Huh. I'd forgotten what it felt like to have one's heart in one's stomach.
June 26, 2011 8:33 AM   Subscribe

Coping advice for a dating trauma? Soothing words before I can see my therapist? Do I go through a job interview tomorrow?

Hey folks,

Broken-up with, rather surprisingly, last evening, with a man I'd seen for two months. He lives a bit away, so we've seen each other with an exception or two every weekend and talked an hour on the phone every night aside from that, with an exception or two. We've been having sex from the get-go, and exchanged really sappy emotional statements. All of said intimacies occurred yesterday, prior to the unexpected breakup.

Firstly, I am in therapy, and will see my therapist Thursday. I am considering calling him Monday in the AM. One of the big things I'm dealing with in therapy is abandonment issues. And yes, I feel abandoned by this dude, I've made that connection.

Secondly, dating is a bit fraught with peril for me. I wrote and deleted a bunch of history that probably isn't pertinent; let's just say that there have been many bad endings. I think that I've learned from said endings, and with this last guy, and the handful of guys over the last few years, serious and not, I think I've been pretty good guy -- I'm a chick, but you get what I mean. Explosions have happened though, albeit on the guys' side. And I've been like, 'Is this karma for what I did to guys in my twenties and early thirties?'

Thirdly, I'm in a wheelchair because of partial paralysis from the waist down. This just complicates the shit out of things.

Fourthly, I'm not suicidal or nothin'. Just distraught. I don't need to go to the ER. But I'm not capable of much but watching movies.

Fifthly, I have a job interview tomorrow. Or I would, but the interviewer has been on vacation; has only left a message that she wants to meet with me tomorrow. I've tried every way of God's green earth of contacting her for a definite time but no dice. Should I reschedule this until a time when my brain is not mush and I'm not crying a lot?

Okay you wonderful and wise people: I need your wisdom. Thanks.
posted by angrycat to Human Relations (33 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite

This too shall pass. It makes you mad when someone tells you during the crisis, but you'll kind of laugh when you look back later and realize it did pass. Good luck.
posted by jitterbug perfume at 8:39 AM on June 26, 2011

Best answer: If you're still stinging from rejection, what would be the best most opposite thing of that? Maybe being offered a job? I would schedule the interview and really work on compartmentalizing the emotional issues from the professional ones.
posted by Think_Long at 8:48 AM on June 26, 2011 [6 favorites]

Best answer: Aw. I'm sorry. It stinks to be dumped. And you were still in the early dreamy fun stages and it sounds like you got sucker-punched. So, yeah, no doubt you're reeling a little and feeling weepy and sad. You're entitled.

But. If this guy isn't the right one for you (and he's not, or it wouldn't have ended) then it's better to have found out now than to have invested more time. So just be good to yourself, and say things to yourself that you'd say to your best friend, or your sister at a time like this. Things like, "You're gorgeous and smart and accomplished and I love you". Or, "Angrycat, you are strong and tough and you have a huge heart, so of course this hurts, but you can power through and come out better than ever."

Yes, call your therapist and see if you can get in sooner than Thursday, or maybe just get a little coping advice on the phone. Call a friend and go see a movie tonight or go out for your favorite food. And I'd keep the job interview if possible. Don't let this guy cost you something you want and have been working towards. Just tell yourself that you're going to pull it together, rise to the challenge and show Ms. Messages-About-Interview-From-Vacation that you mean business and you're All That And More.

Because I think you are.

Hugs to you, honey. We've all been there and you're not alone.
posted by Kangaroo at 8:52 AM on June 26, 2011 [4 favorites]

Best answer: I would call the interviewer first thing tomorrow morning and see about what time you should come in for the interview. If she's just back from vacation, she may need to reschedule, but you'll be the one who was on top of things. If she's available to interview you, cry as much as you can before you shower for the interview. The post-cry feel goods might hold you over until after the interview is over.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 8:53 AM on June 26, 2011 [6 favorites]

Best answer: Honey, that fucking sucks. Out loud. So sorry someone treated you that way :(

Re the job interview, here's the thing. The relationship is over. It has no future. The job, however, is not over and possibly does have a future. If at all possible, I would avoid throwing one out with the other.
posted by DarlingBri at 8:57 AM on June 26, 2011 [4 favorites]

Best answer: There is really nothing more fortunate than being freed from a relationship with a phony (for only a phony could behave the way this fellow did all day, then break up with you) before you wasted more than a couple of months of your life, entwined living situations, got a pet together, etc. Try finding things to laugh at about this clown: it's as cathartic as crying and more appropriate to the circumstances, and your psychic health.
posted by Scram at 8:57 AM on June 26, 2011

Best answer: Let me see if I understand this correctly. All phone contact with dude was normal during the week, dude came to see you this weekend, exchanged sappy emotional statements with you, had sex with you and then dropped you flat? Charming.

