After splitting up five months ago, I just found out my ex is already living with someone else.
In a way, I’m grateful for the news. Nothing so clearly highlights why we’re the wrong people for each other, and our split was the right choice. I believe that painful emotions like grief and loss need to be deeply felt to receive the gifts they have; he doesn’t have a philosophy on emotions.
I can know all of the reasons we’re not suited, and it still really hurts. Seeing him move on so quickly felt like I was alone in believing our relationship held the deep and rare connection that it did. How do you honor the passing of something beautiful if not by mourning?
When we first made the decision to split up, I cried and roared and ached for weeks after I left our home. I was a well-greased faucet, one little flick away from a torrent. But I wasn’t nearly as sad as when I found out he was already moving in with someone else.
In the interim, between breaking up and him dating again, we moved really easily into friendship. Our final months in a romantic relationship never got ugly; we just no longer shared that deep closeness we knew was a non-negotiable. The decision to split was mutual; the friendship and admiration remained. How mutually and kindly we broke up only affirmed my thoughts on the specialness of our bond. There was a strange new friendship afterward; our connection changed but lived on all the same. We continued to share pictures of the dogs, and check in on each other’s projects. We were in our singleness and strange newness together.
But he really left when he found her. My newfound pain shocked me. Hadn’t I processed all this grief? I had stopped crying over us a month ago and was getting a shaky handhold on making a new life. But no, I hadn’t ever really let him go then, had I?
By not being in the same emotional place as me and grieving in the same way, I felt abandoned. My new well of sadness had a message for me: you have more degrees of surrender still.
And now, emerging out of another pit of grieving, I am surprised to find gratitude, too, in my chest. Glad to be confronted with where attachment still lived. I do fully want to let him go. I can feel these energetic cords where I’ve been giving myself to him, and when I forgive and let him go, a piece of me comes back to me, and I feel powerful.
Like many women who grew up with an emotionally distant father, I learned to come too close and invade in order to get affection and praise. I had been doing this same emotional work for him, spending much of my energy attuned to the minutia of his problems, and figuring out how to heal him so he could give me what I want. I am calling that energy back now, flooding my own circuits with it, and getting so versed in my own language of emotion and attention.
I am braving my pain enough to sit in its fire and learn its gold.
I have big compassion for my ex after going through this. It is really hard work to feel all of my feelings. And it turns out I wasn’t doing such a good job of it when we were together.
I ignored my own feelings and directed that energy toward solving his so he could then give me the soothing I craved.
But you know what? Now I keep going to the source and feeling my feelings, and—miracle of miracles—it keeps not killing me. I’ve discovered a place inside myself so big that it can hold grief and sadness and ache and joy and gratitude. This is where the heart of my love is, and I am stunned at the depth that I can hold.
My attention is back to where it never should have left, and now that I am watching, I am awed at my nascent self. I can’t seem to help but be amazed when I stay here, with myself. And then, there is this chest full, deep love for the staying.
I can stay with myself. When it gets hard, or when it is beautiful, I can stay with myself.
It turns out I’m also in a new relationship. And I’m moving all the way in.