Last week, I messaged a particularly important person in my life and held my breath to see what the response would be.
It was an emoji.
An emoji?? No words of love or affirmation. No reassurance. I had poured out my heart and thoughts and given them, again, the opportunity to fight for our relationship.
I got a thumbs-up emoji.
And in that moment, I was done.
As women, we grow up watching Disney movies that end with the Prince whisking the Princess off into the sunset and we are told they lived “happily ever after”. But, in reality, that doesn’t exist. What does exist is bills, stress, kids, chaos, demanding bosses, and pure and utter exhaustion. Oh, and pandemics. Pandemics definitely exist.
As do people with their own set of opinions, challenges, and trauma. And sometimes no matter how hard you try, or how much you fight, it just doesn’t work out. I’ve had experience breaking up with boyfriends. I didn’t grow up thinking that breakups also include friends, family members, and other sources of stress or frustration.
Sometimes you’ve outgrown a job you love and have to breakup and move on. Or the church you’ve always gone to go through a series of changes and you realize that the best option for you and your family is to find another that better suits your beliefs. Maybe a rift has been created between yourself and a dear friend, and no matter what you do you come to the conclusion that it’s best to go your separate ways. And sometimes, maybe you are forced to break up with a family member because a relationship has become toxic and no resolution can be found.
All breakups hurt. They can cause us heartache and are generally led by confusion. I have had my fair share as I’ve grown, and the hardest is one where you never get any sort of closure. I have dealt with the breakup of friends, especially one in particular who suddenly stopped coming around. Without explanation, I learned the hard way that I had to step back from what I wanted and let her go because that was apparently what was best for her at that time. The hardest though is when you love someone tremendously, but you have tried to express exactly how you feel and be transparent and in the end, it just isn’t working. When you realize that this relationship, no matter how badly you want it, cannot exist without stress and pain, a breakup may be necessary. When any relationship is hurting more than bringing you any sort of happiness, and it is no longer serving you in any capacity, a breakup can lead to clarity and time to heal and gather yourself. We all have experienced the deep hurt a breakup can cause, but we have likely also been able to look back in hindsight through the hurt and understand that it was better. That you are better for it, and the breakup made you stronger than you had been before.
Recently an emoji led to a breakup for me.
After years of hurt, and 15 months of talking, arguing, crying, and heartache, I realized that I had to break up with someone I love dearly. I can’t do it anymore. I cannot continue to beg for love or acceptance. Love, in fact, doesn’t guarantee happily ever after, even from those people who you never thought would fail you. I share this especially to say that I have learned that even when that person is a family member whom you love unconditionally, sometimes a breakup is necessary. I have had others tell me that I should just accept the terms of what this particular relationship has developed into, in a show of respect and also for fear that one day I would regret it. But, I can no longer do that. Emotionally, mentally, physically: all around I am no longer served, and the merry-go-round of hope and letdown is excruciating. In the end, the separation was necessary.
A breakup doesn’t have to last forever. And just like in a romantic relationship, it doesn’t mean that love is not present. It can be a pause, a step away, and an offer of time to heal and to figure out the next right thing. In the end, I hope that I can look back on this breakup and see how it not only made me stronger but also led to a reconciliation that made this particular relationship heal and allow for change and growth. In the end, it is a move I had to take. I hope that one day, I can look back and be thankful for this breakup, like all the others before it.