So of course, all red history lights are now lit and your internal alarms are going off. I wouldn't worry about the karma - you're already doing all that you can to even things out, right? You've been a good guy. Keep being a good guy. That's all you can do. Let karma work itself out, don't add to it by beating yourself up.

And yeah, being partially paralyzed and in a wheelchair will drive some folks away. Nothing you can do about that, either. And apparently, dude wasn't really up for it, either. Good to know now.

I'm thinking that if you feel the need tomorrow morning, do call and see if your therapist could move your appointment forward. One thing you can do, and at least you'll have tried, even if you just end up biting your knuckles till Thursday.

Second thing you can do is be pro-active about the interview tomorrow. You've already tried many times to get in touch with prospective boss, try again early tomorrow morning. Might be good to be flexible enough to go ahead with it. But if you're absolutely not able, schedule a new appointment. You two didn't firm things up, so scheduling conflicts can happen, no blame either side. But I do think that if you try and go for it, you might surprise yourself - and this would totally take you out of the blue zone.

Cry a bunch. Hug yourself. We care about you.

(and hey, dude's now got himself some major karma)
posted by likeso at 9:03 AM on June 26, 2011 [2 favorites]

Best answer: Wow, you too? I'm in a phase where I'm still not sure what happened Saturday (long story and bf knows I'm here, so I'll just leave the confusion as confusing because, well, it's confusing).

On preview, as others have said while I was typing the rest :) yeah, it's better to have found out now than later, and it's unfair of him to pull that on you right after having been cool. It doesn't reflect well on him.

I'm also totally feeling you because I have abandonment issues as well, and no later than Friday evening was telling my analyst how sometimes I panic when I wonder when (not "if", but "when", it's irrational) this nice guy will turn out like my father did (father was kind and funny until I hit puberty and my mother convinced him that daughters seduce their fathers at that age. Suffice it to say, I basically no longer had a kind or supportive father at all after that, and since I had bad high school experiences as well – nerd ahoy – I have a deepset fear of betrayal/abandonment by people I genuinely trust).

Sleep and being kind to yourself help. Pamper yourself. Use today to let yourself feel the godawful ups and downs, it's only natural. I think you'll feel well enough tomorrow, after a good night's sleep (as possible anyway), to present for the appointment. Do keep trying to contact her for a definite time too! Who knows, the fates might be on your side and she may need to postpone a bit. But if she doesn't, I think you'll be okay, and feel better for having gone. Give yourself a pep talk, tell your hurt-heart side that it will only be 2 hours (or whatever) of needing to hold it together and that afterwards you'll pay it close and caring attention. I've found that talking to my painful emotions like that, respectfully negotiating with them to get things done that need to be done, does actually help.
posted by fraula at 9:04 AM on June 26, 2011

Best answer: that sucks what happened with the relationship. people handle things in different ways, and my take is that you need to be strong, show up for the job interview well-prepared and do your best at the interview. life doesn't wait for us, so make the best of what you have.
posted by mikesrex at 9:25 AM on June 26, 2011

Best answer: And I've been like, 'Is this karma for what I did to guys in my twenties and early thirties?'

Only in the sense that you can get a sense of romantic invincibility if you get away with things like that. So you forgot that you could get hurt too, and the current losing streak is just probability.

Accept your feelings of hurt--allow yourself to feel hurt. Then go to the interview and start dating again.
posted by Ironmouth at 9:27 AM on June 26, 2011 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I'm so sorry, angrycat. Big hugs to you. This old thread of mine about coping with a broken heart contained some good suggestions, lots of sympathy and the reassurance that you're not alone. This too will pass, but be kind to yourself in the meantime, for as long as it takes.
posted by penguin pie at 9:31 AM on June 26, 2011

Best answer: I'm sorry, angrycat :(

I got sucker-punched myself last year, albeit under very different circumstances, and the first thing I did was cut any and all digital ties I could think of and threw everything else that reminded me of him into a box. The "out of sight, out of mind" method was really helpful in reducing the spontaneous bursts of tears.

