How do I start living again while going through a break-up?
October 25, 2015 8:48 PM   Subscribe

The ex and I broke up a little over a month ago. We dated 7 months, and were friends/FWB on and off for 5 years before that since we dated for a month in 2010. A week ago he told me he wants nothing to do with me and I'm heartbroken. I haven't done anything but sleep and watch TV for a week. How do I get out of this slump?

I'm 25 and he's 27. He was still acting loving toward me a week before; two weeks before that he wanted to be with me again in the future. I was ignoring him and he told me it hurt him; long story short I agreed to meet up with him and sleep together. We ended up having a big fight because he'd said I could stay over but changed his mind later.

Then a week ago he sent me this e-mail saying he wants nothing to do with me or anything involving me, doesn't want to hear from me, that we're too different and being around me is too stressful and he doesn't need that in his life.

He said he's tired of me and my problems I can't overcome. The e-mail was more scathing than that but I can't bring myself to re-read it to re-create it accurately.

He said this a few days after finding out I was pregnant. Friends and mutual friends say he is just being immature because of the pregnancy, obviously said those things to hurt me and is running away. But I still feel horrible and heartbroken. Every day I spend doing nothing but watching TV I feel like he is right and that I'm a failure at life. I tried and failed many times to fix my problems in life while we were together and made not much progress our whole relationship. I feel like he is right to have that opinion, because that's all I've shown him.

It hurts that he went from being loving toward me to not caring about me so quickly. I feel so guilty because I feel like that argument caused his change in attitude. He said he wanted nothing to do with me even before he found out I was pregnant. Everyone I have talked to about it knows this and still sides with me. But I still feel horrible. I feel guilty. I feel like it's my fault our child isn't going to have a father.

I prove him right every single day by not working toward any life goals, doing nothing but watching TV and sleeping all day. I've missed several days of work and completely failed class.

But I am so hurt and heartbroken and those are the only things that take the pain away. When I try to do anything that involves thinking I think of him. I still want to be with him. I blame myself for messing everything up. I want to go back to when he wanted me, wanted to see me. i miss him so much. I was more open with him than with any other partner, and it hurts that I tried to let him know me inside and out and he's come out with such a low opinion of me. I've been through several break ups and never felt this heartbroken before. I feel abandoned.

I feel like I should want nothing to do with him for what he said to me. But I still fantasize about seeing him in the future and re-connecting. I don't know what's wrong with me. I thought I would just let time do it's job. But a few friends and family have said they want me to go back to living life, to being happy. They're starting to feel like they've failed because they've tried so hard to be there and I'm still hurting.

I have tried to get out of the house but when it comes time to go out it feels like too much work to shower, get dressed etc. So I cancel and go back to sleep. I went days without doing any hygiene and haven't done clean laundry. My house is a mess. I feel like I fail as a mother every day I let myself live like this. Because I wouldn't want my child to live in these conditions.

Should I be more healed than I am by now? How do I start being productive again?
posted by Autumn to Human Relations (15 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
I'm sorry to hear you're going through such a tough time. Other commenters will be able to say this more eloquently, but it sounds like two things are going on right now.

1. This guy is an asshole. (Assholes aren't like Big Foot. They're real, and they're out there.)
2. You might be dealing with depression. Sleeping and watching TV all day is a classic sign.

posted by jessca84 at 9:18 PM on October 25, 2015 [2 favorites]

Yes, time and space will make this better. But it hasn't been a month since you broke up. It's been a week, and in that week you've had to process the following: the fact that you are pregnant, the fact that your former partner is actually an enormous asshole, and the fact that many of the things you had been envisioning for your future aren't going to turn out the way you had planned. That's a lot of new information in very little time. Cut yourself a break. And tell your friends and family who are trying to make you--a pregnant woman dealing with a newly-discovered enormous asshole ex--feel guilty for not being happy enough for their tastes, that they can go to hell unless they are prepared to be 110% supportive.

The following are people you need in your life right now:
1) A doctor you trust to take care of you and your pregnancy
2) Some sort of therapist or counselor. Your OB might be able to recommend someone
3) A lawyer. Your ex may be such an asshole that he's telling you he doesn't want to hear from you, but he has legal and financial responsibilities to his child, and you want to find out now how you can make sure that he lives up to those responsibilities. But you shouldn't have to contact him on your own when he's being an asshole to you, so get a lawyer who can contact him for you and inform him that he doesn't get to decide that living up to his responsibilities is "too stressful."
4) All of the people in your life who love you and can be actually supportive of you. Not the friends and family who are trying to make it your problem that they're upset at seeing you unhappy. But figure out who are the people in your life who understand the "comfort in, dump out" theory and are going to provide you with unconditional support. Everyone else can go to hell.

