The end of a 10-year relationship
Last year, I did what everyone tries to do after a relationship ends: make sense.
Greetings from Barcelona everyone—
I’ve been feeling pretty overwhelmed over the past few weeks and as usual, the proximate cause is that I’m trying to do too many things at once. The renovation, my consulting work, parenting, climbing, two hours of Spanish class every morning, and adjusting to living abroad—it’s feeling like a lot.
Thus, the next few weeks I’m going to tee up some posts that have been sitting in my draft folder for a long time, which I haven’t published for one reason or another.
The first below is something I wrote nearly a year and a half ago, in the immediate aftermath of the breakup with my partner of 10 years. With some distance, I’m ready to share, in part because I almost never see good writing about this subject, and also because what I wrote then still feels accurate and true to what happened and how I feel about it.
Maybe it will be some small help to others trying to make sense of a similar experience.
Sense-making after a relationship ends
I wrote this a year and a half ago. As a reminder, putting it all in a block quote:
I’m single again.
I’m not gonna tell the story. There will be no details, and I’m not going to explain here what happened.
And yet understanding what happened is a lot of what I’ve been doing in the months since it ended. I am deeply sad and in mourning for the loss, besides a few other emotions. Yet the overriding thing when I step back from myself and observe is that my sense-making apparatus is in high gear.
When relationships end, we try to tell ourselves the story of what happened and why. We negotiate that shared narrative with our ex, or not, and then we revise and iterate until the story feels right, feels True. Or, we decide to care less about Truth and instead look for a story that serves our emotional needs or advances our purposes. Perhaps we search for a story that allows us to move on.
For my part: I like to think I’m searching for what is True.
But it is hard.
Quite often a couple cannot agree on what happened, and this becomes the source of much pain and hurt and resentment. Or, they agree on some parts and not others. Or they agree in broad strokes but not on specifics, or on specifics but not about what they mean on the whole.
The temptation is always to grasp on to your version for all it’s worth and make it the version, and fault the other for their deviation, their refusal to see things the way you see them.