By Isabelle Laureta
I’d been in an on-and-off relationship for a few years. We’re completely broken up now and I’ve moved on since. I’m sure all the romantic feelings I had for her are gone and if anything, I only care about her now as a friend even though the break up was not as civil as I wanted it to be.
Recently, through our common friends and social media, I found out that after our breakup, she had a relationship with a married man, and the wife exposed her on Facebook about it. Her mom, whom I’ve gotten close with when we were still together, messaged me about the issue telling me that my ex loved me too much and that the emotional impact of our breakup made her do things she shouldn’t have like, you know, getting it on with a committed man.
So now I feel guilty. Is this my entire fault? I’ve been doing great with moving on, but this just throws me off and it’s been bothering me. What do I do?
The morning after my brother’s first girlfriend broke up with him, he burst into tears at the dining table while having breakfast with my parents. It was surreal, because my brother is a very stoic dude, and he seems to treat showing emotions like a crime in our household.
When I broke up with my first boyfriend, he gatecrashed a debut party I was attending—with a can of beer in hand as if he wasn’t already completely drunk—and snatched me out of the party to talk. My friends had to go out and search for me because I was gone for a long time and I missed half the program.
A few weeks later, I, then a minor, was celebrating another friend’s 18th birthday at a bar in Makati. A few vodka sprites later, I turned into this sobbing, puking, hugot-laden mess who could barely get on the taxi back to the condo we were staying at (sorry you had to find out this way, mom and dad.)
When Taylor Swift breaks up with her boyfriend, she writes songs about them, makes millions of dollars out of it, and gains legions of followers who can relate to her one way or another.
Listen, man. What I’m saying is, we all have different ways of coping with hurt. Sure, one can blame the person all they want for breaking their hearts to the point where waking up in the morning seems impossible, but what one does with the pain and emotional damage is one’s own responsibility and theirs alone. Some people burst into tears over eggs and bacon, some people get pissing drunk, some people win Grammys, and some people, unfortunately, go down the wrong path and slide into wrong relationships.
A close friend of mine was diagnosed with bipolar disorder after having extreme suicidal thoughts when his ex suddenly broke up with him a few years back. I asked him if he ever told his ex about it. He said no. When I asked why, he said he didn’t want his ex to feel responsible for it and to think that he was demanding some sort of consolation from her. And I completely agree, because the moment you break up with someone is supposed to be the moment you stop all your connections with him or her. That’s why people delete photos of their exes, because they don’t want to have anything to do with the other person anymore.
There’s this line from The Little Prince that goes, “You are responsible, forever, for what you have tamed.” When I read this again as an adult, I went to my boyfriend and asked, “What if you break up with the person you have tamed? You can’t be responsible for them forever, right?” And he said, “Sometimes, people leave their nests no matter how much they’ve been tamed. And sometimes, part of your responsibility is to let them go when you have to.”
It’s not your fault she’s in deep sh*t right now, because whatever she did—consciously and as a thinking adult woman—was already outside the realm both of you shared. This isn’t to say to pull a Pontius Pilate and wash your hands off the guilt, but rather, to live with the fact that your ex messed up and it may or may not be because of you but there was no way you could have stopped her from doing that. It’s only natural that you feel guilty, Digs, that’s what empathy does to a person. And that’s why empathy sucks sometimes, because it makes us feel things we’re better off not feeling, but it’s also what makes the world a better place if we really think about it.
Just keep doing what you already are. Send her grace and light whenever you feel guilty or sorry for her. She’s a grown woman who makes mistakes but she’ll be fine. And so will you.
Ask me your deepest, weirdest, darkest questions! I’m no expert at anything and I don’t have it all figured out either (because, honestly, who does?), but let me at least try. Send them over to firstname.lastname@example.org and let’smake sense of this crazy Millennial life together! <3
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