the lonely puzzle piece
February 25, 2007 10:33 PM   Subscribe

I feel like I am fading away into nothingness.

I am 23 and I live in the Rocky Mountains.

In September of 2006, I left the only man I ever loved in my entire life. We met early in the Spring, had an idyllic but troubled summer romance. I have never felt more alive or whole in my life.

If he were in a car accident tomorrow and lost all of his limbs and became retarded, I would still want to love and be with him forever.

He is 30 and dark and handsome and beautiful, and was prone to sending me flowers at constantly. I love him wholly and with every single part of me. We worked at a snowboard shop together.

Trust me when I say that at the time I felt had no choice but to leave him. I found out he charming random girls who came into the snowboard shop for oral favors. He also became emotionally distant and just plain mean sometimes.

He tried to get me back after I left. Being in his presence literally makes me physically weak with love. So when I left him I packed up a bag and moved in with my girls for awhile. According to my old roomates, he came over every night for me for several days and begged to know where I was.

He moved on.

I got a new job as a paralegal. I should mention I'm a ballerina. I work and do ballet.

EVer since I've left him I am so alone. I have friends, but he was a soulmate and a lover. I am certain that the connection I felt to him and the love I still feel for him will be the most intense/defining emotion of my life.

I am so depressed every day. I make a good wage at my job, but I am only allowed to work 25 hours a week. Between rent/utilities/ballet tuition, I am always broke. Ballet is the only thing i have left in my life, I don't want to quit.

I'm just sad all the time about him but I don't have money to go see a shrink and I'm not in college so no free counseling. I'm already kind of skinny but I am losing more weight. It's hard to eat when I miss him so much. I walk everywhere because I don't have a car. Sometimes I wonder if I will just dissapear like a wisp of threadbare fabric.

I've already dumped on my friends (emotionally) so much that I can't really bug them anymore.

I feel like a lonely puzzle piece that was unsnapped from its mate. He was my other puzzle piece.

Now that I'm at the end of this, I don't even know what I could possibly ask strangers for. Thanks for reading this. ANything you can say to me I appreciate.
posted by skjønn to Human Relations (55 answers total) 13 users marked this as a favorite
Here's the answer to your cry for help:

seek therapy.

Here's the response to the obvious response that will follow:

No, therapy is not always the answer, and I know it's a common AskMe response. However, it's pretty appropriate here.

Find a therapist. It will help. Feel better. Good luck.
posted by twiggy at 10:43 PM on February 25, 2007

See a therapist, tout de suite.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 10:46 PM on February 25, 2007

These are going to sound trite and somwhate cliche, but they're also statements that are true.

- You are not alone. This type of heartbreak happens every day. It's not fair, it's not fun, but it's part of the human condition.

- With time, this will heal. That doesn't make it easier right now, but the pain will fade away. Look around on the street - almost every one of those people have lost a love at some point, and they made it through the other side and regained a normal life. You can do it too.

So until that happens, throw yourself into whatever it is you do. Work long hours, dance your heart out, and keep busy with any friends or aquaintances you do have.

Loss of appetite often comes with depression. Until you recover, take special note of your habits. Eat something, even if you aren't that hungry.

Good luck.
posted by chrisamiller at 10:46 PM on February 25, 2007 [2 favorites]

In addition to therapy, is there some way you could share your knowledge of ballet with others? I know its a pretty minor part of your story, but I think it may help you move on.
posted by ALongDecember at 10:49 PM on February 25, 2007

I too recently broke up with someone that I believed was my soulmate. It broke my heart to do it and I was in love, but I realized we simply were not compatible unless all these wandering pieces were in place. I'm 27, you are 23. I am a man, but did dance in high school and sometimes wish I could have the time and moment to get back in shape to go back to dance. I can even still do all the positions. Look, you broke up with someone who was cheating on you - even if it was just emotionally - and you're better not to have that person in your life.
I remember when I broke up with my ex, as it was just a few months ago. I felt like I was disappointing everyone by doing it; that I could never do my job; that I wanted to get away from everything. Then, I woke up to the fact I was better for it.
Keep up ballet. I did not because I always felt bad for how people saw a guy who liked that wonderful, fluid movement. Now, almost ten years later, all I want to do is go back to a physical and emotional place where I could. You are 23, you are probably an amazing dancer and think how much time you now have to break free from your regret and find the company that will take you out of the mountains and onto the stage with peers who will appreciate and love you without looking over their shoulders for the next thing down the road. Stay strong, fight for your dream. You will win.
posted by parmanparman at 10:53 PM on February 25, 2007

Twenty-three is really really young. Trust me.

