The quote above is from author David Foster Wallace’s book Infinite Jest.He was a brilliant author who sadly took his own life at the young age of 46. Although this quote and the novel Infinite Jest center on addiction and family relationships (honestly it’s a tough novel to describe in generalist terms), the quote itself resonates with me regarding my romantic relationships.
The first time I read this quote I immediately thought of how I approach the relationships in my life, all in with a hard time letting go. I don’t let go easily. I have been told that maybe I am unable to be alone and try hard too hard to hold on to avoid being alone. I don’t believe that is true at all. I have also received the you need to love yourself first advice. Sometimes I admit, I am pissed off at myself, but overall, I love the person that I am. When I go to a dark place and pretty much loathe myself I seek help and get out of it and back to who I really am. It has nothing to do with self-esteem either. I am a pretty confident person, most of the time. I know that we all have something we would like to change about ourselves, and if you don’t, than I am going to venture to say that you are not really looking at yourself truthfully. There is always something to improve upon.
Should you just let it go when it is over? That is advice I receive a lot when I am going through a breakup. As if it is that easy. I always wonder how people can do that, just walk away and well, just let it go. As for me, in the early stages of a breakup I hurt, I cry, and I’ll admit it, sometimes I give the person reasons why they should stay with me. I know it sounds cringe worthy to hear that, but I don’t see it that way. But many do.
Which leads me to the reason I wrote this post. We need to stop judging others on how they handle a breakup. Is it a bad thing to fight for love, even when you know you may be the only one fighting for it? Is it a bad thing to just walk away from that person and not look back? We can be very judgemental when it comes to witnessing the end of relationship that is not our own. We are looking at their breakup through our own lense, our own feelings, not the person who is actually involved. I’ll admit that when I see someone who can just walk away from a relationship and close the door immediately, it baffles me. Conversely, I have also been questioned on how I can keep holding on and trying when I should just let it go. I don’t think how you react when your partner leaves you is a reflection on you as a person. It is also not a question of how strong you are, or are not. Some of us can share our hurt and aren’t afraid to show the world we are hurting while some of us have defense mechanisms which may involve separating completely from the person in our life and not wanting to talk about it, with anyone. But who are we to dictate what someone should be feeling and thinking or how they should be acting post breakup? We are all different and unique, that is what makes us human. We may relate and understand what someone is going through, but we are not feeling what that person is actually feeling. That is unique to them and we need to remember that.
Of course I am not referring to relationships that involve abuse of any kind. That requires some tough love and protecting our loved one from being hurt. Also if the person is self-harming after a breakup then there needs to be tough love as well to make sure nothing bad happens.
I have a friend who is struggling through a breakup right now. I simply told her that I understand she is hurting and she needs to do what is best for her and only her. Of course there are other things I wanted to say but I stopped myself. Why did I stop myself? Because the additional advice I wanted to give is coming from my perspective and it is just unwarranted advice, something we are all guilty of at times. I know that telling her that she needs to just move on wouldn’t make her feel any better and actually may make her feel worse and question why she just can’t get over it. She is a strong, beautiful woman and I know she will get through this.
So next time a friend, relative or colleague is hurting from a breakup give them a hug and reassure them that they will be okay. Let them know that you understand it sucks and that in time, they will feel better. But most of all understand that they are not you and as much as you want to just say to them just let it go and move on, don’t, because they will move on, on their own terms and timetable. Their feelings are valid to them and all of us grieve differently. Advice is good and can be helpful too, but most times they may just need someone to listen and support, and most of all, give them a judgement free zone where they can choose to share their hurt, or not talk about it at all.