This won't help the hurt go away, but it might help being able to leave the house without looking like you've been crying, and will give you less to visualize that might bring on tears. (Future bonus: Throwing out the box!)

Be good to yourself and go to that interview.

(Oh, and I'm a huge proponent of the no-contact theory. There's no way I would have moved past that relationship without it.)
posted by Room 641-A at 9:36 AM on June 26, 2011 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Thanks all; I only have a few folks I know in the area, only one well enuf to contact about this (which I have) so it does my heart a world of good to have internet wisdom here. Really.

A follow-up question:

1) I quit smoking last year. Smoking again. Any ex-smokers out there with some advice?

Also, I hoped I didn't bash the guy in the question. He has something going on, fer sure, but I don't think he went into this intending to do ill.
posted by angrycat at 9:56 AM on June 26, 2011

Best answer: I'm an atheist, but the serenity prayer is stll the organizing principle of my life. God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change (some guys are douche bags), the courage to change the things I can ( Going forward with the interview and possibly starting a new positive chapter in your life) and the wisdom to know the difference (or the wisdom to ask metafilter about it;)
posted by bananafish at 10:04 AM on June 26, 2011

Best answer: The smoking thing is much more serious than the ex-boyfriend or even the job interview as it's something that can seriously harm you or kill you. Start googling some stories and images of lung cancer patients now before you get addicted again and hopefully you'll be able to stop before it becomes a really big deal that you've started again. That might sound really crazy but you do what you have to do and it worked for me.
posted by hazyjane at 10:20 AM on June 26, 2011

Best answer: angrycat, put that cigarette out right now and start setting out clothes for your job interview tomorrow. Print out some copies of your CV on nice expensive paper, too. When you get the call tomorrow, you will be all cool, nonchalant, and ready.
posted by tel3path at 10:31 AM on June 26, 2011 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Oh man, angrycat, I am so sorry. That guy was an asshat. You're well shot of him, although I know it doesn't feel that way right now.

If I were in your situation, I would over-schedule myself until I had the time, space, and support to really process things. Probably not healthy, but as a coping mechanism of last resort, works. And yes, see if your therapist can move your appointment up--what can it hurt to ask?

Mentally prepare yourself for the interview not happening Monday, just in case. Consider all of the upsides of this: more time to prep for the interview, learn about the company, read up on the latest industry/trade publications, etc. I don't know if you're the girly type, but taking yourself out to buy a new interview-appropriate accessory (earrings, a scarf, a belt, whatever) will eat some time and head space.

Finally, about the smoking: Throw those little bastards out the window now! I don't normally condone littering, but you've got to get rid of them in a manner that you can't go back an retrieve them later. If this has been a chronic thing beyond the periodic hankering that plague ex-smokers, and if this is not your first relapse, you might want to consider electronic cigarettes. I bought one in February and it's been great. I hardly ever use it anymore, except for when I get that "OMG I need to buy a pack RIGHT NOW" feeling. They're kind of expensive to get started (don't buy 'em at the mall, whatever you do), and I would only recommend them if you find yourself relapsing a lot. Check the forum out if you decide to go this route--good people, and a ton of good advice and info.
posted by smirkette at 10:42 AM on June 26, 2011

Best answer: Blagh. Breakups are awful. Sudden breakups are the second worst thing in the world, right after incomplete breakups (the ones where the guy just stops returning calls).

If you don't have a firm time set for your interview, and it's supposed to be tomorrow, I can see how that would be causing you a lot of anxiety. At this point, there's nothing you can do until the interviewer gets back you. And if, at this late point in the game, the interviewer e-mails and says, "Can we meet at nine a.m.?" you have every right to be like, "I'm sorry, but I need a bit more advance time. Can we do it Tuesday or Wednesday instead?" (Seriously, I would be a little annoyed if I had a tentative interview scheduled and the potential employer didn't bother to establish a firm time more than 24 hours in advance.)

But you have an opportunity to focus on something that is just for you. All yours. Not for anyone else. Ex-boyfriends can go jump in a lake, but you are going to get a fabulous new job because you are fantastic. If you can reframe the interview tomorrow as a chance to display your awesome, to say, "I am angrycat, and that is by definition a wonderful thing to be," then maybe you can feel good about it instead of anxious/doomed/puffy-eyed.