You have not done anything wrong. You are not a bad person or a bad mother. You are in a really hard spot right now. And you haven't had much time at all to process what must be a huge trauma, on top of the stress of thinking about your future. Lean on people you can trust. Do not even consider getting back together with your ex, even if he begs, because it's likely that he'd only be asking to get back together if he thinks it'll be cheaper for him than child support. He does not love you, and he has proven that he is neither trustworthy nor a good person. But make sure that your ex knows that while you are broken up for good, once a child was conceived with his DNA, he no longer has a choice about whether to support that child financially. Doctor, therapist, lawyer, friends. And give yourself a break. This is all happening really fast, and you need to take some time to breathe. You are going to be okay. Your baby is going to be okay. Just breathe, and ask for help.
posted by decathecting at 9:22 PM on October 25, 2015 [27 favorites]

I feel like this is too serious for Internet strangers and you need real and tangible support. You need professional crisis support, not well meaning friends and Internet Strangers.

I can't tell if you are pregnant? Are you?

What you describe is deep acute emotional trauma + his reaction to the news of the pregnancy I might call ugly. It... sound unintentionally or intentionally emotionally abusive.

Can you check in to some kind of in-patient program? Maybe someone can take you to the emergency room and get direction from there?

Call a crisis hotline. In my city someone can come to your home and do an evaluation. I don't know if this is available where you are, or if you need to get to an ER - but you need to be someplace under care. ASAP.

Good luck. *hugs*
posted by jbenben at 9:25 PM on October 25, 2015 [6 favorites]

You mention having a class -- does your educational institution have any sort of counseling or medical clinics? Those might be a good place to start for getting in-person help.
posted by jaguar at 9:31 PM on October 25, 2015

I'd take things in this order:

1. start taking prenatal vitamins if you aren't already
2. cut yourself some slack. for example, exhaustion is common in the first trimester
3. call friends to come over and help
4. confirm the pregnancy and start figuring out what you want to do about it
5. [only at this point would it make sense to return to thinking about him]
posted by salvia at 10:04 PM on October 25, 2015 [1 favorite]

1. Call your mom and tell her everything.
2. You don't mention your living situation but I would strongly recommend moving back in with family temporarily. Even if it means quitting your job and moving across the country.
2. You mention failing classes. Can you either finish up what classes you have, or withdraw from them?
3. I'm not sure if you have multiple jobs or a part-time job, but I would recommend (eventually, as your long-term goal) finding a full time 40 hour a week job that gets you out of the house (that has health insurance if at all possible) as soon as possible. It can be anything as long as it's bearable, full-time, and pays $30,000+ a year. (This can wait until after you move home, if that happens.) I honestly would strongly recommend taking a break from school and just finding whatever full-time job you can, given your emotional state and that you're failing a class/classes.
4. Once you have medical insurance (actually, even before you have medical insurance) MAKE AN APPOINTMENT TO SEE A GYNECOLOGIST AND A PSYCHIATRIST. If you are under 26 you can use your parent's.

Please, you have to take care of you. And that starts with reaching out to your mom. You can't rely on him coming back or feeling sorry about how it worked out between you and helping you out emotionally/financially. You don't have time or energy to waste on him. (Living well is the best revenge, anyway.)

You really need to take care of yourself right now. Only after you do that can you spare time to think of him and potentially getting back together or not or processing what happened. Consider it a temporary break in your own mind if it helps you get out of bed. A sabbatical to focus on you and figuring out your next direction/healing yourself right now.
posted by quincunx at 10:52 PM on October 25, 2015 [3 favorites]

If you are in school you should contact the student welfare people and tell them you're having a crisis, and see what support they can give you. For instance can you retake the section that you say you failed without any penalties later? Can you take two weeks off? Also is there any other help available from them. Personally, if you're getting anything at all out of school - and this can include a good group of friends - it's something I would hesitate to drop.

You are going to be absolutely miserable for longer than a week (finding out you're pregnant and your boyfriend is an absconding shit will do that to you) so don't feel useless because you're reacting with grief. Get help, get support, get it on record with a medical report, and seek professional counseling, both emotional and practical, to help you decide what to do next. Don't beat yourself up because you're devastated, because that's a normal, rational reaction to what's just happened to you. But you do need help and support to go forward from here and make the decisions you need to make. Get that support before you make decisions.

And don't be too quick to resume communications with this boyfriend - you should be wary of him from here on out. If you have anything to discuss with him get someone to mediate.
posted by glasseyes at 5:49 AM on October 26, 2015

Yeah, people who send you deliberately hurtful emails aren't the people you want to be available to. You can break up with somebody - a good person, say - without them deliberately trying to damage you. Immature behaviour!
posted by glasseyes at 5:53 AM on October 26, 2015

You likely already know this, but please ignore advice to call your parents if your parents have been abusive or unreliable in the past. I know well-meaning advice to rely on people who should be reliable but are not can make things feel even worse. So think about the support network you do have (friends, professionals), and how you can best use if right now.
posted by jaguar at 6:14 AM on October 26, 2015

I am going to respond to one teensy-tiny part and leave the big stuff to other folks who have better advice, but:

I feel like I fail as a mother every day I let myself live like this. Because I wouldn't want my child to live in these conditions.

