We’d had a blowout fight right before I had to leave for class. We’d had plenty of these before –long distance relationships can do that to a couple–but we’d always recover quickly. We’d laugh at how stubborn I was, how righteous he was and then get on Skype and binge watch The Office together. Blowout fights were no big deal; it was because of our unconditional love that we felt safe duking it out, knowing it wouldn’t change the relationship or how we felt about each other.
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But this one was different. It was the way he said, “I just can’t do this anymore” before we hung up. On February 13th, I drove to my night class wondering if this was it. The longer I sat in class, the more I knew it was over. It was like Jell-O slowly congealing in the refrigerator but much less sweet. Classmates would talk to me, and I’d just look through them, not knowing what they said, nodding, hoping that would suffice as an answer.
By the time I got home, it was 12:00 pm in Austin, where he lived. Officially Valentine’s Day. I picked up the phone with shaky hands.
I was right, it was over. My three-year relationship was done.
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The next day, curled up in bed and exhausted from crying, my roommate came in with a delivery for me. It was a teddy bear and candy. The card read: “Happy Valentine’s. I can’t imagine a life without you. I’ll love you forever.” The post mark was from three days ago. I asked her to put the lie on the floor, and she left.
It’s been four years since that Valentine’s Day, and I’d like to think that massacre of a holiday taught me a thing or two. So, in case you might be going through something too, here are the little shards of treasures I picked up after everything shattered.
1. Long drives and music can save you
When The Breakup happened, I was currently living in Orange, CA and commuting to LA twice a week for an internship. Two hours in a car with all your thoughts? Well, that was pure torture. I’d turn on the radio only to turn it off. Every song was about us. Eventually though, I could make it through a few songs and then the whole commute. Taylor Swift and Tim McGraw’s “Highway Don’t Care” had just come out. I swear it was written for me and this breakup. Just this past year that song came on while I was with my mom, and I told her it was the song that got me through that breakup. “Oh I remember,” she said.
2. Mom calls are literally the best
When I couldn’t muster up the strength to listen to the radio, I’d call my mom. We’d talk for hours (Sorry, mom. That must have been torture for you). But through those calls, I could process my thoughts, game plans, and anger. Moms are so gosh darn patient. In fact, go text your mom and tell her you appreciate her right now. Do it!
3. Let that sh*t go
It was on one of those VERY long phone calls with my mom that I said, “I’m done. If he doesn’t want this, I’m done fighting. I’m too tired.” She agreed. When I got home I called him. “You’re free,” I said. “It’s okay, I understand. I respect your decision.” When I hung up, all the weight I’d been carrying, produced from trying to control our future outcome, lifted off of me, evaporating into the California air. This is the moment you begin to heal, the moment you loosen your tight grip and accept you don’t know what the hell will happen, all you have is the reality of the present moment.
4. Fried food (and friends) REALLY help
No one wants to end up at a Ruby’s Diner on Valentine’s Day night. But that’s where I was. My new friend Jaz offered to meet me there. She showed up with a single daisy for me. She handed it me, nervous for my reaction. Would I break down because this daisy should have been from him? That single stem made my night. I was so touched by her thoughtfulness. And let me tell you, the fries and chicken strips with five sides of ranch didn’t hurt either. Jaz and I were just getting to know each other that night, but we’re now going on six years of friendship, and I now consider her one of my best friends.
5. Time heals all
When you’re going through a breakup, the last thing you want to hear is, “It will get better with time.” But the truth is, no matter what the traumatic event, it will get better and so will you. So if you’re going through something right now, hold on baby girl, this too shall pass.
P.S. If you’re wondering how it all turned out, he eventually wanted to get back together. And we really did give it a good try. Turns out though, at the same internship I was driving to every day, a guy was waiting for me. We’ve been together almost four years now, but that’s a story for another day.