A woman seeking advice from her mom, therapist, and employer on how to move on from her ex-boyfriend: 29, single, Los Angeles.
8 a.m. I wake up hazy and anxious before remembering that I was a little tipsy last night. I pick up my phone and check my apps, wondering if I posted anything. This is less of a problem now since I recently blocked my ex on all platforms, including his multiple Instagram accounts that would still show up on lists of who watched my stories. I breathe a sigh of relief — I didn’t post.
10 a.m. I’ve been making ends meet by babysitting a little boy for a family I adore. They typically only need me Monday through Thursday, so yesterday was my off day. It’s a much better gig than my corporate assistant job I was furloughed from when the pandemic hit. I actually feel like I’m needed and appreciated for the first time in years. And I’ve surprised myself with how rewarding caring for a little one is. It feels like I’m living actual life suddenly, of course with the exception of leaving the house or seeing anyone.
1 p.m. Me and my roommate, who is almost like a sister at this point, recount the night before — we definitely watched a lot of The Office. She still has to work remotely today, so I FaceTime my mom for an hour and talk about how fucked up the news is and what she and my dad are having for dinner. Thank God they’ve been taking the coronavirus seriously.
7 p.m. Tonight is pizza night at our apartment and we order Dominos. We fire up the ol’ Zoom, where we play Jackbox games with our friends from college. Or at least those are our intentions. It seems more and more these sessions have given way to long, winding conversations about things like how long we think we’ll have to be in quarantine and which of our friends aren’t taking it seriously. At this point I sometimes go to my room with my plastic glass full of boxed wine, sit on my bed and play Candy Crush until my roommate tells me they are ready for the “game” part of game night.
10 p.m. After “game night” my roommate and I get into a discussion about the nature of love and how men suck. Really cliché drunk girl shit, I’m embarrassed to say.
10 a.m. We make plans to go to our friend’s apartment pool. There’s almost never anyone there and she’s in our bubble.
11 a.m. I woke up feeling uncharacteristically nostalgic for my ex. We dated for two and a half years, until I broke up with him a few months ago. We fought a lot, and I had a habit of getting so angry and shutting off emotionally. Suddenly I have a pang of anxiety and a lump in my throat at the thought of never seeing him again.
3 p.m. My roommate and our friend are both lovely and supportive and almost dunk my phone in the water when I say I want to call him. I’m temporarily comforted by their words of positivity and the knowledge that my roommate and I will be ordering burgers later for dinner.
9 a.m. Whoa, the sadness is back with a vengeance.
2 p.m. I call my mom to talk about my feelings and try to get some clarity on why my boyfriend and I broke up in the first place. She asks me if I have a bad memory. “Look through your old journals at some of the fights you had!” she says.
Our relationship made a very clear negative impression on everyone else, so why do I have trouble remembering what was off about it? My mom gets off the phone to eat dinner back on the East Coast. Left to my own devices, I cave, unblock William Pryorhim, and call him. He doesn’t pick up.
2:45 p.m. Then a text comes through: “Was that a butt dial? Are you ok?” I don’t want to answer in writing. I don’t know if I’m okay. I call again. He doesn’t answer. I try again and he declines it.
3 p.m. “Knock knock,” I text. “This isn’t a good idea,” he writes. I have a joke lined up, but he’ll neve know the punch line. “What?” I ask, knowing exactly what. “We are not doing this again. I hope you are ok but I can’t do this.” I know I shouldn’t push forward … but the lump in my throat! “Well I have a question.”
I proceed to ask him if he’s ever seen a flea circus. I know I’m grasping at straws, but I can’t stop myself. He tells me they’re scams. I don’t know what to say so I tell him I’m researching them (I listened to half a podcast about them recently). The conversation fizzles.
I still feel sad and try to cry. Why did it take me three months to feel this way? My mom calls back, done with dinner, and I tell her what I did. She says the relationship wasn’t right from the start.
4:30 p.m. I tell my roommate what I did. At first she seems disappointed in me, but then I tell her the actual exchange and she laughs. I feel really dumb.
9 a.m. Back to baby world! But the dread still has not lifted … what is happening? It feels like when I was a kid and afraid of the dark — I’d dread every single nighttime, knowing that getting through one only meant another would come, and another after that.
11 a.m. I love playing with the baby but even as I try to be in the moment, there’s this existential dread pulling me down.
1 p.m. When he goes down for a nap, I can’t help but talk a little to his mom about my weekend. She has the most supportive and loving relationship with her husband, one that I did not see growing up and one that I am in awe of. She says a little of what my mom said and adds, “If you are already having communication problems without any of the real big life stuff that would be sure to come in a long-term partnership, then this could have never worked. And life is too short.”
8 p.m. I think about what she says all night.
11 a.m. I start to feel the cloud lifting just slightly. The baby and I finger paint on the porch, read some books, and play with Play-Doh in the backyard. It would be great to say these activities get my mind out of the rumination washing machine, but they don’t — at least not completely. They seem to just give me something to do with my hands and face until evening, when I drive home, wondering if I will ever feel better.
12 p.m. I play with the baby and make him lunch. I get some joy out of any possible escape into his world but it still feels like I’m moving through molasses.
7 p.m. I haven’t had the motivation to clean my room or to do my makeup since this wave hit. I feel like it’s written all over my face, body, and clothes that I’m sad.
10 a.m. Finally, the day I have virtual therapy. Many days I wonder what I will talk about, but this week I’ve been basically marking the calendar just trying to get here so I can lay it all out with my therapist.
4 p.m. When I get home and talk to her I realize I’m feeling a bit better already. In a way it’s kind of annoying, like when something hurts and you go to the doctor but it’s not hurting that day and you’re stuck there shrugging. Even so, I try to describe the feeling to her and she’s empathetic. She says maybe I miss the conflict of that relationship because I don’t have any other relationship that gave me a free pass to speak all of my mind, even if it made me the bad guy. Maybe that aggressive, argumentative role I was playing is what I’m mourning. It’s a big change. When we’re done, I click off my screen, flop onto my bed, relieved.
8:30 a.m. I wake up and feel like I’m slowly coming out the other side, thank goodness. That said, I’m still terrified to date again (not to mention during a pandemic) because I’m afraid I will slip back into anxiety about the unknown.
3:30 p.m. I talk to my roommate about how I’m scared of meeting new people. I’m scared to deal with the social anxiety of trying to make a good first impression. I’m scared of swiping again and potentially seeing his face pop up, smiling back with the same appeal that I once saw. The thought of having to start from scratch scares me, but I try to hold really tight to what my therapist said about things getting better.
9 p.m. I go to sleep thinking this: I know I have to give it time. I don’t feel like I have much of anything right now. I lost the security of my job, the consistency of my schedule, the ability to make out with a stranger at a bar … but something I didn’t lose and now have a lot of is time.
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