Grief Isn't Linear: On Moving On
One of the reasons I initially began blogging was my desire to provide an honest and authentic corner of the Internet. I've always valued honesty - and this blog in particular has been helpful in keeping me honest with myself.
However, despite all of my desire for honesty, I have truly struggled to sit down and write this post. I've even struggled to journal about these feelings - even when it's just on my terms and for my own privacy.
So, a bit stream of consciousness, here goes finally...in the hopes that this could resonate with at least ONE person.
I hate timelines that society constructs all around us - and that I so often subconsciously fall prey to. Specifically, I hate timelines around relationships.
For years, I have held the belief (most likely because an older friend once told me) that you get over a relationship in half of the time you were together...if you handle the breakup maturely. So, if you were together for 3 years, you'd mourn for 1.5 years, if you were together only 2 months, you would mourn for 1 month. And consciously or not, I held myself to this standard...and honestly, my feelings followed. I would go through the stages of grief (some longer than others) and then eventually, months or years would finally feel okay over time. It always happened gradually and there was never an “aha” moment where I realized I had “moved on.”
So, four months ago, when I was unexpectedly dumped after a year long relationship, I mentally prepared for a six month grieving period. But, I quickly realized my period of grief and mourning towards the relationship was a bit different this time around.
During the first few days, I seemingly went through a period of shock. I cried, but I also laughed and looked to the silver linings immediately. A few days later though, it really hit that this was my reality and I hit a point of catatonic depression. All I can say is: I wasn’t in a good place.
Two months into post-breakup life, things started to shift, though. I blogged about how everything still hurt, but how it hurt differently. My world started to slowly come back to right side up, I started to get a feel for my new normal, and I started to make it hours (sometimes even days!) without having a sobbing breakdown. But, moments of overwhelming grief still hit hard - and more acutely. It was confusing. I was doing all of the right things (cutting off contact, not drinking hard, keeping busy, not rebounding) and for the most part, I was feeling noticeably better...so why was I still having moments where I felt like my world was collapsing, moments where it felt like I couldn’t breathe, moments where I just wished that I could go back in time when things were better off?
Two and a half months into post-breakup life, I met someone really unexpectedly, and admittedly started to develop feelings. The night we first talked, I was so excited that I texted all of my friends - and then immediately called my ex. And for weeks, I punished myself over how I wasn’t grieving right and how I had timelines for moving on (and still being sad, too) all wrong. I couldn’t quite grasp and reconcile both grieving and “moving on” with someone new at the same time. Is that even supposed to happen? Beyond that, is that too soon?
The next month and a half followed similarly. I grieved and developed feelings at the same time. I experienced moments of agony and sadness and anger - while also feeling happy and light and giddy (and not in a rebound kind of way). Mostly, I kept asking myself: is it too soon to “move on?” and is it fair to start dating someone new when I’m still processing a former relationship? and will anyone judge me for moving too fast or too slow?
While I wish I had all of the answers, I still don’t. However, I can say with full confidence - four months post-breakup - grief isn’t linear. That whole timeline I set up in my head...well, it’s not always applicable and it’s not fair to punish myself when I don’t follow it. For better or worse. Sometimes, grief comes in waves...versus a flat out, straightforward timeline. I’m happily dating someone - but I’ll be honest and say I have major moments of missing my past relationship and the ease of having dated someone for so long. But, those moments are becoming fewer and far between - and I’m learning to accept that even if I handle everything “right” they still can happen...yes, even amidst some new happiness. Grief and moving on isn’t linear. It’s your own experience - highs and lows and everything in between. No “set” timelines and no set way to feel. And cheers to that realization!