I stopped watching Netflix and started watching TED Talks and it was the best decision I ever made. That sounds good, right? Noble even. The truth is I needed something to distract myself from my sorrow after my break-up. I’ve been keeping myself busy with exercise. They say it’s a good idea to take up a hobby after the end of a relationship, so why not obsess over an exercise routine? I mean I do have a lot of excess energy all of the sudden, and insomnia was a problem even when I had a honey. Ice cream and alcohol were making me suicidal, so I bought an exercise tracker thing, finished off the ice cream, left the booze at a friend’s house and stopped binge-watching Netflix. Okay, to be fair I didn’t stop watching MY Netflix because technically, I never had a Netflix account. I stopped using my not-sweetheart’s account because it seemed overly opportunistic to continue reaping the side benefits of our companionship when I was no longer receiving the real benefits of our love. In other words, I logged out.
I know time heals and this too shall pass and whatever, but shit is hard right now y’all. I didn’t realize just how much better my life had become until then it wasn’t anymore. I know that relationships are hard work, and I’m used to them being a challenge. If I could record the number of times I have heard “but it’s not supposed to be this hard” from my exes… well it would be a lot of times. That’s the thing though. This felt different. It was definitely challenging, like trying to teach my students how to read -that is super complex- but I WANT to help them. I am excited to be a part of solving the puzzle and continuing on the journey. That’s how I felt about us. Like I wanted to do the work. So the work didn’t feel like work. It just felt like us. And despite the added time and energy intimate relationships require, ours worked out so that my life was about 10% easier than it had ever been before. And y’all that ten percent was everything. I mean everything.
First of all I never thought that would actually happen: that my life would ever be easier. I had mostly resigned to the fact that it would just hover around bearable with occasional to frequent dips into “oh god I’m not going to make it.” But then there it was happening. It was 10% easier to breath, to fall asleep, to laugh, to hope for a future in which I could be more than a tired, short tempered, scraping by single mother living in a tiny basement apartment. It was wonderful. All the while I was careful not to self-sabotage by doing something stupid. I piled up all the lessons I learned from all my previous failed relationships, studied them carefully and made sure I did everything right because I didn’t want to mess this up: I was appreciative, I talked openly about my feelings and fears, I made time for us, I did all the things, but it didn’t matter. The relationship still ended.
I didn’t take it well. I am not taking it well. There is the usual ouch of a relationship ending, and the fact that my life got 10% harder again, but there is a deeper wound: the loss of hope. It’s frustrating and embarrassing to lose my shit so thoroughly over a failed relationship. I’ve survived numerous difficulties in my life: multiple forms of abuse, psychosis of a sibling, death of a parent, divorce, and poverty just to name the big ones, but this break-up is the thing I am uncertain I can overcome and that is terrifying.
So I’ve been doing what I always do when things get hard; I work harder. Which brings me back to the fitness tracker and how I got hooked on TED Talks.
I have struggled with depression off and on for most of my life. I have a pretty big arsenal of coping strategies I’ve learned along the way, but the best therapy by far is sweat. I’ve been going to the gym or Zumba or going dancing everyday since we split. The days I have skipped for seemingly “valid” reasons quickly turned into really rough nights and reinforced the need to stick to the routine. The problem is the gym is BORING and weird. People, based on my observations and eavesdropping, are there to lose weight or get bulked up and muscly. That’s great for them, but I don’t really feel like I fit in because I don’t particularly care about either of these things. I am literally just trying to keep myself alive. My real issue with the gym though is that the elliptical and the weights give me too much time to think. Listening to music has proven troublesome because there are too many memories, but TED Talks are awesome. Did you know that there’s an app?! Of course there is. Now I have something to focus on that is positive and productive. Yesterday I learned about Power Posing and today I listened to a talk about the struggle and triumph of children’s author Jarret J. Krosoczka. I’ve been watching them at home too when I cant sleep, and sometimes they even make me feel a little better, not 10% better, but like I can probably make it through the week and that’s a start.