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How to break up like a hero

A lesson on receiving gifts in difficult spaces.

Photo taken by Austeja Zvaginyte

Do you look for closure or clarity?  Before you answer that, let’s dive into what clarity truly means.

When I was 13, I came up with a definition of clarity: “It’s like a romantic Hollywood movie, where the end of the plot is more anticipated than the beginning.” I’d like to tell a romantic story that is a bit different and has shown me what love actually is.

He picked me up after work and I leapt into his arms. “I have so much to tell you” – I greeted him. He did not mirror my enthusiasm.

“I have something to tell you, as well. Get into the car. Please”.

I did as I was told and held space for silence and some big piece of news that was – I knew – going to crush me. Although I wanted him to speak, I resisted what was coming at the same time.

“I think we should take a break” – the words finally escaped his mouth and shot me straight in the head.

“What?! A break?! Why don’t you just find the guts to call it a day and tell me we are done?!” I shouted out loud. I was drowning in a whirlpool of emotions – relief and sorrow: this love boat was sinking. Just like that, so casually, in a car, without even a single look in the eyes, my romantic life as I’d known, was over.

I think there were some phrases exchanged. Yet, all I recall now is my deep breathing and both of us being super focused on the road and traffic ahead. When he finally dropped me at a car service to pick up my car, I had only one goal: to crawl into my car and make sure he could no longer breathe the same air as I did. I wanted to run away. “See you at home, ok? Let’s talk” – I heard him say, with a cracked voice. I entered the car and blasted the radio.

Yep, it played all of those love songs. All of the breakup songs. What else could I expect, right?!

I kept on driving in circles, postponing my return home. Home? A man with whom I shared two precious years of my life, held my hand and walked me through my darkest times, and whom I loved so much and created a dream home with, was now only a mirage from the past.

I was cold, yet rational. I was grateful for having my car and being able to take my time. I must admit I also felt in control of this breakup: I knew he was waiting for me at “home” and I had to put myself into the proper emotional state to handle this right. I’d been there before. The previous breakup sucked the soul out of me and that emotional state dragged on for over a year. Everything that could’ve gone wrong, went wrong. So I did not want to repeat it.

I turned off the engine and rang my mom’s number to present the news that their “dream son – in law” was not actually going to become one. The most sensitive and hard part was done. I was so proud of myself – I knew that if I call my family while upset, they would have weeks of sleepless nights of worry, so I used that moment to “play it cool”.

After the long conversation of “I will be ok, no no, really”, I was ready to go back home.

He sat on a sofa, with his big “guilty puppy” eyes resting on me.

– “Could you sit down, please?” I heard while standing in my defensive warrior’s pose.
– “Look, I could sit down and this conversation will be very short but emotional. Or we could go for a walk and it will be one of those deep and long conversations you hate, but at least it will be a calm one. Your call.”

The beloved neighbourhood

 

We strolled around our beloved neighbourhood for hours. I cried and asked all the possible questions: So what have I done wrong? What should I improve in my next relationship? Why is this love over? Is there anything that could glue us back together? We were great, weren’t we?

We were great. Yet, I was reminded of what continued to escape my mind: we were not happy. We might have called it happiness at that moment while closing our eyes to the shortcomings of small fights and imperfect character traits. But, there was no bright future for us together. One of us painted a life vision with a dream of becoming a serial entrepreneur and settling down, another – challenging education globally, living in the most exotic locations, and leaving security for the unknown adventure. Which one should have compromised his/her big dream for another’s? This wasn’t right and definitely not how happiness felt.

Spot the time to move on

 

It was the truth. The reality. It was a relief and a sorrow – I was walking around the block with a special someone, holding me around the waist, making me laugh. For the last time.

Reassured that I did not suck that much as a girlfriend, I found peace. It was the right thing to do. Immense gratitude started flowing through me – I was so thankful it was his move. Knowing his firm demeanour, there was no way back. Cold turkey. On the contrary, if it was my call, after some time I would have begged to get back together.

After a few hours of watching the trains pass our beloved railway around the corner from our house, we came back, took a can of beer each and left to watch the sunset together. We cheered for all the beautiful moments together, opened up a bit more, “So your mother never really liked me, did she?” I remember asking.

It was late when he led me back to what was called my house from now on. He packed a few things, kissed me goodbye and left.

With those doors closing before me, the new chapter of my life opened.

The reason I am telling this story was that that was the best gift of love I could have been given.

Today, I am celebrating this man who is still a dear friend, at least in my head. Thanks to him, I understood what “when you really love, you have to let go” actually means. I find myself asking: Where would I be right now if that break up never happened? Would I have found the courage to go after my dreams to be the version of myself I envision?

I can only guess now, but this break up would have happened anyway, just later in the future, leaving a big trace of crap, a bad smell and a poisonous state of being. I am glad that all of this never happened and I can still smile at all of those pictures representing the time we spent together.

Today I celebrate the love that I get to receive, I celebrate pure love for myself and that I still get to have an ex-boyfriend whom I call my friend. Cheers to, as Beyonce sings, ” the best thing I never had”.

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