Even if "these conditions" were really terrible, your child is not living among the laundry. Your child is living in first-class super-amazing accommodations in your belly, where it's warm and comfortable and everything he/she could possibly need is delivered through a magical tube. You do not need to be cleaning your house as if there were another person there any more than you need to be checking out the quality of the local public high school at this point.
posted by cogitron at 6:34 AM on October 26, 2015 [4 favorites]

Response by poster: Hey everyone, thanks for the advice and help so far. I just wanted to clarify a few things:

My Mom already knows. We are not that close though so I don't really go in depth to her about how I'm feeling. My school is online so unfortunately it's not really a support network for me. We only have one class per month. I do have an old therapist I'm going to call as soon as I don't sleep in past the time to call every day.

The initial doctors appointments and pre-natal stuff for the pregnancy has been taken care of. Thank you again and thanks in advance for any advice. :)
posted by Autumn at 6:40 AM on October 26, 2015

Take your iron rich meal or pre natal vitamin at noon wolith orange juice to help with iron absorption. Milk tea and eggs limit iron absorption, this is in the gut where your body will absorb the calcium and let the iron go by. Make at least an hour separation between the iron rich meal and calcium rich food.

Anemia related to pregnancy can act like all of the above and come on quickly. Best of luck to you. I used to get paid to dispense this information on the maternity unit of a great hospital. This was for post delivery moms. Using this info made my second pregnancy much better.

The emotional stuff would be a crapshoot with even a perfect relationship.
posted by Oyéah at 10:37 AM on October 26, 2015

Just wanted to add, because I haven't seen it emphasised enough -- exhaustion is absolutely normal in the first trimester. And by exhaustion, I mean soul-killing, would-sleep-all-day-every-day, I've-never-been-this-tired levels of exhaustion. Both times I was pregnant I had none of your other issues going on, and still I would have slept most of the day if I'd been able to.

So please don't infer anything about how good of a mother you'll be from the fact that all you want to do right now is sleep and watch TV. Even if you weren't also dealing with your shit of a boyfriend abandoning you, you'd probably feel that way. It's biological, it's not your fault, and it means absolutely nothing about how good of a mom you are. I'd say that the very fact that amongst all of this you're so concerned about your unborn child means you'll probably be a pretty good one, especially if you can find some support along the way.
posted by forza at 2:31 PM on October 26, 2015

I feel like it's my fault our child isn't going to have a father.

Absolutely not. Even if you guys are not together, it is his choice and responsibility to be a father. There are many, many, many children whose parents are not married but still have their fathers in their lives, no matter what the relationship with the mother is like. If he chooses not to act like a father, that is entirely on him.
posted by lunasol at 4:38 PM on October 26, 2015

Every day I spend doing nothing but watching TV I feel like he is right and that I'm a failure at life. I tried and failed many times to fix my problems in life while we were together and made not much progress our whole relationship. I feel like he is right to have that opinion, because that's all I've shown him.

I prove him right every single day by not working toward any life goals, doing nothing but watching TV and sleeping all day. I've missed several days of work and completely failed class. But I am so hurt and heartbroken and those are the only things that take the pain away.

Please allow me to give you the credit that you are not yet able to give to yourself. It’s clear to me from your post that being a good mother and doing right by your child are included in your life’s goals. It might feel that watching TV and sleeping all day are antithetical to your goals, but you are taking care of your physical and emotional needs as best you can today.

Six years ago I was in a situation that sounds a bit similar to yours: I was in an on-again-off-again “friends” with benefits situation which resulted in the conception of our son. My son’s father made clear that he didn’t want anything to do with me, and I felt heartbroken and devastated. The first half of my pregnancy was especially difficult. I spent a lot of time sleeping and watching TV and on many days I struggled to be productive.

Communicating (in writing) early on to my employer and professors that I was pregnant took a huge weight off of my shoulders. Therapy was (and continues to be) invaluable.

At the risk of projecting my own personal situation on to yours, it might helpful for you to consider that your relationship with this man may have contributed to your inability to fix some of the problems in your life. If you previously believed that you were a failure, having a partner who believes the same about you only reinforces this belief.

You ask if you “should” be healed by now and I have two answers:

1. Of course not! Parts of you may be able to heal in some ways during your pregnancy, but you will likely discover that new-but-related pains are still to come (both physical and emotional). Fear not! These painful experiences can provide huge opportunities for growth.

2. This type of “should” question can impede the healing process. You are where you are, today, and berating yourself for not being elsewhere only reinforces the negative self-talk. It can prevent you from getting closer to your goals.

Lastly, you mention concerns about your physical living conditions and your house being a mess. So long as you’re not stewing in cat shit, then you’re probably doing just fine. It may help for you to read up on the nesting instinct, which many expecting moms experience during the final trimester of pregnancy. Point being, you have plenty of time to organize your space. Second point being, allow yourself to trust where your body is at today.
posted by TheCavorter at 8:36 AM on October 28, 2015

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