Breakup Truth Number 11
You have to break a few eggs to make an omelette.
I’ve always adored this saying, mostly because I really love food metaphors. But also, because it’s true and an important thing to remember while going through a breakup—in order to get to the Land of Over It, in order to create something far more appealing than just a bunch of whole eggs sitting in a bowl, you’re going to have to first break those eggs. You have to do things in your breakup process that seem disruptive, and may not look so pretty at first glance.
No matter how hard to you work to stick to your own personal set of breakup rules, you’re bound to experience what feels like a setback. Like a day when your sadness is so big, the only thing that you want is for him to enter the room to create at the very least, a him-sized gap between you and the pain.
I had one of those evenings on Saturday.
The whole day had been tinged with feeling sad, and missing him. I canceled my plans for the evening and was so in that place—you know, the one where you are battling against both the loneliness and the sadness that is filling you up, up, up and you’ll do most anything to make it stop? Like text him to tell him that you miss him and you hate how things ended, and you want him to know that you are far less angry? And really all you want is his comfort and for him to tell you it’s going to be OK? Because for the past nine months he was the person closest to you and he held you when you got the call that your grandmother died, and would stroke your forehead while you curled up on the bed crying after you and your ex-husband argued about the particulars of your divorce and it all felt like too much for one person to handle? Saturday was like that.
And so, because I know my friends will pull me back from the breakup ledge, I texted my friend Bethany instead of him:
“I can’t text the ex and tell him I miss him, right?”
“No no no!”
“I’m feeling so sad about it today!”
“Anything in particular?”
“Well, crying, which you’d be surprised to know hasn’t happened in over a week.”
“It’s the moon. It’s crazy.”
“I think I just feel lonely. But I don’t want to go out and be around people tonight. I just miss him. And I need to make myself remember how hard the relationship was. The moon probably isn’t helping, you’re right.”
“Maybe you should just sit and be sad and not run away from/act on feelings.”
Um. I’ll wait while you read that last line again, OK? OK. Can we talk about the fact that my friend Bethany may or may not be a little tiny ballerina Buddha? Because she’s a for-real ballerina, and what she said was brilliant. You’re following, right?
Just sitting and being sad, and not feeling like I had to make it go away had honest-to-goodness never occurred to me. How frequently have I tried to abolish my sadness, run away from it, hide from it, and react to it? Because, the thing is—and I know this—the sadness has to be processed. I have experienced enough life upside-down turning breakups to know this—it’s there, and shoving it behind other relationships or cocktails with girlfriends or trying to keep insanely busy just doesn’t work.
Because, you are grieving the loss of a person to whom you were exceptionally close; someone whom you loved, lived with, and dreamed with—that whole grieving process part? It has to actually happen. There has to be space for the release of the sadness in all of the bootstrap pulling-up and moving on and letting go that you’re doing. Part of letting go is acknowledging that you have lost someone that you love. That you have lost the imaginary future you had both agreed you wanted. And that is sad. It’s effing sad, and that has to be OK sometimes. You have to give yourself permission to allow that sadness to move through—and then out of—you. I am so quick to label being sad as a bad thing. And in unbalanced amounts, yes, that’s something to watch out for. But one evening and the handful more that are sure to come? That’s healthy. That’s going to happen. And it’s OK.
And so, I put down my phone, and took Bethany’s advice. OK, so I’m sad, I thought to myself. I took a deep breath and had to actively stop trying not to cry, and allow the tears to come. I sat on my very pretty princess bed, and I cried. I witnessed my sadness, and my missing of him. All things I would usually try to keep myself from doing, because they seemed the opposite of what I thought I should be doing. I broke a whole lot of eggs, as it were.
Well, I fell asleep. But when I awoke the next morning, two things happened:
1. I noticed that I felt far calmer and more at peace than I had the night before—and also incredibly, incredibly relieved that I hadn’t reached out to him.
2. I broke in my new French copper skillet for my first weekend breakfast in my new apartment. I made an omelette with smoked salmon, fresh cream cheese, chives and spinach.
It was one of the best things I’ve ever tasted. And every day that I move forward in the breakup, and work toward the balance of gluing some things together, while breaking others in order to create something new, I feel stronger. And also, I’m not going to lie—knowing that there’s a smoked salmon omelette waiting for me as a reward helps a lot, too.
P.S. Jacques Pépin totally agrees with Breakup Truth Number 11.