Six months ago, I went through the worst breakup in my history of breakups. I couldn’t eat; I couldn’t sleep; I couldn’t speak (a strange manifestation); I felt nauseated 24/7; I couldn’t stop crying…I had a lingering heavy pain in my chest that would not go away, and my mind was fuzzy and all jumbled-up making it difficult to preform even the most basic of tasks.
During the first couple of months after the breakup, I felt as if “my world” had, literally, fallen apart. I had lost, not only a partner, but his two teenage daughters as well. This was significant because I don’t have children of my own and I had developed strong maternal feelings for his girls. And, when I say “partner”, I mean that I genuinely thought of this man as my/a true partner—not as just a label, like many people use to identify their significant other (I later discovered that I had taken the meaning of “partner” infinitely more serious than he did…ouch!).
The loss of these relationships (the man and his daughters as a whole) was also extremely difficult compared to previous losses because, for the first time, I had permitted myself to become absolutely willing to acquiesce to the concept—and act of what is considered to be required for a relationship—of “opening yourself up” to another person and allowing them to be the one person you depend on in life. Against my better judgement (and counter to what I had previously allowed myself to do in relationships) I actively let myself become vulnerable and emotionally attached to this man. Although I had no expectations or preconceived plans for our relationship, I had fully dedicated myself to building a relationship that would have meaning and longevity. This was a mistake—I set myself up for emotional devastation and tremendous heartbreak.
After “he” left, I found myself surging through erratic waves of emotion—from the pure anguish of profound loss; to full-blown hatred; then, to an indescribable feeling of yearning for and missing him. I felt absolute love, absolute hate, absolute betrayal—absolute feelings of contradicting nature. And, to add to the confusion, I was never given the consideration and respect of having an explanation for why he suddenly had no feelings for me. The way the breakup occurred was very convoluted, shady, and extremely sudden. It was as if a switch was flipped and he just had no feelings what-so-ever for me. His personality changed, his character changed, his approach changed…he was suddenly a complete stranger. He was cold to the core, distant beyond recognition, and poignantly hurtful.
This morning, I read an article in Psychology Today about why we can hate someone we love. Not all of the discussion applies to the loss of an intimate relationship, but you can glean some relevant information from it. This is the most applicable excerpt from it:
When love turns to hate, this has a lot to do with the nature of the relationships we build with people we love. In a meaningful relationship we need to let our guards down. This means, among other things, that we allow the other person to see, and hear about, our weaknesses. This makes us vulnerable. Our vulnerability becomes even more pronounced when we trust the other person. Trusting another makes us dependent on him or her because it shapes our expectations for the future. Because we arrange our lives around these expectations, trusting another person is risky business. When we allow ourselves to be vulnerable in a relationship, we put ourselves at a significant risk of being betrayed, intimidated and humiliated. As psychologist Jerrold Lee Shapiro points out, the greater our vulnerability, the more likely we are to hate the person we fear could hurt us or people we care about (“We Hate What We Fear,” p. 156). Psychologists Katherine Aumer and Anne Cathrine Krebs Bahn note that while hate is a recognition of the other’s capability of hurting us, reacting with hate can be self-protective by making us less vulnerable to potential harm (“Hate in Intimate Relationships,” p. 137). I May Hate You More, But I’ll Never Love You less; The irrationality of love-hate relationships
Addendum: I have found that, after the initial torturous heartbreak period—when you are able (how ever long that may be for you)—it helps tremendously to find someone or several people to focus your attention on. I’m talking about finding someone to crush on. Not only does this distract you from the lingering and random pangs of heartache, it gives you the motivation to get yourself back into caring about your appearance—this is great for your self-esteem, which has inevitably been devastated. Look-up an old fling; finally talk to that cute coworker; go through your contacts and reach out to someone/people who might still be interested in you; network with friends to find kindred spirits who are single—JUST DON’T RESORT TO ONLINE DATING!!! (I am conducting ongoing research into this subject and you can read other post about this. I post my daily personal experiences and they are horrifying!)