Saturday, 16 March 2013

VII) Breaking Free

Break ups are not always a part of depression.
You don't need depression to break up with someone, or to be affected by a break up.
You can have depression and choose to never date anybody, or you can be with one partner for all time, without ever experiencing the malady of breaking up.

But break-ups are a part of life for most people, and for those with depression, each bump in the road is felt ten fold. So here is my experience with breaking up. Seen through the eyes of depression yes, but treated for what it is... heart break and sadness.. not clinical depression. Yes my response to it may be more extreme.. but I do not doubt that the pain I feel right now, is any more or less than the pain depression-less people feel in the same situation. Break-ups HURT. Full stop.
This post is going to be directed at the feelings the break up cause though, rather than on solutions to fixing things or getting over things... but instead on how you can manage the pain and heartache felt, until it subsides and you can deal with things and see things in a more manageable light.

This is the reality I am living, and it is the first time I have ever truly experienced a break-up worth crying over. So I shall share my experiences and the lessons I am learning, maybe it will help ease someone else's pain, or make someone feel like they are not alone. Or perhaps it will just be a cautionary tale... but here it is.

For me, the first stage of the breaking apart, was switching off.
Things get rocky, and life gets hard for long enough, and you just become too tired to try any longer. Guilt creeps in, guilt tugs at your sleeve and sits on your shoulder whispering in your ear as you try and sleep. It is all you can do to function, so you have to block it out, switch it off.. close your eyes to the walls closing in around you. BREATHE.

Usually if someone in the relationship isn't happy, it would be cause for a discussion.. you might ignore it for a short time, but it always boils over, until you deal with it in some form, maybe writing a letter, maybe acting out, maybe a yelling match, maybe some silent treatment thrown in for good measure.. but a resolution would be reached.
When you care about someone, you just can't go about your day knowing things aren't A-Okay. It weighs heavily on your mind.
But after a time, especially without any outside help, the problems can feel like they are just stuck on repeat, you sweep them under the carpet, because that hill you have to climb together, may feel more like a mountain by now, and it may feel like one of you is trying harder than the other, perhaps even one of you is having to do all the work, carrying the other upon their back, along with all the other commitments you both share in your lives, the burden is heavy.
Eventually something has got to give. Either the person doing all the carrying is going to collapse from exhaustion, or they are going to drop all the burdens they carry to the ground and say "I can't do this any more  I just don't have the energy, I don't have the strength, and I don't have the will to do it any more"
It is at this point, that you might, just might, get left sitting on the side of a mountain. Miles from the top, miles from the bottom, tonnes of baggage at your side.. and all you can do is sit and cry and watch your partner walking off into the sunset.. on their way to the top, without you this time.

Now somewhere along the way, resentment has seeped in. Love has lost it's lustre, maybe trusts have been or both of you has hurt the other, inadvertently, purposely or just simply they didn't have the energy to care about the effects it might have.... and now the world you once knew is crumbling down around your ears. It is enough to make even the most stable person forget how to breath.
When trust is broken, it is hard to ever really get it back. Can you ever really look at that person in the same light? They say forgiveness is key, but can you ever really forget?

Maybe you deserve it. Deserve to be there in the snow, halfway up a mountain, alone, after all YOU switched off.. YOU disassociated  YOU gave up on finding a fix, maybe you were so focused on how badly you were coping, that you forgot about THEIR needs. But you can't help feeling abandoned.
In my experience with depression... seeing someone give up on ME, causes me to give up on me too.
It was scary enough, tiring enough, hard enough to fight to survive on my own, how am I supposed to do it now??? All. By. Myself.

But just because you have lost your climbing partner, doesn't mean you cannot reach the summit. Maybe you will catch up with them, and carry on together to the top, or maybe you will take a different path, meet different people, have a different journey. You probably don't see it now, but rest a while, because energy will return, the will to survive will return, and you will be able to get up, and keep on going, one foot in front of the other, just focus on moving forward  don't worry about the destination just yet.. just keep moving, and breathing and keep yourself safe.