I endured the worst and hardest break-up of my life at 22. It was totally out of the blue and damn near killed me. I suffered the worst depression I've ever been through, struggled to survive financially (because nothing seemed worth anything after he left, not even working), moved in with my mother and lost all contact with the outside world. I lived in a small-ish town where everyone who knew me also knew him, and I couldn't take the risk of running into him within our social circle because I knew I'd have a public meltdown.

Finally, I dropped everything and moved to Houston on a whim. I had $500 in the bank, no job, no place to live, nothing. I just wanted to get as far away from him and my memories as possible. A few months after moving, I started to date a bit. I went out with several assholes, and convinced myself that I would never find another guy like the one who broke my heart. I was going to be single forever.

Then I met someone through a group of mutual friends. I liked him but wasn't willing to get very close. Sometimes you just can't plan that shit, though. Within a few more months I knew I was done for — I was in love again. We are now married, and I'm experience a new level of satisfaction and happiness in life when I wasn't even looking for it. I've never wanted to get married to anyone, not even the first guy, but with my husband, I new for sure. Four years ago, in the midst of that depression, I could never imagine my life as it is now. And they all lived happily ever after, blah, blah blah.

My point is that heartbreaks are like hangovers — the only cure is time. Luckily, you're young, so you have time in spades. Therapy might help with the depression, but believe me, you will get over him.
posted by Brittanie at 11:01 PM on February 25, 2007 [1 favorite]

I am certain that the connection I felt to him and the love I still feel for him will be the most intense/defining emotion of my life.

So let's get this straight: by chance, in the middle of the Rocky Mountains, working at the same snowboard shop as you, was the only one of 6.6 billion humans who you will ever connect with?

Ten years from now, when you've settled for some lesser man and have your first child, you will look at it in your arms and say "Childbirth was nice and all, but in truth this guy I had a fling with seven years ago is still more important to me than you will ever be."?


For what it's worth, I was deeply, passionately, and eternally in love at 23 too. I even asked her to marry me, but she said no. Fifteen years later I'm good friends with her and her husband, babysit their kids regularly, and am very happy with the way things have worked out.

You needn't be so black and white about your relationship with this man. If he isn't suitable mate material (and it sounds like he's not) that leaves plenty of room for friendship, either with or without fringe benefits.
posted by tkolar at 11:03 PM on February 25, 2007 [2 favorites]

Never date someone you meet at a rental shop. I'm just sayin'

I am certain that the connection I felt to him and the love I still feel for him will be the most intense/defining emotion of my life.

You knew the guy for what six months? And he couldn't even stop letting random girls blow him for that long? Honey, get real. You can go and get therapy if you want but personally I think that's only prolonging the drama. It didn't work out, right now it hurts but evantually you won't care anymore. Trust me. You're only 23, you have lots more fabulous affairs in your future, better not to waste time over this one.

And go get tested. Waiting on the results is pretty much guaranteed to cure you of any lingering romantic notions about soulmates and pining away.
posted by fshgrl at 11:04 PM on February 25, 2007 [4 favorites]

Is this the same guy who was draining your life from you back in August?

Look, I'm not trying to be mean but it will probably come off that way (FWIW, I say this to you the same way I'd say it to a sister): try to view the things that happen in your life with a little less drama and a little more detachment.
posted by jamaro at 11:13 PM on February 25, 2007

You know what caring strangers can give you that friends might not feel able to?

Brutal honesty.

I feel like a lonely puzzle piece that was unsnapped from its mate. He was my other puzzle piece.

Bzzzzzt. Wrong answer. Knock it off with the Wuthering Heights drama queen shit.

You thought he was your other puzzle piece before you found out about all those oral favours. Turns out you were way more into him than he was into you. That's no basis for a healthy relationship.

Find yourself a guy who actually does want to be with you as much as you want to be with him.

You thought you'd experienced intense? You ain't felt nothin' yet.

And you'll know you've grown up a bit when you can feel real intensity and still be completely you.
posted by flabdablet at 11:26 PM on February 25, 2007 [7 favorites]

I have to agree. If your soul mate was getting blown by random snowboarders, well, you need to find a better soul mate.
posted by Mr. President Dr. Steve Elvis America at 11:40 PM on February 25, 2007 [8 favorites]

Most of us have been there, in some way or another. I'm not minimizing your pain, I'm just saying that it's part of the human condition. They write a lot of songs about it, right? When it happened to me, I couldn't eat, I couldn't sleep, I wished my heart would just stop. It actually felt like it had broken. It took a long, long time to feel better.

