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Today, my girlfriend and I broke up.
It started with the famous words, ?J, can we have a serious conversation when I get home from work??
As is the normal operating procedure of my sleep cycle, I awoke from a nightmare. A side effect to the medication that I take at night to, ironically enough, help me sleep. Groggily, I reached for the soul-sucking device that is my phone. After being blinded by a flash of searing white, and a few mumbled curses, I let my eyes adjust to the familiar neon glow.
The first thing I noticed was the time. 3:35am. Right on schedule. The second thing I noticed was the fateful message from my girlfriend. Within mere second, I went from being dead asleep to wide awake. I could feel my heart begin to sink, and my pulse rapidly increase. The familiar, heavy sense of dread that we all know too well descended on my mind. I began reeling off all the possible things that could be wrong.
What had I done? What had I failed to do? Is there someone else? Is she unhappy?
As a person who suffers from anxiety, my mind began to tally off a million-and-one paranoid thoughts, ranging from the sensible, to the down-right ludicrous.
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Trying to keep my cool, as best as one can do when replying to a text, my response was simple, ?Yeah, of course, is everything okay?? As I punched away at the small keyboard of my phone, my hands began to shake. Another side effect of the medication. The minutes leading up to her response were palpable. The darkness of my bedroom felt as if it was closing in around me, ready to consume and suffocate me.
?Yeah, it?s okay. I will talk to you properly when I?m back from work, and you?re properly away.?
I was awake, and I was ready to talk now.
The nature of M and mine?s relationship was rather unconventional. I live in Australia, whilst she lives in the UK. We met through a mutual friend, one that I had gone to University with, who had met her through a community on Reddit. After dragging me into the fray of this whacky little community, we were introduced. From behind our little chat boxes, we hit it off well, and began to slowly get to know one another.
Within a matter of days we were discussing our pasts, our present, and our futures. We shared our goals, and our aspirations, our fears and our doubts.
After a couple of weeks, we?d upgraded to FaceTime, Discord, Snapchat and Instagram. The seeds of our friendship had been sewn, and the roots began to grow into something more.
It wasn?t long until we had declared our feelings for one another. Attempting to take things slowly, our excitement got the better of us, and we decided to take the plunge and risk a relationship. We discussed the pros and cons to being in a long distance relationship, especially one that spans across the entire planet.
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How often would we see each other? When would we see each other? If things worked well enough, who would immigrate to whose country?
They were questions that we pondered deeply.
To add further contention to the issue, our personal situations were not leaning in our favour. I had dropped out of University due to a mental, and emotional breakdown, and was now working part-time in a caf whilst I underwent therapy. She was working two jobs to support herself through part-time study at University. The yin to my yang.
Despite the fact that fate had rolled snake eyes against us, we made the mutual decision to go ahead with the relationship. Being none the wiser, we were ecstatic, relishing in our love, and affection. It wasn?t long before we once more got carried away and began to discuss our future together. The possibility of marriage, of starting a family, moving to the UK for a couple of years so that M could finish her studies, then moving back to Australia to start our new life. It was a noble concoction to say the least. But it was reckless, and immature.
The grim reality of life is that we are all dealing with pain and trauma. Past and present. We each have our demons, and skeletons buried in the closet. It wasn?t long before these ghouls and fiends began crawling up from the depths.
My depression and anxiety had relapsed, coming back with with a vengeful fury, whilst M?s demons were still continuing to haunt her.
It was the beginning of the end, and that was okay.
Before long, the honeymoon phase ended. The long-winded messages declaring eternal love dwindled, the cute ?dates,? watching Netflix together via the internet, listening to music on Discord, became less and less. The stresses of trying to maintain an international relationship were beginning to form, and the cracks were spreading rapidly.
The state of my mental health was deteriorating, and I was trying to juggle my own personal responsibilities, as well as the responsibilities of being a loving, caring boyfriend.
To combat this, we came up with the plan of visiting one another. I would visit for her birthday in August, and she would visit in January for our anniversary. This created a new problem. Money. To travel across the world to visit each other, we?d both need a lot of money, and money was something that was hard for us both to come by. My shifts at the caf became fewer as the tourist season died down, and her own financial woes plagued her. This left us both in awkward positions. Do we continue to do what we both know is right for us personally? Or do we risk our limited financial gains to spend a couple of weeks together?
The answer was obvious.
?I don?t think I?m going to be able to wait until you finish work. Can I ask you a question??
?Are we about to have a breakup conversation??
?I really, really do not want to lie to you, J. But yes. I want you to know that it is nothing you?ve done. It is something that I have been facing for a while now, and I should have spoken up sooner.?
My reaction to the news wasn?t as drastic as I thought it might have been. I?d often tried to envision how I would feel, or react, to us breaking up, but nothing could prepare me for the fact that I felt okay with it.
She had prepared a long message for me, explaining the reasons on why she thought it would be best to end the relationship. It detailed all our financial concerns that we had shared, the distance between us and the strain that that is putting on us, especially the fact that we would barely be able to see one another. The most important factor taken into account was that we were looking at a timespan of roughly four to five years before we could even be together full time. It wouldn?t be fair on either of us.
I was calm, and I was collected. I told her that I had had my own private concerns, and that I knew in my heart that this would eventually happen, and that it was the right move for us to make. It is not feasible to try navigate and control a relationship like this.
We spent the next few hours discussing our reasonings, agreeing on most of the points we each raised. It was amicable, and mutual. It also taught us an important lesson:
To love someone, we sometimes have to make sacrifices that hurt.
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As the day progressed, I have experienced a flurry of emotions and feelings. Disbelief, anger, sadness, relief, understanding, love. A close friend of mine told me to bathe in these feelings, and to let the experience wash over me, for it will make me stronger in the long term. And that is what I have done. I realised early on that it could have gone one of two ways. I could have attacked M for her decision, disputing it and throwing a tantrum. But what would that have proven or solved? At the end of the day, we both had the same concerns and doubts, and we both made the decision as adults to part ways as a couple, and to continue on as friends.
We have agreed to a cool-down period of a couple of days, allowing ourselves time to process, and begin healing, before talking to one another again. Tonight, though, I received a message from her asking if I was okay. I told her what I had been experiencing, and she told me the same. She told me that she regrets her decision, but that she knows that it is best for both of us. And I agree with her wholeheartedly. It is for the best. We are no good to anyone when our own wheels have come off.
As I sit here finishing up this story of a reckless love, and a grownup truth, I hold no animosity towards my now ex-girlfriend. I now have the time to focus on my own healing, improving my mental health, and pulling myself from the dark hole that I am in. And M has the opportunity to focus fully on her studies, striving towards a career that I know she will excel at.
The pain of ending a relationship is all too real, but sometimes you have to know when it is time to pull the plug before love turns to resentment. It is important to communicate any concerns, fears or doubts to your partner. To build a stable, trusting relationship where you are both free to speak your minds without the fear of offending or upsetting.
This is the nature of growing up, and this is the nature of how to handle the disintegration of a relationship. With calm words, understanding, and an open mind.
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