I admit I’m a fairly stubborn person. I hate being wrong and I hate losing. When my ex broke up with me, I realized I had 3 choices: I could succumb to depression, lying in bed crying all day while not eating for a couple of weeks, I could grow resentful and angry and think of manipulative ways to screw with his life, or, I could better myself until I was too good for him.
I had already gone the depression route the first time he broke up with me (because I let him do this to me twice). I stayed in bed watching reruns of The Simpsons and Friends, refused to eat anything but ice cream, and cried every single night for months. I dropped 10 pounds in 2 weeks. I started forcing myself to eat again after I hit 100 pounds. It was the only time in my life I ever felt I would really not make it through. I decided I couldn’t do that again this time around. I have a real job now. This isn’t college anymore where I can skip classes when I don’t feel up to it. I’m a semi-adult and that requires an ability to maintain some sort of stability.
Conspiring to secretly screw with his life was tempting for a while. Unfortunately I’m not vindictive enough to come up a worthwhile plan. And, being a longterm planner, I couldn’t see a positive ending to that scenario. I didn’t want to do anything which would result in my ex seeing me in an unflattering light. Acting out in a stupid and rash manner would only lead to him feeling justified in breaking up with me. I would be the crazy ex who couldn’t handle her shit. I would be the story he’d tell all future girlfriends and they would sympathize with him while judging me. I’m too proud for that.
That left me with the final option: bettering myself. Being a competitive person, I was determined this time to come out better than him in some way. I wanted to be happier, more successful, more fulfilled. I needed to prove to myself that he wasn’t the sole source of happiness in my life. Being a nurturer, I had naturally put my ex first. I caved to him, sacrificing my needs in order to fulfill his. But I couldn’t fulfill his needs. And he certainly wasn’t even trying to fulfill mine. I gave up time with my friends until I barely had contact with them. I gave up hobbies I once enjoyed. I gave up weekends to run errands with him or help him out in some way. When he was sick or having a rough day, I dropped my plans to go take care of him. All the while, I knew on some level that he would not have done the same for me. He was a selfish boy disguised as a nice guy.
I couldn’t stand the idea of sitting around wallowing over him. I knew I needed to get back on my feet as soon as possible. The first few days after the break up I took walks. My roommate and I walked around the neighborhood, to the local park, up the street to pick up dinner, etc. We talked about ways to better fill my free time and brainstormed how I could find hobbies that were more meaningful. The first week after the break up, I started hitting the gym – a lot. I needed to keep busy somehow and it made me feel a little more energized. The second week after the break up, I found a therapist. I had never been much of a believer in therapy before. I had tried going before but wasn’t able to find a good fit. In an effort to do anything I could to move on, I started attending therapy once a week. Three weeks after the break up, I submitted a volunteer application at an LA animal shelter. Tomorrow I have my first training session.
I actually feel okay right now. Maybe I’m moving forward out of sheer stubbornness.