You did the right thing, but you know that. Keep working on making yourself a fulfilling life, and the pain will pass. It will have taught you greater empathy and compassion and will strengthen your ability to feel love and joy when it comes to you again. It will add to who you are as a human being, and someday the right person, the best person, will love you for who you will have become.

Dear heart, I promise you, this is what will happen.
posted by puddinghead at 11:46 PM on February 25, 2007 [1 favorite]

If it helps, skjønn, many people find that by the time they hit about 30 they wish they could slap around their 20ish selves for being such dramatic putzes. Men and women. Seriously, you're really young and you didn't know this guy for very long. He wasn't your soul-mate, he was a coworker you had tons of chemistry with... but who couldn't keep his pants zipped.

It'll pass as long as you don't sit around stewing about it.
posted by Justinian at 11:48 PM on February 25, 2007

Well, I'm sorry some of the tough love assholes here forgot what it is like to be young when they started drinking blood, but I'll point out the obvious which is that you are dealing with three related but distinct problems.

Number one is that you had a bad breakup, and nothing will help this except time and eventually someone more worthy of your love. The only thing you really need to be a stickler about is to remember, any time you briefly suffer the thought that not taking him back was a mistake or trying to get back with him a solution, be very clear on this: he would just have done the same thing again.

Number two is that you are suffering what sounds like a period of serious depression. I don't know if you absolutely need therapy or not, I went through shit like that at your age (well, nobody ever did me bad quite like that) and just soldiered through, it was when I found the one who turned out to be The One that I realized I had to go to therapy so I wouldn't lose her. If you want to try some therapy start googling around your town plus community clinic, sliding scale, free clinic. You will find options. One thing a therapist can be really nice for is talking over and over things that your friends are sick of and you really ought to be over already.

Number three is your lifestyle is probably not sustainable from the sounds of it, I mean, you don't make enough money. The only ready solution is probably more day job hours. New job or renegotiate the one you've got. Unless there is extra money somewhere in ballet, I don't know anything about that world.

Hang in there, kid.
posted by nanojath at 11:59 PM on February 25, 2007

Skjonn, you say that you don't have the money to see a shrink. The problem is that you very much need to.

If you are skinny yet have lost your appetite so much that you are losing weight, that process may become life-threatening to you. That's entirely separate from the issue of taking your own life, which I very much hope that you are not seriously considering.

Put it this way: if you had hurt yourself *very* badly but didn't have health insurance, you'd still go to the hospital.

Well, your soul is hurting very badly right now. People here are going to try to make you feel better, and I hope they do. But a professional needs to be physically present there with you, and help you grieve your loss and move on with your life.

Many, many, many, many psychologists have "sliding scales," which means that they lower their rates based on the income of the person coming to them for help. Don't automatically assume you can't afford them. You need one right now, just like you would need a surgeon if something was injured.

I also just want to say this: there was a girl in my past. I was as broken up over her as you are broken up over this man. I was very certain that I would never meet anyone as special as her, and I held her sacrosanct in my mind; she was a wonderful hippie free spirit.

Years and years have passed since I saw her last, since things ended badly. The severe daily emotional pain healed over quickly, although when I would think of her, it would be like poking a very bad spot. And time passed, and I lived my life, and I met other women. And occasionally, I'd pull the memory of her out and realize one or two things, and I'd put the memory away together with the new realizations.

And now, it's many years from the day I last saw her, and I realize that she wasn't a nice person, and she wasn't anything like the idealized version of her that I had in my mind when pain was fresh and new. But I'm so very glad I did what I did back then, and ended things the way I did.

You are going to heal, skjonn. There will be a day when your soul will have healed and you will be happy once more, when the worries that are making you feel so very awful now are nothing but unpleasant memories in the farther archives of your mind.

That's hard to believe, I know. But you need to take that as a statement of faith. And you need to just hang in there, and know that a lot of strangers who have never met you are empathizing in pain, and that a lot of us have gone through similar experiences, and we're rooting for you.

posted by WCityMike at 12:13 AM on February 26, 2007 [2 favorites]

You are in a position now to either recover or become addicted to the pain that you are feeling now. My first love left me completely and utterly emotionally destroyed. It took me a very, very long time to recover and I lost a lot of friends in the process. Its easy to identify with that pain and become that pain instead of becoming the person who gets over that pain.

I wasn't in a position to seek therapy either since my parents were supporting me financially and I didn't want them to know about it.

