Last fall when I lived in Houston, I was driving down yet another congested city freeway when a song reverberated through the car speakers that caught my attention. I think Spotify’s Discover Weekly playlist knew more that I like acoustic music than that I had just been through a break up, but the lyrics certainly hit home.
“If good love has gone away but it wasn’t by choice – If it’s out of your hands but you just can’t let go… Oh I know these days are hard, and I know it’s hard to last. But believe you me, just sturdy up your heart, and this too shall pass.”
I have replayed those verses in my head countless times this past year. Others have affirmed the same message. “It will get better. Promise :).”
Thankfully, the words of that song I heard so many months ago are finally beginning to ring true: this too shall pass. I am okay now. I used to wonder how long it would take for me to get through one week, and then one month, without having a Dan-related breakdown. Eventually, it happened. It didn’t feel like such a big milestone, because the grief of the breakup didn’t have the same grip on me that it had once had. I realized last week as I drove home from a full day at school that hours had gone by when I had not thought about Dan. Teaching was by far the most pressing concern. It sounds kind of pitiful, but it’s a significant step.
Getting to that point has been a long process. Slowly, I have made headway; each month goes faster, and Dan feels a little more distant. I have asked a lot of questions, and shed a lot of tears.
When?! When will it pass? How long, O Lord? Surely I should be better by now. Why does my heart still hurt? Where is my joy? Why can’t I move on? I’m sad and pissed and frustrated. Time makes my heart stretch in two directions; the days march forward, while I vainly cling to what is becoming a fleeting memory.
I miss him. I miss my best friend. I miss our easy companionship, the happiness and laughter he brought me, his sensitivity and encouragement and love of adventure, even his sarcasm. I miss his family, and I don’t want to lose him; I didn’t choose this! But I’m angry that I miss him, too, and I have to – need to – let go, even though I don’t want to. I know he hated hurting me, but it’s so flippin’ unfair that he is fine. Meanwhile, I’m still just trying to keep my head above water and not drown in my sorrows. I want the sadness to go away; I want to be okay on my own again.
It has been nearly eight months since the break up. For bystanders, it may seem like a past event, something that came and went. Oh yeah, I forgot they even dated. But when you’re the one who got hit by a metaphorical bus, recovery is slow going.
I don’t mean to be dramatic; I know others endure far worse types of suffering. If I am honest, though, wrestling this pain and trying to move on has been my defining personal battle every single day since late September.
Even just a few weeks after the breakup, I could go about my daily life and really be happy. But with every quiet time or slower moment of reflection, my heart crumbled. All I could do was look to Jesus, the one I could keep praising in my pain.
Praise to the Lord, for he has heard my cry for mercy. The Lord is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in him and I am helped. My heart leaps for joy and I will give thanks to Him in song. (Psalm 28:6-7)
Amidst the crying and prayer, there have been a lot of other small moments along the way that have helped the healing process, too.
When I visited family friends in Dallas just three weeks after the break up, conversation inevitably included Dan, who, though breaking my heart, I still referred to in high esteem. Joey cut me off.
“Jessica, stop saying how awesome he is. YOU’RE awesome, and he’s an idiot for breaking up with you! I’ve always said that the three men who get to marry Compton women will be some of the luckiest men alive.”
Thanks for the reminder, Joey.
After almost no communication, Dan asked me to meet up in December before I left Houston. Following the breakup, my view of Dan had become twisted in all of my pain; I had forgotten how much he really did like me. It was good to remember that he is still caring and kind. It just wasn’t right, and that’s okay.
You’d think moving to another hemisphere would do the trick. It definitely helped, but New Zealand screams Dan. Every adventure I go on reminds me of someone who would love these mountains too.
I’ve talked to a lot of faithful, patient friends. I’ve journaled and journaled more. I made a Coffee Meets Bagel dating app account just for kicks. Then I deleted it. I’ve made out with a handful of guys who are nearly strangers. I don’t regret it, but when I went out in Queenstown a few weeks ago, I did regain my dignity and choose not to continue doing that. Ha.
Even amidst the excitement of this new season of life, Dan’s phantom has hovered, namely through social media. I wanted to be able to be okay seeing his life. But it has been like a return to the beginning of his travels two years ago, when picture-posting was our only connection. He keeps going on unbelievable trips; I’m still impressed. Only we’re on the other side of that now; we have already dated. When he liked my picture, I read too much into it. When he didn’t like my picture, I read too much into it. Why do I even take note of when he does or does not like a silly picture?! It is ridiculous. I still wish we could be friends. I still want to know how his life is and not have my heart all tied up in it. Obviously I’m not there yet, so though it felt oh-so middle school, I finally blocked him and asked him to do the same for me.
While we’re on the topic of social media, there is real irony in me writing this blog. Last year, Dan, with his cheeky sense of humor, posted a picture of a bunch of fish during a weekend trip to Florida. The caption read something along the lines of, “Been through a breakup recently? Don’t worry, there are plenty of fish in the sea. Read about it on my blog. #gottem #christiangirlinstagram.” Funnily enough, here is his very own Christian ex-girlfriend shamelessly writing an eerily similar post.
I’m not so sure how many eligible fish there actually are, and I’m still not ready to jump back into that pond. But if you have been through a breakup, or you’re battling some kind of suffering, this post is just as much for you as it is therapeutic for me to write. People sympathize with you in the immediate aftermath of a hardship, but a lot of the time, they stop checking in while you keep hurting. Our culture prescribes a certain period of time to suffer, and then it expects you to move on with the rest of our fast-paced society. Sometimes it’s hard to be honest about the fact that you’re not better yet. I hope you find some solace in my honesty, and encouragement in little bits of progress. It’s slow going, but healing does happen.
Eventually, a day will pass where he doesn’t cross my mind at all. Time is running its course; slowly, steadily, I am moving on.