On the other hand, don't get mad at yourself if you really don't feel up to anything but watching movies. (Unsolicited movie selection advice: No chick flicks, except maybe The Mirror Has Two Faces, because it's the most awful movie in the universe and yet it still produces buckets of cathartic tears.)

Also, try to do something nice for yourself today. Bubble baths are my favorite, particularly bubble baths accompanied by loads of books, and sometimes bubble baths with candles all around, and in moments of great indulgence (this is one), bubble baths during which you sip a nice glass of wine or smoke a j and eat some chocolate. Give yourself a manicure, or better yet, go and pay someone else to give you a manicure if you can afford it right now. If you can afford a massage, go get one, stat. Eat nice things, drink nice things, listen to and watch and read and touch nice things.

posted by brina at 11:14 AM on June 26, 2011

Best answer: If you start smoking again, the terrorists will have won! Don't do it.

As for the job interview ... a few weeks ago I had a horrible cold, relationship issues, and an interview I could not reschedule without tanking the whole thing. I sucked it up and went, and I am very glad. It went just fine, and I would have felt really weak and defeated if I had not gone.
posted by yarly at 12:01 PM on June 26, 2011 [2 favorites]

Best answer: Smoking advice: Take the ashtray and dump the contents into a glass jar with a lid. Close the lid. You're done smoking. Whenever you get the craving, take a whiff of what's inside the jar. That's what you smell like to us non-smokers. You don't want that. If a few puffs got you through this trauma, fine. But don't do this to yourself. Have some chocolate instead. Or buy a new lipstick or a pair of cute shoes. Comfort yourself with something that is good for you. How about ... wine? A gorgeous coffee table book with pictures of Italy or food porn or whatever you enjoy looking at. Maybe plan a weekend to go see your family or best friend. Put your cigarette money towards that.

I'd buy you a drink or two if we were neighbors. Let's both have a cocktail at 7pm tonight and toast each other. Cheers!
posted by Kangaroo at 12:07 PM on June 26, 2011 [2 favorites]

Best answer: Jerky McJerkpants never deserved you, but he ESPECIALLY doesn't deserve the power to ruin your health. With every cigarette you're allowing him to assert power over you.

Pick a different indulgence with which you don't have addiction issues, like ice cream or facials or buying Vera Bradley bags off eBay on the cheap, and indulge in it for a little while. In the long run it'll be cheaper. In the very long run, MUCH cheaper -- poor health is expensive even before the chemo.
posted by endless_forms at 2:22 PM on June 26, 2011

Also, if you feel you'd like to, will you come back and let us know how you get on with the interview, if it takes place? Don't want to be intrusive, so no problem at all if you don't want to - but we all care and will be rooting for you.
posted by penguin pie at 2:51 PM on June 26, 2011 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Angrycat!
My 20 year marriage ended and then I had an (abbreviated) dating experience like yours. He didn't even bother to call me to end things. I was (and still am) hurt though I know I deserve better. I took up smoking again. It seemed to help in between the pain of the ended marriage, being dumped by this guy (and a couple of other major life stresses). Before the end of the month though, my chest started hurting so badly I could hardly breathe. I knew I didn't want to smoke for all sorts of reasons: health, cost, social aspect; but if you're a long term smoker and experience depression, you will know, cigarettes can give you a lift. It's still not worth it.

Angry cat. Put those cigarettes down now. Choose your last three (or number of your choice) from the packet and destroy the packet. Soak them in water so they're impossible to use. Make this stand for yourself because the longer you leave it, the harder it gets. Remember all the hard work you went through to quit. You have a small window of opportunity where you can re-quit without much heartache / pain, but it's a very small window. Use it. Everytime you feel like a cigarette after your last one, do some deep breathing. Have a drink of water. Distract yourself. Just don't smoke.
posted by b33j at 3:10 PM on June 26, 2011

Best answer: There is no reason to think that karma is agin' you. Everyone has dumped, everyone has been dumped. It sucks to be the dumpee. I'm so sorry you're going through this.

