Friday, November 07, 2008


Bob* (ok, it's not his real name) is a twenty-eight year old student in Reading, England. He joined SYBD in July of 2003 after his two-year relationship ended. They’d met in a London club a few years prior through mutual friends.

It was that sort of intense connection. I had never met anyone, previously, in a club before. At least not one I had a long-term relationship with, until then…We had a few things stacked against us namely the distance between us (about one and a half hour’s drive), which didn’t help us. I think the relationship was just something we both wanted at the time, but not in the long term, e.g. not forever.

It was a decent relationship which ticked along, but one day came to and over the phone. They both knew it was in the cards but instead of making a “clean break”, they opted for a “two-week trial” break in hopes of softening the blow.

She took a holiday and while she was away she decided, for herself, that it was finished. When we got back together to speak about the future, she made it clear that for her (and us) it would be best to move on.

Even though it had become, in many ways, a relationship of “convenience”, and he knew a break-up was imminent, Bob still felt the pain of detachment quite severely - experiencing all sorts of pains.

I had severe physical effects, which was really strange for me, as it was the first time I'd had any after a split up. The initial reaction was shock (even though I knew it was coming). As it started to sink in, I took a definite down turn. My appetite completely went and I lost a lot of weigh but at least I looked good with this weight loss! I wish I could lose it again!! But I was basically eating next-to-nothing and chain-smoking all the time.

You could tell it had hit me: body language, the sound of my voice, I was unmotivated and lost all enthusiasm for everything. I have a passion for buying lots of music and for six months I didn’t even listen to any music let alone buy any. I'd lost my inspiration to do anything creative and it hit my confidence. It hit me as soon as I woke up in the mornings and didn’t leave until I dropped off to sleep at night. I literally couldn’t think of anything else!

Over the course of the break-up, Bob survived many dips to rock bottom – so many that he can’t even remember them. It was an over all feeling that he’d simply never get better.

It was the first time I'd really had my heart broken badly, and it felt like death. I guess in some ways it was death, the death of the relationship. The feeling of hating life, hating myself and losing all my confidence was particularly soul-destroying for me.

Bob took the advice he was receiving on and made a clean break from his ex which he says was the start of the healing process. He had grown tired of the questions like “what happened with your ex?” and “have you found someone new?” He eventually also got fed up dissecting it all after the split.

I literally felt 'talked out'! It definitely helped. The relationship with my parents definitely got stronger after the split. I have always been close to them, I'm not embarrassed to say that, but it was my mum I turned to, time and time again to talk, talk, and talk some more. Also, I learned that real friends are the ones you could talk to, week after week, about the same thing, often boring them silly, and that they would still be there supporting you.

In addition to talking, Bob coped by staying active both at night and during the days. It’s not uncommon for dumpees to take activity to the ‘extreme’ - as a way of being in denial – so while activity and productivity is good – don’t do it to the exclusion of working through the pain of the break-up.

I used to book up my diary so I was seeing someone every night. It helped just to be busy and could justify to myself that I was really trying. Sure, some nights were terrible, but some were good as well. I started going to the gym regularly and it did help lift my mood. Even though it was the middle of summer and there I was: sweating buckets in a gym, feeling alone, it gave me a structure in my life. I think structure is important. At the very least, it’s much more preferable than, as a worst-case scenario, sitting in your flat/house wallowing in self-pity.

The break-up certainly made Bob look at his life and he started asking important questions about where it was going. He decided to make a change or two.

I applied for University as a mature student to become a social worker. I'm halfway through the course now and am so glad I did it. I've also started some radio presenting/DJ work at the university which is something I'd wanted to do for years.

Bob feels like it’s a pleasant surprise to look back and see all the positive ways his life has changed since his break-up.

I'm surprised at how my feelings of relief came up. I am really glad it finished. We weren’t right for each other. At the time, I think I tried to make her the villain but in reality, I think she was the hero. She really had tried her best to finish as painlessly as possible.

When I turned around and said we needed to have 'no contact at all forever!', it really hit her hard. I know the split-up was very upsetting for her too. I just really hope she is doing well.

Overall, SYBD is an encyclopaedia of great advice. The no contact rule was great but hard rule to adhere to. Other things that spring to mind were so many messages like, 'if you were meant to be together, you would be' - which is something I strongly believe in. Just hearing other people's stories really helped a lot. My only regret was not finding this site sooner.

Bob thinks anyone going through a break-up needs to mourn for a bit and to go easy on themselves, but then to start to tackle the pain, head-on. Here are more survival tips from Bob.
1. It doesn’t matter how long it takes - some people take years to get over it.
2. Join a gym, take up hobbies.
3. Try and read more.
4. Do anything at first to take your mind off things.
5. Try and be as busy as you can, even if you don't feel like going out (which you won't), do it anyway.
6. Call on your friends for support - you'll have some pleasant surprises, they do really care for you.
7. Go to your family for support (if possible).
8. Try and change things in your life so you have new things to think about that aren’t associated with the ex.
9. Go on holiday, if your friends won't come - go alone.
10. Try traveling.
11. Opt for a career change.
12. Change up your flat or house, redecorate it - start afresh.
13. Each time you cry, remind yourself, it is a good thing. It's all part of the process of recovery.

Bob suggests that someone healing from a break-up needs to be honest with his or her self.

Only you know in your heart if the one you’re with is really your soul mate. Don't fall for the 'but no one else might not take me/may not find me attractive/this might be my last chance' rubbish. You need to remember that you are a good, lovable person and don't just settle by taking the first person who becomes available. I would also say keep your independence when in a relationship. Yes put 100% into the relationship, but don't forget about your friends, family, hobbies, dreams and your aspirations.

Even though, at the time, Bob was devastated – when he looked back at the relationship after a year or so – he realised it was one of the best things that could have happened to him. He realised he’d known all along she wasn’t really “the one” for him, but at the time he felt like his world had finished when it ended.

If I'm completely honest, the relationship was convenient for me, I like being in relationships and we seemed to get on ok, and we enjoyed each other's company. But we never really 'clicked', and we had many different interests and thoughts on life. I really should have been a bit more independent during the relationship, and not spent my spare time only being with her...but that is something I have learned for the future.

These days, Bob can now empathise with someone who is heartbroken, and feels like he could give good advice and point them in the right direction. His break-up has also helped him understand himself a lot better in terms of his actions and his feelings. Given his experience, he fully comprehends what is meant by being on an “emotional roller coaster” but he’s all the better for having survived the ride. Bob got busy, worked out, quit his job and went back to university to do social work. The break-up resulted in strengthening ties with his family and friends and allowed him the benefit of a greater self-awareness. While he is currently seeing someone new, he’s certain he will manage if they unthinkable were to happen. He survived once, he’ll do it again – after all he’s a survivor.

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