Zeroed Out - Heartbreak
Heartbreak sucks. There's no other way around it. I've experienced it in mild doses over the years, but the last one knocked me back a bit. It's taken some time to put the puzzle together - but what are we without a bit of time and introspection? Surprising for those who knew me, I dated a woman I genuinely saw a future with. A brief but intense few months later, and it flashed in the pan.
My usual defence mechanism is to run from pain by utilising the old adage; "the easiest way to get over someone is to get under someone else." There's certainly some truth to that, and Tinder will always beckon me home like a siren luring ships into the tumultuous rocky waters. But copious amounts of bangs don't really help you "get over" someone. It denies you the ability to grow, be a better human, and become an awesome future partner.
Instead of running from the pain, I suggest taking the opportunity to sit in the trenches and learn. It's not about serving blame. She did this, I did that, etc. None of that is useful now. Relationships are really just two people bumbling in the dark, trying to find out if there's a future together. What the other person did is irrelevant. All we can focus on is our own failings and mistakes, accept them, learn from them, and improve.
The most important question I try to ask myself is, "what can I be grateful for?" In the end, we choose our relationships, and we do so with good intentions. I'm grateful for ...
All the happy times, the giggles, the affection, the experiences, and adventures.
Feeling loved, wanted, and appreciated, albeit for a time.
The opportunity to learn and grow from mistakes (and damn there were a lot).
And with all that loving gratitude in mind and heart, here are some random musings on heartbreak.
Right person, right time. People come into each other's lives for a reason, and people leave each other's lives for a reason. There are lessons to be learned in every interaction, platonic or romantic. All you can focus on is what you can control - your behaviour. What will you do differently next time?
People often change. Who we are when we meet may not be who we really are. Lockdown exacerbated that. If a couple isn't compatible, it's better to find that out earlier. People can also change for the better. That's where the focus should be - how can one be better?
Closure comes from within. There are no more answers. So stop asking questions. Unless you're both actively trying to heal together, it's time to accept the uncertainty and move on.
Stop blaming. It's like drinking poison and hoping the other person dies. Victims never succeed. It's better to let go with love and kindness than to sit and blame this or that for the outcome.
Both people get to choose their level of involvement in any future relationship. Be that rekindling the flame, being friends, or total silence. And all that's OK.
So what advice does Future Tony have for Present Tony?
Approach all emotions with curiosity instead of judgement. Instead of letting emotions dictate your reactions, sit in them, process them, ask questions, and seek to understand. Then with more intel, respond. Good decisions are rarely made in the heat of the moment.
Discretion is the better part of valour. Honesty is mandatory; full disclosure is not. Past Tony had a lot to learn here; Present Tony has addressed this. Aim to be an evolving human.
Accept people for who they are, warts and all. You cannot change others. That doesn't mean you have to hang around someone who wants and needs fundamentally different things to you, though. Read The Relationship Ladder for more context.
Be honest with boundaries. If something doesn't sit right, don't accept it. Trying to skirt boundaries will always lead to resentment. Go with your gut feeling.
Trade expectations for appreciations. Having expectations is OK, but sometimes they just get in the way. Figure out which one it is. Expect less; appreciate more. Life will be easier.
Leave a relationship with the same grace and love you entered it with. If/when you reach a point where you're unwilling to stay, be kind, loving, and compassionate. If you can maintain a friendship, great. If not, wish each other health, love, and happiness, and be on your way.
Growth comes from being realistic with yourself, turning that mirror inwards, and observing your own behaviours. Healing from heartbreak is painful, but there's a lot of gold to be dug if you're willing to put in the work. So put in the work!