feel relieved that they have become focused on me and not on him.
Refocusing our love, attention and care towards ourselves is one of the first important steps in overcoming heartbreak. It takes time, healing and self love but it is so very vital.
I wrote this post initially for myself, not even sure if I would post it, but I realise that it isn’t just me that will trawl through the internet in search of some relief from heartbreak but so many others too. I wanted to say to others, much like my work colleague, that if your internet search has somehow brought you to this blog, please know that the actions of your partner don’t define or change the truth of what your marriage or relationship was to you. Their actions and behaviour doesn’t change who you were in your marriage or relationship, no matter what they want to present. And the actions and behaviour of your partner certainly do not reflect your worth or value just their character.
You are precious. You are worth being missed. You are worth their future regret. You are worth so much more than their behaviour. You are worth looking after yourself. You are worth hope and the promise of a better tomorrow. You are worth future love. You are worth being told that you will find a strength that you don’t even know you possess and that, even though you might not believe it right now, one day you will be okay.