Welcome to a new year, a new decade, a new chapter in my life. I’m a slightly happier, healthier, almost 27-year-old woman, working in a job she loves (that might actually blossom into a life-long career), spending time with friends and family that I admire and care about.Last year, when I was trying to picture what 2020 would look like for me, I never thought it would look peaceful. But it is…and, I am — at peace, and I feel like I need to share how I got to this point in my life.
Do I wish that I could have gotten the closure I’ll secretly always be praying for in the recesses of my brain? Absolutely. Do I WISH more than anything that I were finally okay and that this didn’t still upset me. Clearly, it doesn’t bother him and never did. He never loved me, and I know that now. So why can’t I seem to fully do the same? Why can’t I manage to un-love him? That’s kind of been the problem all along, don’t you think? No matter how much I have hated him the love is still there, waiting.
Honestly, I was visibly sad for most of December, and that’s okay! It means I can still feel things. To some, this is something I should have been over this the day it happened because…well, let’s face it – #thankyounext, but that’s not always how a heartbreak works. Some days the pain hurts so badly that I want to give up. I was ghosted by someone who I thought that I would be engaged to by this year. I had a plan, and he clearly didn’t want any part of that plan, but he also didn’t have the balls to tell me that he didn’t feel the things that I had been feeling for years. Nothing hurts more than having someone you love so desperately not love you in return. I don’t know what’s worse – the way in which he left or the fact that he left me for another girl. Our relationship was so incredibly, disgustingly toxic that I didn’t see it until it was too late and he’s left me here wondering if really I was the problem all along, when the rational side of my brain knows that that just isn’t the case.
He had vanished for months at a time so many other times before so it took me about a month or two into 2019 before I truly believed he had said “peace out” on the “relationship”. He always told me that if he didn’t want to be with me that he would tell me. What a lie, what a lie. Towards the end of December, I started doing some reading in preparation for the new year and in my efforts to keep myself from completely falling apart again. Grief comes in all shapes and sizes and this was definitely a grieving period for me.
January & February: Shock & Denial
He had done this same thing so many times before, but he ALWAYS ended up coming back and texting me with some piss-poor excuse, so I kept thinking that this was the same song and dance, but then I was on Facebook and saw that he was in a picture kissing some other girl, I knew I had to start trying to move on. Things were going really well – I joined a group through Instagram and we were working through a 100 day spiritual journey book. I initiated a 90 day no-contact rule like the book mentioned above told me to do, and I was doing well for a while.
At the end of January, I addressed my romantic issues on a podcast – The Viall Files, hosted by Nick Viall. I spoke about this previously on the blog in a post called “Ghosted by my 31-year-old boyfriend“. Rachel Lindsay was the guest of the day and both of them were appalled at what I shared, while also empathetic in regards to my pain. They told me the best thing that I could do was to move on, live my life to the fullest, and try like hell not to let this moment in time affect future relationships (to the best of my abilities, obviously. Getting hurt takes time to heal and we all heal at different rates and in different ways.)
I hadn’t spoken to my friends in…god, how long had it even been? Well, I hadn’t really spoken to or seen any of my friends in a really long time. I had almost completely cut them off when I was living in CT. I was such a mess. You’d think that I started drinking too much or became an addict of some kind. The way I treated them was horrible. But, no…I was just in a toxic relationship with my blinders covering my eyes. ANYWAY…I wasn’t going to, but I decided to attend my friend’s baby shower. She extended the olive branch, and I was SO happy that I went to her celebration – not only did it make her really happy, but it allowed me to have time to re-integrate into the group without the spotlight being right on me. While I was there, two of my friends mentioned that they heard the podcast I was part of, in late January. I think that was the first time they ever truly understood what I had been going through and the reason I needed to stay gone as long as I did. On the way home from that party, I texted the three boys that have always been there for me because I knew I could still count on them. I asked if we could all get together. They said, “of course”, and that’s when I knew we could still mend the relationship.
I had plans to spend Valentine’s weekend at the La Quinta in New Haven with my fuck buddy. I made the trek up there straight from my office that Friday night. He came to my hotel, late and drunk AF, and then didn’t stay very long after that. I hate when he does that, but we have been hooking up for the last 6 years so I’m used to his bullshit. At least, I thought I was. The next night, a group of us went out for drinks and I was pounding the Long Island Iced Teas. I think I had about 9 or 10, before I finally called it quits and headed back to my hotel room via Uber. The drinks were poorly made, but there are so many different types of liquor in an LIT that it can still leave you on the floor.
I was fine. EVERYTHING was fine. In my drunken stupor, I decided to try and call my ex. The phone call clicked, signaling that a connection had been made, and I could hear him take a breath on the other end. I allowed myself to get excited, but he hung up on me. So, I called back, thinking it was a mistake and this time I said to him “I just want you to listen to me”. He disconnected the call again. I thought it wouldn’t bother me, I was wrong though because as soon as I realized that the moment had passed and that I had somehow managed to screw it all up again, I started crying and I couldn’t stop. It was the emotional breakdown my body had been begging me for, since our relationship began spiraling downhill. I slid past all the brightly colored signs with my blindfold on because I wasn’t ready to let go, and now the pain spoke for me.
