Puzzle Pieces

Break ups are funny sometimes.

Despite all the pain and hurt they can cause and have caused, they’re really quite funny.

Well, at least in my experience.

A week and a half ago, I found myself up late in the Seattle hostel my friends and I were staying in during spring break. Here, I was ferociously writing about how much I still hated my ex. Even though I thought I had gotten past that stage ages ago. Granted, I was just a little (okay, maybe a lot) drunk in that moment…but the next day, as a much more sober Britta tried to decipher the messy, emotion-filled words of the night before, I still resonated with them.

We broke up more than a year and a half ago and I still find myself thinking about him sometimes.

The pain has dulled–the fact that he hurt me, really the fact that we hurt each other, is still incredibly real–but the pain isn’t nearly as sharp as it once was.

But it’s still there. It still dwells within me–along with all the good times we had, along with how important he was to me, how much I did love him. Yes, it was love for the wrong reasons, it was a selfish love, a love to make me feel better about myself.

It was still love, though. He was still my first love.


The term “break-up” assumes everything is over. It assumes that one person that used to mean so much no longer matters. It assumes that moving on is easy.

Well, if that’s the biggest load of rubbish I’ve ever heard.

Everything is over between us. It has been for a while.

But that doesn’t mean the feelings are gone, that with those magic words “We’re breaking up,” everything we had together disappeared into thin air. Because it didn’t. And it shouldn’t.

I spent almost two years with my ex-boyfriend and even though they certainly weren’t the best two years of my life, they are still a part of my story. I learned so much about myself from that relationship, I grew so much. And we did have our good times. It wasn’t all bad.

The truth is, even though I no longer love him, even though I have no desire to be with him again, and even though he hurt me incredibly, I still do care about him. And I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that. He was a big part of my life for half of my college career, and there is absolutely nothing wrong with that.

I honestly think I wouldn’t have been able to express the hatred I was feeling towards him that night in the hostel if a part of me still didn’t care of him. I think hate is a very real feeling, a feeling that can only emerge from an emotional attachment of sorts. If I really didn’t care about him anymore, I wouldn’t feel any emotion towards him, not even hatred. But I do and I’m still working through these feelings, and that’s okay. These emotions are good, they are all part of the process of moving forward.

You know, I’ve discovered that break ups are kind of like a very large puzzle. Just when you think you’ve completely moved on, another unfinished piece manifests itself…and who knows how long it will take before the puzzle is completely and totally finished.

I’m okay with that, though. This unfinished puzzle is just one more piece of my journey through this incredible adventure called life.

And I am learning so much.

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20 thoughts on “Puzzle Pieces

  1. There’s so much I could say about this one, but I’m going to keep it brief because I have no idea where to even begin. What I will say is that I’m in my 40s now and I still haven’t figured it all out how to “handle” the emotional mess of a breakup, or if it’s even something that needs to be “handled”.

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    1. Does it even need to be “handled?” Hm, I think that’s an interesting question. I think I’m at the point where it doesn’t necessarily anymore, but at the same time, I still need to write about it sometimes. I thought about writing at the end of this post, but for some reason decided not to, that maybe the puzzle will never be finished and maybe that’s okay…these things are so tricky, but I also know I’ve learned a lot from this experience…and I think that’s what’s important.

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      1. I think it’s important to feel your feelings. It’s okay to feel what you feel. You’re human. I don’t think it’s healthy to “try” to stop caring. Of course there is a point where obsessing about the past becomes unhealthy too. Like you said, these things are tricky. They are great learning experiences. Every. Single. Time. You never stop learning from breakups. It’s too bad these learning experiences have to hurt so damn much.

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      2. True that. I absolutely agree, it is not healthy to try to stop caring at all. I think as long as I feel and try to accept my feelings as they come, it’s the best I can do. Sometimes that’s easier said than done, of course! I’m still learning from this break up and it’s been a year and a half so it’s so true…you never stop learning from them.

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  2. I’ve never been in a relationship, but I do resonate with the feelings that you described. I dealt with the pain of the “break up” (if you want to call it that) for over two years and it was honestly the most painful thing I have ever experienced. Do I hate the guy? No. I have actually come to love and respect him in a completely different way now even if we don’t talk anymore. I learned a lot about myself during that time period and four years later I’m STILL learning a lot about myself through that situation. He is apart of my story whether I want him there or not and that is okay by me. 🙂

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    1. Exactly. I think all the learning I’m taking away from this is the most important part. It’s frustrating sometimes, but I also know I wouldn’t be who I am today without the relationship I had with my ex. For all the pain and confusing emotions I’ve experienced since we broke up, it has been worth it…and I know I can always turn to writing when I need to sort things out in my head.
      Thanks for the comment. 🙂

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  3. The beauty and pains of first love. You are young and have to learn much from the world around you but on second thought, no one really stops learning, it is a forever process in life. Such is the mystery. 🙂 Stay true and honest to yourself!

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    1. That’s true. If you approach life with an open mind and an open heart, I really don’t think it’s possible to stop learning.
      I know I’ve already learned a lot in my short 22 years, but there is so much more for me to learn on this journey.
      Thanks for your input!

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  4. Your attitude toward this is very mature and wise. Looking at it from a puzzle POV is really positive. As women, we can make terrible choices in relationships, but if (when) we move on, then it IS like another piece of the puzzle. Or another notch on my belt, LOL. After a divorce and a long-term bad relationship, I re-met my now husband and couldn’t be happier. And it IS a journey, even when you find the right relationship! Excellent post!

