Ah, the breakup. An often-debated topic that I’m sure no one is a stranger to. Breakups come in all shapes, intensities, lengths and sizes. They all have one thing in common, though: they’re never easy. Breakups automatically mean baggage. They can mean physical baggage, like the sweatshirt they left hanging on the back of your bedroom door, or emotional, like the chipped away trust that seems to hover over all the good memories. So we know breakups are hard and heavy, but can they be “clean?”
Is it possible to share secrets, inside jokes, pillow talk, intimacies and addresses and then part ways without taking all the dust and the stains? Is a “clean breakup” even a thing?
I believe that it is – but not without conscious effort, forgiveness and lots and lots of time.
The conscious effort part
Breakups are almost never just done. They can take weeks or months of sorting through conversations, emotions and belongings. They can take years of searching within yourself and unwavering uncertainty. During these various seasons, you have to remain oh so introspective. It all starts with creating a safe distance between you and your former partner. This means actively resisting and manipulating your tendencies and holding back a bit.
This is much easier said than done, especially if you’ve shared an open, intricate past with someone. Not only does this mean that you have to get used to not being candid with someone you once knew so deeply, but it can mean getting used to the fact that your lives really will go on without each other, and someday you really will have to come to peace with that. If you want a clean break, you have to coat your emotions in a nice, neat, collected front for a while.
The Forgiveness part
The calm and collected front can certainly be effective, but if you really want a clean break – you have to confront all the dust and demons and try to make amends with them or even sense of them. This means letting go of all the ways you thought you went right, all the ways you felt hurt or betrayed and all the ways you hoped the outcome would be different. Hindsight 20/20, right?
A clean break means scrubbing yourself free of all the “what ifs” and the “ways it was supposed to be” and moving on. This means avoiding the 3 a.m. drunk text/airing of grievances and resisting the urge to block them/re-request them on Snapchat. It means taking the high road and leaving everything that was left unsaid exactly where it is. It means making peace will all the difficulties and accepting that you might never get the answers, or justifications you crave – and that’s really ok.
The Hardest Part: Time
Why is this the hardest? Because it’s something you have absolutely no control over. Hard as we all try to be numb and repair, the best remedy for a breakup is often the passing of days. You might notice that feelings start to harden, memories begin to dim and things just start to feel, well – different. All around. You’ll also probably start to feel a little bit alone. It’s important to really confront that and learn to not only live with it – but to grow with it. If you try to jump onto the next thrill, relationship, or major life endeavour without letting time do its thing, you will never reach the clean slate you desire, and furthermore – truly deserve.
Relationships are an amazing, invigorating journey, but they force you into a long distance relationship with yourself. This step is all about you. Take the time to think through and fully understand this relationship. Take the time to digest what went wrong, what went right and what’s next.
So yes, at the end of the day – a “clean break” is possible, but only with a heightened level of self-awareness, self-control and self-care.