"We broke up and now it feels like my heart is falling out of my butt. we were together for a while and learned how to be "adults" together. How do I learn to be an adult on my own?"
- Question submitted by Anonymous
Slowly. Carefully. Painfully. Triumphantly.
Recently, we released our latest ‘zine collaboration with Autostraddle, called I Broke Up Like This. Here’s a tiny excerpt from an essay I wrote for the ‘zine, where I talk about moving out of the apartment I shared with my girlfriend of five years:
…we made a life together. A real, living, breathing life that tangled together our families, our friends, our clothing, and, the humdinger of all humdingers, my cat, Trey. For both of us, moving in together was a monumental first. It was the first time we’d had a significant other at family functions, the first time we’d shared grocery lists and gym memberships, the first time we negotiated the purchase of new sheets or Christmas trees with someone else. After our respective workdays were over we’d scurry home to our apartment and cook like the adults we believed we were: Shake ‘N Bake Chicken! Chicken Cordon Bleu! Pasta with Chicken! We. Were. Domesticated. (And as you might have gathered, eating way too much chicken.) We went on vacations together. We went to emergency rooms together. We went to Laundromats together. She was my everything, and I hers.
Like you and your ex, Anonymous, we learned to be an adults together. After we split I cried on subway trains, I buried myself in my blankets, I glared at anyone who was pointed out to me as someone I might ‘someday have interest in dating,’ I painted my nails black, I rearranged the furniture in my new apartment, I scratched our old anniversary into the wood of my dining room table, and I felt completely and totally lost. I felt like half of a person.
I know it might sound too simple or too cliched, but the only way you can learn how to be a person in the wake of heartbreak is to focus every bit of your energy on putting one foot in front of the other. Don’t think about next week or next month, just think about today. Maybe it will be a great day and maybe it will be a day where you drop the spaghetti sauce on the floor and you sob for four hours without cleaning it up. If it’s a great day, let it be. Take a walk, go to a museum, buy sunflowers for the kitchen. If it’s a bad day, let it be. Take a walk, go to a museum, buy sunflowers for the kitchen.
When the first layer heals, start allowing yourself to plan a bit more. Think about taking a class in something you’ve always wanted to do. Enroll with a friend so you have someone to help motivate you on those spaghetti-sauce days. Listen to music. Plan a road trip.
It takes time, so you have to give it time.
We have all been there and we all get to the other side.
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