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Anxiety Quest

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After a Breakup

We were in middle school. She was a blonde, beautiful baton twirler. She became my first long-term girlfriend. She enjoyed talking to me and, eventually, teaching me to kiss. At Christmas, she gave to me my first piece of jewelry, an ID bracelet engraved with my name, probably the most expensive gift I’d ever received. I wore it with pride as a symbol of love until the day she broke up with me.

After she told me she wanted an older guy, I ran through the hall at school crying like a little boy. Some guy I didn’t know asked me, “What’s wrong?” I couldn’t breathe or answer him, so I gave him the bracelet and ran. I never saw him or the bracelet again.

First girlfriend. First breakup. First experience of a broken heart. First time to feel what it means to be a loser, because I did lose her.

Over the years I have suffered other breakups, even a divorce, with some common patterns of grief:

  • shock and disbelief such a surprise could really be true
  • denial about how much it hurt to be rejected by someone who knows you best
  • feeling alone, without that special person, and without former friends lost in the breakup
  • a lot of anger because it seems unfair to be discarded, powerless, helpless and frustrated
  • asking questions trying to make peace with a decision you can’t understand
  • recruiting help to tell your side of the story seeking relief from any blame on your part
  • admitting some mistakes and not getting another chance to make things right

After other breakups though, I have felt a sense of relief, like when an engagement ring was thrown at me in a fit of rage never before displayed. Or, a shocking first kiss revealing the lady deceived me about her smoking. And, a lady who stood me up for our second and third dates, then got drunk on our fourth. Roy Clark released a country song, “Thank God and Greyhound You’re Gone” during my long divorce process, making humor and laughter seem like the best medicine. 

Romeo and Juliet are the poster children for worst possible response to the end of a relationship. Even if someone you love doesn’t, or doesn’t any longer, love you, you don’t deserve the death penalty. After some breakups, people have felt so sad they do not believe they will have love or happiness again and consider the death penalty. Feeling like a loser can be so painful people want to end the pain, numb it with addictions, or distract with a rebound relationship. None of those are good options.

If a broken heart is negatively affecting your life right now, call the Healthy Counseling Center for help at (509) 466-6632.


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