Doesn't mean it isn't hard, or heart breaking.
The second phase I went through was reluctance to let go.
Despite the fact the trust was gone, the love was one-sided, the desire to make things work was missing. It broke my heart to think of letting go of all those memories.
We were happy once, if we had grown out of love, surely we could go the other way too?
They say marriages take work... then why can't we just dig ourselves in, and work hard at keeping things together.. and eventually the love may come back? the animosity may dissipate? the trust may return? the hearts may heal?

But you cannot force love.
No matter how badly you want things to 'go back' - no matter how badly you want to feel something for someone, or they for you, because you can see the pain the other person feels when you cannot return the sentiment.
You either have to be open to seeing if it will return of it's own accord with time, and with effort.
Or you are over it.
Just well and truly, simply, done.
And if one person is done, and you force them to remain, they will resent you, and resent everything that is holding them there, until they can be set free.

So how do you decide when something is done and dusted? ridden into the dirt? over cooked and fizzled out? When do you stop and say "we are just going around in circles here, we need to stop"
What counts as sufficient effort? How do you know when you have tried enough, or tried too much?
Why is there no easy way to measure these things?

I don't know. I wish I did.
Instead I am trying to live by a few simple guidelines.

  1. If you feel like you have to talk them into loving you, convince them they have feelings for you, then they probably don't. Even if they do, even if they are just in denial... you are worth more than that. You should never be with someone who doesn't express love for you, verbally, or with their actions. So if it feels loveless, it probably is. Tell yourself "I am worth loving" and start with yourself.
  2. Life isn't easy. Good things take time, be prepared to put in some hard work. Short term gain never lasts, and it will not make you happy in the long run. Getting back together without fixing any problems, just because you are scared of being apart, will not be a positive move long term. Nor will running out and sleeping with everything that moves. Try being alone for a while.
  3. Try thinking about how you want to change for you. Can you look in the mirror and say you are happy with the person you are being, the decisions you have been making? Would you want to see your actions reflected in your children... what would you say to them if they were acting the way you were right now? How will you feel about your actions a day from now? a week? a month? a year? 
  4. Everyone makes mistakes. Everyone acts selfishly at some point or another... often it is for self preservation. Is their selfish behaviour hurting you right now? can you think of a time when YOU were selfish? what effects did it have on them? did they forgive you? Even if they didn't, maybe you can better understand their need to be selfish, maybe you can share with them your experience with selfishness, and how you lived to really regret it.. or maybe it was what you really needed at the time... perhaps they really need it too?
  5. Saying goodbye. Maybe you can fix things, counselling is always a good option... but I think it is important to come to terms with the fact that it might NOT work out. You can try, and you can be as determined as you like on your end to make things run smoothly... but you cannot carry them for ever. Partnerships are about being strong when the other can't. Maybe you can love enough for both of you, maybe you can stay positive and strong and determined in the wake of their weakness, but you need to decide for yourself where to draw the line. When is enough enough? you deserve to be loved by someone who WANTS to fight for you, who wants to see it through, who won't walk away when the going gets tough. By all means be compassionate and understanding of your partners weaknesses - but do not settle.
  6. Remember life is not Hollywood.
    It isn't all champagne and roses, and it isn't all smooth sailing. Relationships take WORK, and if you can't put in the effort, then you aren't going to get much out of it. It works that way for your partner too.. if they can't give you the effort you deserve, then you need to look in the mirror and say "I deserve better".
    It's true, you do. You deserve to get as good as you give. And if they aren't willing to put 100% effort into fixing things... then let them go..
Break free.
It will hurt, but it will get better.... it is a total cliche but time heals.... the pain lessens day by day. And remember, you are worth fighting for.

