I tweeted this today.
I also tweeted this today.
It got me thinking.
At the time I mentioned in the first tweet you see, I firmly believed my life was over, forever. I had mentally resigned myself to pulling a Bridget Jones and living knowing that I’d end up, alone and half-eaten by Alsatians. No, really – I’d even made a weird kind of peace with it.
But what the last four and a bit years of my life (where a very musically talented person has loved me, often in spite of myself) have taught me is:
1) Life doesn’t care what you resign yourself to. It will change and probably into some sort of good thing for you, whether or not you make it happen, or not. For me, that moment in my life was actually the turning point in my life, for good. It was the very significant second which created my life path, and opened up the world I’d always wanted to be a part of, but always been too scared to admit to want to try. That moment, was when I became a writer, for real and the very first time someone paid me to do the one thing I always wanted to do with my life – write. It’s over here, for you to read.
2) You probably won’t end up half-eaten by Alsatians, cuddling a bottle of Cabernet Sauvignon. At some point, your inner self does actually go “Hey, chin up and go out, you miserable git”.
3) Which is usually the exact moment where you realise you have really incredible friends, who will not only let you blast the Michael Bolton really loudly and sit with you whilst you up the shares at Kleenex and swear off love forever. It’ll be them who also, a while later, sit with you as you assess the new romantic possibility that lands on your doorstep (because, at some point, it usually does, or – even if it doesn’t, the same friends will be sitting there assessing your new life with you, and the opportunities that present themselves beyond your breakup. Trust me, they will happen, and usually not in the way you expect).
4) I always find it hilarious when I see those “how to survive a breakup” stories or allegedly helpful lists. Nobody survives breakups, especially when you’d hedged your life on the what-actually-was-but-you-refused-to-admit-it-flimsy relationship that led up to it. Breakups are not survived – to say you survived it, means you got through it and came out the same. That is not true – breakups are lived through, and you come out the other side, remarkably changed.
5) For me, at that very vulnerable time, I turned to the things I knew I could – blogging, venting and *embarassingly so* social media. I’ve often wondered if I should delete the things I said at that time, but I’ve come to realise that they were formative moments for me. That makes them incredibly important parts of me, so I’ve kept them. Yes, even these cringeworthy ones, where I just posted lyrics of other people’s songs because they meant the world to me at the time. It is absolutely impossible to see past those moments, at that time, and that’s okay.
6) Because it was then that I taught myself how to focus the attention away from pain, and allow myself to indulge in a little stupidity. Not even stupidity, more like things-that-mean-something-to-me-and-nobody-else (but which my best friends applaud me for doing, rather than laughing at me for them).
7) There is no flippant or easy-fix way to live through something as big as that. That old adage of “the best way to get over something is to get under something else”, (yes, I went there) is really just siff and I loathe it. Also, it just screws up your healing process. I don’t recommend it to anyone in pain, because it’s usually just a strange pathway to crap backlash.
8) At some point, when you get beyond the gulping first bits of a breakup, you learn to breathe again. You don’t even notice it, at first (your friends will, before you do, and beam at you, and you’ll wonder why – they won’t tell you, but they will beam). And slowly the breathing turns to smiling, and the smiling turns to…a reality you were not expecting.
9) I am a complete believer in the overly-dramatic expressions, so long as you don’t lash out at the person you just split up with or make a complete anus out of yourself publicly. Crying on your friend’s shoulder and venting it out in blogposts and stuff like that is cool. Sending your ex 85 psychotic text messages and numerous 2am phonecalls is not. When the breakup I mention in this post happened, I changed my ex’s number to my best friend’s on my phone, so my BFF got all the ranty texts, and my ex was none the wiser. It worked, and I’m so grateful I did it. You’re allowed a certain level of pathetic when you split up. You’re not, however, allowed to lose your class – you won’t prove a thing to or of anyone that way, least of all yourself.
10) Oh, and my last rule – understand that this is a grief process. Grief isn’t something you work through and then it’s gone forever. It’s akin to losing a friend, a family member or a pet. What you learn from it, will live with you for the rest of your life, and become a personal touchstone. It will not, however, define you forever.
Trust me on this one. I promise.
(Sidenote – I wrote this today, because someone dear to me is battling through one of these moments. I don’t know their circumstances or intimate details, but I wanted to say it to them today, in the way I know best).
7 thoughts on “ten rules for recuperating.”
Love what you said about not ‘surviving’ a break up. We are forever changed. But this needn’t be bad. You are a wise woman Cath Jenkin x
Cath, love this post! Torn was also a song that got my daughter through her rape some years ago. I still listen to it now and then as a reminder and marvel at how far she has come since then.
Big love. X
Thank you for this …
Makes me feel some what normal.
You’re completely normal. And human. I like that.
Love your post. And I just realised now how far this is all behind me. How huge these things were and how they now pale in the light of a loving relationship