I called one of the friends I had been out with. We talked for a little while. Then, I texted my therapist and asked if she could talk. It was nearly midnight, but she called me anyway. We talked for a little while, and then when she knew that I was okay to hang up with her, she did, and I called my uncle then because I knew he was the only person in my family who wouldn’t run to my mother and tell her where i was or that I was upset the way I was. After three conversations, and nearly 2 1/2 hours of crying without any water in sight, I was dehydrated and had given myself such a migraine. I went to bed wanting to run to Hartford to shake my stupid ex-boyfriend, because I still thought, in the back of my mind, that he would come back to me.
The next morning, I hopped into an Uber and left for New York. I’m not sure if the hangover hurt or if it was just the pounding in my skull from all the stifled tears. I didn’t tell anyone about this…until I saw my best friend again for the first time in what felt like a decade, which helped me move further into my grief journey. Being with him again helped me face my pain.
March & April: Pain & Guilt
I honestly don’t know where I would be, if not for my best friend…whom I only recently discovered considers me his best friend. It’s, honestly, an incredible honor and not one that I take lightly. Since I’ve ventured back to the group, he’s made me feel like I never left and that has meant more to him than I can ever explain. There’s nothing worse than feeling like an outsider among your own friend group. He gives me the space I need to come to him in my own time with any problems I’m having. Once I could admit to myself that I was waist-deep in pain, I could create an action plan for healing. I made regular hang-out sessions with my friends a part of my calendar, and I didn’t make excuses that could help me avoid them. Instead, I found myself practically begging to spend as much time as possible in their presence.
He invited me to a Rodney Atkins concert in Wantagh at this odd bar/theatre thing called Mulcahy’s. Basically, it’s where the die-hard patriots of Long Island go to sow their wild oats on the weekends, but I digress. I had never heard of Rodney Atkins, but now his music is part of me and I love sharing that with Bryan and his pals…who, I guess have become my pals now too? Honestly, it feels nice to hang with the boys again because now I am just a girl among them, rather than one of them. After the show, we hung out at a bar closer to my house and I got the chance to sit down and just talk through some things that had happened. It felt good, even though I didn’t necessarily agree with some of their comments. Still, it felt comforting to finally begin the conversation.
Something inside me snapped, and I decided that the only way I could manage whatever was happening was to make some serious changes. I decided that I was going to start trying to lose weight, incorporate exercise into my daily routine, and create a healthier atmosphere. I wasn’t sure where to begin, but I had my Planet Fitness and TITLE Boxing memberships. So I started there and I followed a few fit-fluencers on Instagram. Then, I found Aaptiv, and the game changed completely. I went from almost never exercising and having zero plans, to working out almost six times a week and having several different fitness plans in mind. I incorporated strength workouts, yoga, treadmill exercises, etc. I started seeing the changes right away. Walking to the office wasn’t such a struggle, and I developed a thirst for exercise. Not only did I feel better physically, but it helped me deal with all the pain I had been feeling because I could channel it into an activity. Aaptiv is one of the many reasons that depression didn’t win this time. I channeled my sadness into something much happier.
May, June, July: The Upward Turn
By this time, I’d lost 10 lbs, I was getting into a great rhythm – working harder, reading more books, hanging out with my friends, saving my money. Then…HE texted me, finally. I took a few days to reflect, pray, and think about whether or not I should take the time to listen to him and his excuses for just up and ghosting me. I already knew he had a new girlfriend because of Facebook, even though he chose to lie and pretend he didn’t know what I was talking about. And, that hurt me, but I didn’t let him know that. Externally, I didn’t fall apart, but internally I was a mess. I started binge eating, spending more money, maxing out credit cards that I had paid off. In an effort to get back on track, I started running in Central Park with a group, I became a SoulCycle lover, and I purchased my first bikini’s. I felt UNSTOPPABLE!
September, as you know, was the month that one of my oldest friends got married and I had the time of my life at the ceremony and the reception. It felt so good to feel surrounded by so much peace. And I was, at peace, that is. I’m going to take myself back to the woods every year as a self-reflective weekend. It’ll be good for me. September was such a good month for me. Zack actually made the effort to ask me how the wedding was, and I decided to use that moment to tell him that I wasn’t in love with him anymore – “I have feelings for someone else”, I said, “…but, could we be friends?” “I thought we already were”, he said. After that night, we never spoke again. I guess I had freed him from the chains that kept him tied down and unavailable to officially be with his new girlfriend.
I never got the honesty I so desperately needed from him. I had something new though. For the first time, I didn’t feel an overwhelming sadness when I thought about not being with him. I felt relief where pain had once rested, a sense of calm where all my anxiety was stored, and a new identity. No longer was I “the girl who was ghosted after three years”. I was, and still am, Stephanie – a newer, much better Steph. I’m the Stephanie who knows what she deserves and that “…her destiny isn’t tied to the person who left.” (T.D. Jakes) If you’ve never heard that sermon of his, please go listen to it. I’ve linked the longer sermon this section comes from, for you here, as well as adding the shorter clip below. It’s one of the few pieces of advice that keep me going and have helped me heal in more ways than words can fully describe.
For the longest time, I thought I needed closure to move on from the pain I felt. Some nights are lonelier than others, and I wonder about my pain. The difference now is that I know that the pain can’t consume me. I was meant to meet him and stay with him for as long as I did because it was a part of my destiny. He fulfilled his purpose in my destiny and now I am on another road towards my destiny. He’s a part of the story that built me, but he is NOT the part of the story that’s going to destroy me.
Nothing just happens…”T.D. Jakes