Remember break ups are a world of hurt, so you need to focus on things that make you feel good. Not things to just plug the hole. Alcohol, drugs, sex, addictions of any kind, all these short term fillers, have negative side effects.. either for yourself, or the other person involved, even for your friends, family, maybe kids if you have them.. it all takes it's toll. So try and make wise decisions. Pick things that make you feel good, but remember the rule, how will you feel about this later down the track? 
Also remember while this person may have represented everything that was good in the world at one point, you are a single entity.. and you need to be able to define who you are WITHOUT them too. Are you scared of losing someone you love? or are you maybe also a little scared of losing a part of yourself? a part of your identity?
Stay strong, even though you may feel like you are missing a limb right now, you can still be the person you want to be without someone by your side.

Hate is a powerful emotion that can often stem from love and frustration, but it is tiring, it takes up so much effort and power from your life, sapping you of all that is good so don't let it control you. 
It is easy to fall prey to the power-plays, the jealousy, the confusion and pain of separating out your things, separating out your friends. Watching your plans for the future float away like smoke on the wind. But getting even, or getting petty will not make you feel better. It might for a minute, it might be a distraction, but at the end of the day you are still going to feel empty, after you poured all that hate out. Eventually you will tire of being so consumed with rage, and that gaping hole will still be there... as raw and fresh as it ever was.

So start NOW on healing it.

Clich├ęs are going to be thrown your way, left right and centre  and if you aren't groaning outwardly you will at least be inwardly. It feels like people maybe don't even care when you receive flippant comments like "oh well, it happens" or "it will get better"
But remember that your friends and family cannot fix this for you. I am sure if they could they would! it is hard to watch a friend going through pain, especially when you are helpless to fix it.
You may feel like your friends are avoiding you, perhaps because you are being such a sad sack. But it isn't always because they don't care, in fact it is most likely the opposite. The longer you take to come to terms with a break-up, the more helpless they feel. Friends and family can cheer you up, and provide distractions, but they cannot do the healing for you, they can not provide closure and put you in a better headspace, if you aren't willing to embrace the idea yourself.

So embrace those cheesy slogans.. the reason you keep hearing them is because they are mostly true.
It DOES take time, just like a graze on your elbow takes time to heal over, for the skin to repair and the body to fight off infection - your heart takes time too.. give it time.. what can you do to allow yourself time to heal?

Maybe you could ask the other person to wait for a certain amount of time before seeing other people. Maybe you could take some time out to focus on another area of your life, something that you are good at or feel good while doing.
Maybe you could set yourself a time frame for wallowing, maybe one week of pyjamas and girly movies time, and then it is onwards and upwards?
It doesn't mean it will stop hurting - little things will probably trigger you off for a long long time to come. But when your heart has healed (and it will) it will be open to finding new love, one day, down the track. Whether that is a new partner, or a new passion, a new career, a new friend. Maybe just a love for yourself. Either way.. 

"There will come a time, you'll see, with no more tears. And love will not break your heart, but dismiss your fears." - Mumford & Sons.

You WILL love again,
You WILL trust again,
You WILL laugh again.
You WILL be happy,

Just take.your.time.
You will get there, there is no fast forward in life... so live it with your eyes wide open.... because life hurts, but it is real, it is truth, and to feel this depth of pain, will only make the happiness you feel later in life feel so much bigger and better, because it will be so far from here, so far from the depths of despair, that you will feel on top of the world.


Sarah x


  1. What can I say...? are truly beautiful. You are a strengthening, warming guiding-light in the midst of the dissorienting fog of gloom.

    As I said to you in person, you are in my closest circle of friends...the ones I will do ANYTHING to help. Say it and I will do for you. You are so special. This blogg post only goes to reaffirm this belief I have in you.

    I sincerely hope time will heal. You are so worth it. You are a beautiful person...inside and out. From one friend to another...
    I love you.

    Kia kaha, my dear.


  2. I started reading this entry while Sam was in the room, but I had to stop until he left because I could feel the tears coming on.

    You're such an amazing person, and it breaks my heart that this is happening to you. But the fact that you're amazing is probably the reason why I have all the faith in the world that you will come out on the other side of this even more amazing.

    And thank you. This is going to stick with me if I ever have to experience another break-up in my lifetime. <3