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- Relationship Problems & Advice
Pulling Yourself Through a Breakup
To me, life is like a 10,000 piece puzzle where all of the pieces are different shades of white. Just when you think you have a piece that fits with another, you lean in closer only to discover that there's a tiny gap between the seemingly perfect joints, and you have to start all over. Perhaps that is a slightly depressing way to look at it, but you have to admit that the image fits the frame sometimes.
If any one thing fits that description most often, I would say that it would have to be relationships. That is because relationships have a tendency to be a fairly simple concept, and have a pretty standard form and function, but for some reason, they are so difficult to put together. Though some people get lucky and put the right piece in the right place, and although some people are just plain better at puzzle making, for most of us It takes many tries, and rotations of the pieces before you can find where things fit in. There are many things that get in the way of filling in the relationship puzzle: like the maturity level of those involved, their ability to work as a team, how committed they both are, their past experiences either building them up or making things difficult for them.
There are so many different scenarios and combinations of couples and elements of compatibility that I'm sure I could make a list so long that it would bore most readers out of their minds to read, so i will only briefly say that, with how many elements that have to line up for a good relationship to grow, it is remarkable that people can ever even get one started. Believe it or not, that fact does not have to be discouraging. For how many people that are, at this moment, struggling with a dying relationship, this can actually be a comfort.
Let me explain. My brother told me once that he realized that there was no reason to be offended or to feel like any kind of failure when someone broke up with him (or for when he couldn't make a relationship work for that matter!). His logic was that there were so many little reasons that two people can be wrong for each other that there was really no reason freak out about a breakup and start questioning who you are as a result. It could be something as simple as the fact that you are not an openly affectionate type of person, and your girlfriend/boyfriend likes a partner who is free to kiss him/her whenever the impulse is there. Or, for another example, he/she has always had a fantasy of being with someone who can sing and dance, and you can rarely complete a song on Beatles Rock Band on the "easy" setting, and can only attempt to dance the Chicken Dance (with mild success), if the rare opportunity presents itself.
Breakups are rarely easy, and I don't mean to say that they do not hurt like hell. I only mean to bring up some points that might make it easier to understand, easier to heal while you are going through one.
In fact, if relationships are puzzles, here's what i think about breakups:
A train wreck is what a breakup feels like when it comes unexpectedly. You have been following a track for so long, and your happy destination looks closer than it ever did before. The train runs through the night and into the morning, and then back into the night again. And then just as the sun begins to rise, and you yawn, stuff your pillow a little more firmly beneath your head, and think about waking up, you hear a frantic whistle blast and it's too late. The train cars jolt, sending you flying headlong into the person sitting opposite. There is noise, the screeching of the breaks, and when you open your eyes, the passenger car is on its side and you are lying sprawled out in the open gap of one of the broken windows. No one could tell you that this was not a life changing event. As you walk away from the wreckage, in shock, and wobbly on your feet, you are left with a tangle of emotions and a series of internal questions. Why did I get on that particular train? you wonder. Could I have waited and chosen a better one? How am I going to get to my destination now? If you are lucky, you do not regret your choice of transportation--but you are only disappointed that the ride ended before you made it to where you wanted to end up.
But, that's wrong, isn't it? There is no destination really. There is only another train station where you can choose if you want to change the direction of your travel, or continue with the old one. I'll be the first to say that I HATE constant traveling. I'm someone who likes to sink her feet in the dirt sometimes. But traveling is at least never stagnant, and at its best, should be enjoyed for the things experienced, and the sights seen.
There is always the temptation after a breakup to wonder what "could" have happened if things had been different--or if you could have done things "right." But I find that even though I sometimes learn a thing or two from these backwards thoughts, they really shouldn't last longer than a few days or they become a little like poison to the healing process. If you dwell too long on what could have happened with your ex, it changes fairly quickly to thoughts about what could BE with your ex and easily leads into a fruitless effort to "get him back." The only reason to try getting back together with an ex is if the reason for the breakup was a true misunderstanding that you failed to explain when the breakup was taking place.
The song "I and Love and You," by the Avett Brothers I think describes the point of what I am trying to explain:
"One foot in and one foot back, but it don't pay to live like that, so I cut the ties and I jumped the track, for never to return."
Many people, myself included, can indeed complete a 10,000 piece puzzle where all the pieces are white. Time, experience, trial and error, and then just plain good luck will help us get there. We only need to keep looking for right pieces, and put them in the right places.
And don't despair if you are not the puzzle type. Because, after all, if there are two people working on the same puzzle, won't it get done a lot faster?