I'd go to the job interview. Here's why: right now, you are feeling really low. If you don't get the job, I think you could just say to yourself, "Well, I had just been broken up with! I wasn't at my best." And you'd be right, and who would blame you? No one. You might be hurt, but you'd probably have seen therapist by the time you found out. And so I doubt it would be worse than you are feeling right now, which I know is pretty damn hurt.

But if you DO get the job, the confidence boost will be awesome. And you need that!

So, for that job interview, fake it. Seriously. Go in like you are the winningest winner that ever won. They don't know you, they have no idea what you are going through, and you might just knock their socks off. You are actually in the enviable position of having nothing to lose.

Good luck! And put down the cigarettes.
posted by misha at 4:33 PM on June 26, 2011 [1 favorite]

Best answer: How about making yourself a deal--you're going to go have an awesome job interview and then you're allowed (or obligated!) to spend the rest of the day watching movies and eating Ben and Jerry's and mourning the loss of the relationship. (Or whatever your preference.Probably not the cigarettes, though.) My great-aunt always called this "throwing yourself a pity party". (Also, if you need a smile, picture a little old church lady with a white pocketbook in the crook of her arm and a head full of white curls saying 'I'm having a pity party today.') Get it out of your system.
posted by Green Eyed Monster at 6:05 PM on June 26, 2011

Response by poster: Thanks everybody.

Still reeling here. I'm sort of hating myself for caring about this person. I'm sort of hating myself for not hating him, except in the moments where I do hate him, and then I hate myself for hating. I'm sort of hating myself for the fact at, age 41, I am apparently still blind as to dangerous romantic entanglements. I sleep, wake up, for a moment everything is okay, and then I remember -- this thing that I thought was the wondrous thing that I'd trained myself to not expect (being with a good guy and having it work) was pretty much a nasty illusion.

But tomorrow I'm doing the interview. I wish I could say that I am going to finish the cig pack and not buy another, but shit, it feels like cigarettes and coffee and Buffy reruns are about the only things making things bearable. But I am committed to giving them up, and thank you all for encouraging.
posted by angrycat at 6:45 PM on June 26, 2011

Have you been to the interview yet? Please let us know how it went! Thinking of you and hoping you're doing well and resisting the smokes.
posted by hazyjane at 10:21 AM on June 27, 2011

Best answer: Pushing through during bad break-ups tends to work for me. I think to myself that I'm going to feel bad no matter what, so I may as well remain constructive by doing things like going to work.

I hope your interview went well!
posted by parakeetdog at 10:41 AM on June 27, 2011

Response by poster: The interview went well and in the fall I'll be adjunct faculty, teaching poetry, short stories, plays.

Next battle is the smokes.

I also have processed the guy thing: He became defensive and hostile and dumped me when I asked him, "So -- why do you never want to spend the night?" This after two months of sex at my place.

So -- yes, better off. I'm better off. And thank you, so much, for all of your advice. Smoking today, will stop tomorrow.

Thank you again.
posted by angrycat at 12:04 PM on June 27, 2011 [4 favorites]

Oh hooray, hooray, hooray for you, angrycat! Congratulations. No doubt you'll have sad days still to come about the man, but how great that you've scored yourself something so cool to look forward to. You rock ;)
posted by penguin pie at 12:55 PM on June 27, 2011

GREAT NEWS! Oh, hon, that's good to hear. Onward and upward - though taking time to process, of course. ;) And you're a better and stronger woman than I am re smoking.
posted by likeso at 1:09 PM on June 27, 2011

I'm going through the same thing with the smoking. You think, "I'm now insane, what does it matter if I smoke?" But you won't be insane (like this, at least) forever, whereas the health effects of smoking will be around a lot longer.

What I do...

1. Reminding myself my first priority is taking care of myself. Smoking is definitely not taking care of myself. I do feel better all around when I don't smoke.
2. I'm in control of myself and my life, I shouldn't let anyone else be. When I smoke to cope with negative feelings, I am letting outside circumstances control me AND ruin my health. So, if this guy is driving you to smoke, ask yourself if he is worth the cancer.

Any rate, hope that helps.
posted by amodelcitizen at 4:08 PM on June 27, 2011

Response by poster: By the by, my interview was at 2 PM and the Dean had assigned almost all the classes to folks. Point being, if I had tried to postpone I wouldn't have got the class I'm teaching.

I think we can chalk this up as a huge askmetafilter hooray!
posted by angrycat at 8:05 PM on June 27, 2011 [4 favorites]

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