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    1. Thank you so much, Terri! It’s so meaningful to hear that from someone who has experienced a lot more of life than me. 🙂
      Yes, it will be a bit of a different journey when I find the right relationship, but it will still be a journey nonetheless!
      So glad you enjoyed this post!

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  5. I’m glad that you’re doing better, Britta!

    Break ups are difficult, hands down. It’s okay to feel anger. It’s okay to *feel* period after a break up. When my last boyfriend broke up with me, he did it over text message. What hurt the most about the break up process between us was the fact that my family and I were less than two days away from our vacation spot. It’s taken the majority of this school-year for me to stop feeling awkward whenever I see him in class. It’s taken many months for me to focus on the present instead of hovering in the past.

    I’m proud that you’ve come to such a wise and peaceful decision about your break up. Your relationship wasn’t easy. You’ve handled this part of your life with maturity and grace.

    That said, I feel like you might benefit from visiting with one of the counselors on campus. While you seem to be figuring things out quite well on your own, it doesn’t hurt to talk to someone. I’m not saying this to be pushy, but because I care about your well being. 🙂

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    1. Thank you for your concern, Meghan. That said, I have been on this journey for quite some time (1.5 years if you recall) and have developed a pretty good understanding of myself and what I need to do to make myself feel mentally stable. Sometimes that involves talking to people and sometimes that just involves writing it out. Right now I am content with writing stuff out. As someone who spent all of last spring semester in weekly counseling sessions, I know the counseling center is there if I need them and I’m pretty good at recognizing when I do need them.

      I’m proud of myself and I’m very content and happy with where I’m at right now…I am continually learning more about myself and writing when I need to. I agree that it is very good to feel feelings and I am trying my best to do that right now. I would not be who I am today if I hadn’t gone through this whole process. It certainly hasn’t been easy, but it has been very rewarding.

      Also, that is a terrible way to break up. Seems rather cowardly, actually. It’s way harder to do the whole break up process in person, but there are certain times in life where it’s just better in the long run to take that more difficult route.

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      1. I agree with your last statement completely. Yeah, Adam (he was my last boyfriend) said–texted–that he didn’t want to see me cry. Now that I think about it, it was a cowardly way for him to break up with me. And also rude and selfish on his part. He *knew* I was going on a family vacation. He could’ve told me via Skype earlier, before we left. Or, he could’ve waited until *after* the vacation to break up with me. Whatever. It’s done. I’d rather be at peace than brood and vent. He’s nice to me in class and I’m nice to him. We still have fandoms in common, but we keep our distance. It’s for the best, really.

        Glad you know when you need help! 🙂 I hope I haven’t seen pushy. 😛

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  6. When I was your age, I had a similar, bone crushing break up that I thought I wouldn’t survive. Every day, for a very long time, I would come home from work and cry my eyes out about the loss of my love. One beautiful Fall day, I wanted to go home and cry but I also wanted to remain outside. So I thought, ‘where can I go to enjoy this beautiful day and still cry my eyes out’. I decided that a cemetery was the perfect place. I found one nearby and went looking for a tombstone to sit on so I could start my crying jag. But unfortunately, I had wandered into a very large historical cemetery and it was difficult to find a grave of someone who died within my lifetime that I could ‘mourn’. I ran from grave to grave, desperately looking for someplace to cry. And then I started laughing hysterically at myself. I stopped crying over that guy that day and went on to find much healthier relationships. Therapy helped :-). You will get there and enjoy wonderful love in your future.

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    1. Ahh, I cannot express how much I love this story, Lisa! Thank you for sharing. I’m certainly not mourning my relationship with my ex-boyfriend anymore. I got past that stage a long time ago. I’m just experiencing a lot of weird left over residue from spending two years of my life being so close to this one person. These things take time and I’ve just come to accept that this is going to be a process. My past relationship took a lot out of me and I also learned a lot from it. I think this long process is only natural, and it has also helped me better myself in more ways than one.
      Thank you for your comment. 🙂

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  7. I just recently experienced my first break up in my first relationship and your post resonates with me. It helps me to hear other stories, to know I’m not as alone as I can sometimes feel, and that friendship, growth, and learning can and do come from growing together with someone and then giving each other space. Here’s to personal growth and future relationship happiness!

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    1. Break ups are hard, especially the first one. The ex boyfriend I speak of in this post was my first boyfriend ever and I was an absolute wreck when he first tried to break up with me (by first time, I mean he tried to break up with me in July and I freaked out, had a border line panic attack, and basically forced him to go on a break instead of breaking it off entirely…we got back together for three weeks in August before we broke up for good). I have never cried so much than in the course of those two days in July 2013. Break ups are scary and lonely. I understand how you might be feeling. I’m glad my post could help you a bit. Hang in there. And indeed, cheers to personal growth and relationship happiness in the future! 🙂

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      1. I had a really bad couple if days, but I’m doing okay. I realized there were things I could have done differently and things that maybe I should have discussed more. I still care for him a great deal and I think we can be friends, the friendship has always been there. I think we just reached a point where we weren’t at the same place in our lives. There were a lot of external pressures that I know made me confused about myself for a while. I don’t know… I definitely learned a lot, about myself, about incorporating someone into your life, and about what I need and want. I think I’m a better person for having known him.

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      2. I’m glad can approach your break up from a positive light. That’s not an easy thing to do; I’ve found it’s the best thing for me. There were a lot of things wrong with my relationship, but I agree–I’m certainly a better person for having known my ex, too. 🙂

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