Another lifetime ago, I was heart deep in one of the most destructive relationships on the planet. I’m talking Chris Brown and Rihanna level of bad, sans the physical violence. My heart took a beating, my ass however was intact. Still, it was bad.
Honestly, the book on toxic relationships was based on that.
The guide on how to self-sabotage like a MF, slam doors, smash phones, cry a river for a second change – I mean a gazillionth change – just to mess it up even the next day was also inspired by the love story I ended – thank God – 10 years ago.
To this day, the final breakup, was one of the proudest moments of my life.
Even more so, finding the strength NOT to go back, NOT to fall for the love notes, I’m sorry surprises or desperate tries to convince my closest friends about the amazing change that fell upon him, was the most badass thing I ever did. Still complimenting myself for that.
We dated for almost 5 years.
We broke up nearly 20 times. So, a better way of putting it would be “we spent 5 years breaking up, again and again” until my heart couldn’t take it any more.
The truth is we were never a good match. We had insane chemistry and loads of passion. But not the same values, not the same life vision. He was the bad guy that lived 100 miles an hour, I was the good girl he would always come back to.
Call me old fashion, but a bad boy turning good for the one he loves gets me every single time.
So I chose to believe the fantasy. To trust his apologies, to grant second chances like free coupons. To believe in what I thought he can become, and not in what he really was. Falling in love with potential blew up in my face, big time.
We broke it up fo’ real when he left me on New Year’s Day to go pursue just one of his many passions. We were at a cabin, in the mountains, with all our friends. We spent New Year’s Eve together, and the next morning he was gone. Took the car and left me to catch a ride with one of the other people there. It wasn’t the first time he left me to do his own thing, but this time, I decided I had enough.
Alone, all cried out and deeply ashamed to face my friends was not the way envisioned starting a new year. I deserved better. I knew that, but now, I had no choice but to face the truth.
2 years of “please take me back”, “I’m a changed man”, “I can’t live without you” followed.
I almost fell into the on-again-off-again soul-sucking vortex when his grandfather died. But after carrying him through the grieving process, and almost opening to the possibility of another chance, I quickly snapped out of it.
At the first embryonic sign of his old ways that made my self esteem shrink to subatomic particle size, I closed that door for good. I was done with self-flagellation and with finding excuses for bad behavior.
Most importantly, I was done with bad decisions.
I have to come clean: since the whole Bennifer thing exploded, I’m cringing.
I’m twisting and turning inside, like an old coffee grinder.
I wanna call my girl Jen – who I absolutely love to death – and reminder just how amazing she is. I’m sure She knows. Everybody knows. But that’s what I feel like doing. I’d tell her kudos for making A Rod jealous – karma’s a bitch, bro!, but also to give the breakup some time to breathe.
Getting back with an ex, even if you’re JLO, even if it’s been 17 years, even when the world has a meltdown over your breakup or is holding its breath until your next move, is a big deal.
Before getting back with an old flame, ask yourself these 5 questions (JLO, if you’re listening, I swear I mean well!)
1). Do you want him back or want the pain to stop?
Even if it was the right thing to do, breakups still hurt like hell.
Instead of instant relief, you go through regret, followed by a string of drunken nights out with your friends, the 3 a.m. “I miss you” text, contemplating a relapse-hookup that would surely turn your insides inside out. You might squeeze a new haircut in between. And some social media stalk.
When you’re in the midst of the brutal breakup malaxor, getting back together with your ex acts like a fast-action soothing balm.
It stops the pain, the sobbing, the second-guessing.
So, the end question is: do you really want him back or do you want the pain to stop? Is the breakup a mistake or are you just heartbroken?
2). What caused the breakup in the first place?
In other worlds, double check your reasons again.
Reasons before results. Always.
Infidelity, trust issues, lack of a common vision, poor communication, ego? What was it that brought you here? Can it be amended? And are you BOTH willing to put in the work?
Did the relationship run its course or is this just a rough patch?
Are there recurrent reasons for your big fights?
The answers behind these types of questions are rife with realizations.
Also, please know this: your partner doesn’t have to be a bad person or do anything wrong for you to want the relationship to end. The fact that you feel that is what you have to do is reason enough. That doesn’t make you a monster! Sure, it’s easier to justify the decision if he’s an asshole, but toxic relationships with good people are still bad. Honor your truth.
3). What does your future together look like, for real?
This right here fueled my spirit to stick to the decision of leaving and never looking back.
I stopped feeling bad for myself the minute I did this exercise. I closed my eyes and imagined what my future life is going to look like if I ended up with my ex. I wasn’t going for the fairy tale version, the one that tricks into believing that everything will be ok in time, or with a marriage, a kid, a white-fence house. No, I’m talking about how life would look like if we wouldn’t change a thing.
20 years in the future, I’d be telling my kid about all the early signs I never paid attention to. I’d still be in tears. Most probably, divorced. Torn apart by guilt, shame and the remorse of never listening to my gut. Or of wasting all those years on fake promises.
I saw myself miserable. The only way to stop that future from becoming a reality was to take action now. To change. To decide. To put yourself first and work towards a better life.
4). Are you ready to forgive him and forgive yourself?
Breakups are not about revenge, who calls first, who hooks up faster.
They’re about forgiveness. That’s what you need, regardless if you’re going to work it out or erase any signs of your ex’s existence.
And it’s not about forgiving the other person, but also, living with all the shitty things you pulled. Not only upon the relationships, but upon yourself.
Forgiving means letting go. For good. Empathy, kindness, strength and superhuman patience need to be in play, all the time. It’s a delicate process.
5). What does your post-breakup life look like?
Not waxing, not going out, eating hot wings in bed for 3 months in a row? Listening to sad music and deleting old photos? Escaping into a dark hole, away from the world, was not the reason you made this daring move, remember?
You decided you deserve better.
Does that look like singing “Big Girls Don’t Cry” from the top of your lungs for 30 days straight? Or were you envisioning something more?
While I’m all for doing whatever feels good for a while, don’t let that eclipse everything else you got going on in your life. Remember, you were an amazing person before meeting your ex. You had dreams, hobbies, friends. Elbow your way back to the most authentic version of yourself or build a new one, from the ground up.
When you’re at rock bottom, any step is a step in the right direction.
Maybe you’ll find that being in a relationship ate up a lot of your time, and you never got to do all those things you always said you would. I’m betting you have a list of unread books just waiting for you to immerse your focus in.
Maybe you’re on your own for the first time, in a long time. Explore that. Take up dance lessons, workout, read, join a new class, write, bake, sign up to a 30 day challenge, hang out with your friends.
You might get back with your ex or not.
But for you to have a standing chance, know that it has to be a new relationship.
Don’t resume it right where you broke off, don’t expect to pick up where you left off.
Getting back with an ex is one thing.
Starting a new chapter with the person from your past is a whole different language you’ll have to master.
Take your time, be kind to yourself and never base a decision on fear. EVER.