I know this sounds like it could never help, but keeping a diary really does help you release your feelings. You will feel infinitly better once you get everything out on paper and will always have it as a reference to look back on to better understand your feelings.

It's also important to go out with friends no matter how terrible you feel. Forcing yourself out of the house can seem like a huge hurdle but it will help you forget how you feel and create new, happier memories.

Also- no matter what your friends say, it is never time to "just be over it." It will take as long as it takes, and you might always feel a little bit of pain when you think of him. Your life will get better though, that I can promise.
posted by thebrokenmuse at 12:22 AM on February 26, 2007 [1 favorite]

Your feelings for this guy -- I would reframe it as a mistake and something to learn from. If you think that is love, then you don't yet know what love is, in my no longer humble opinion as someone who did not believe in love at all for four decades. Love is much more than this. It's not some drama that hurts you. That is romance and infatuation. Best thing is to get love and butter it up with some fun romance and infatuation. Much healthier that way than pure butter, so to speak, which will just make you sick, as it has done. You are fading into nothingness because your self depends on him, i.e. there is nothing left because you gave it away.
posted by Listener at 1:33 AM on February 26, 2007 [1 favorite]

Sorry, that bit about my past skepticism was irrelevant and probably came off snarky. Please forgive me and let me add that despite my skepticism, I was still subject to infatuation foolishness, and I do know that it is possible to evict these foolish thoughts from one's mind and gain strength in doing so.
posted by Listener at 1:47 AM on February 26, 2007

The Rocky Mountains is a lot of area. If you were more specific about your location, people could probably find some help for you. Because you need help.

Mention to your friends that you need some help and see if they can find you cheap or free counseling. Some of your past posts mention that you were a student, so there's got to be a college around. Go there and ask for help.

Ask your friends for help in keeping you distracted or occupied. Keeping doing ballet but seek help.

Good luck and remember that people have overcome this before and you can also.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 2:40 AM on February 26, 2007

Write a list of things you planned to do before age 30 and start doing them. The other thing I did in your shoes was to make a list of characteristics that a mate of mine should have, and add to it with each new and interesting dating experience. You would have been fascinated with the gentlement who cause me to add things like: good teeth, no obsessions, should be an orphan. Dating from now for the next 5 years is not about finding that soul mate, but discovering who you are and what you like in a partner. These guys are meant to be temporary.

Or otherwise, time honoured - eat lots of chocolate and ice cream and watch romantic comedies and foreign films. This too shall pass. Remember, time wounds all heels.
posted by b33j at 2:51 AM on February 26, 2007 [1 favorite]

oh and btw, love gets much more interesting after 30. You think you've had the most intense relationship you will ever have? Just wait.
posted by b33j at 2:52 AM on February 26, 2007 [1 favorite]

One can always afford therapy. Local clinics offer sliding fee scales, local shrinks will often strike a deal with you. I would investigate this further. Best of luck.

p.s. It will get better. It just takes time. Cold comfort, I know.
posted by sneakin at 4:27 AM on February 26, 2007

Just want to put a meh on all the suggestions to go see a therapist. You can gain a lot of the lifelong benefits of a very good therapy by simply reading and practicing David Burns' Feeling Good Handbook.

Most therapists are hired friends. They will make you talk about what is bugging you, look at you with empathy, take notes and say some generic crap before they forget all about it when the 45 minutes are up. I believe you don't need to talk any further about that story, you need to focus on the here and now. Go in front of the mirror, and smile for a minute. Do it.
posted by jchgf at 5:12 AM on February 26, 2007

skjonn, if you are anywhere near the Banff Centre (as I imagine that you might be studying ballet there), this service is available. It is free, and confidential. They work with artists, but you can approach them with a non-artist issue. And it will get better. It takes a lot of discipline and strength to be a ballerina, so I already know that you have it in you. Good luck.
posted by typewriter at 5:34 AM on February 26, 2007

Since you are very upset, it is hard to apply logic to a situation, so I'll help out.

He was not your soulmate, because there is no such thing as a single soulmate. Hear me out for a second. You are saying that you managed to meet the one person in the entire world that completed you at a snowboard rental shop? That would be incredibly lucky of you. However, this ass was getting blow jobs from other broads on the slope, which means you are very unlucky. Plus, if this guy was your soulmate, would he really be getting blowjobs from strangers?

A more likely situation is that every person has a large set of people that will "complete" them that is based on certain attributes. You just happened to pick the bad one out of the bunch. Consider it a learning experience and do better next time.
posted by Loto at 5:51 AM on February 26, 2007

The other thing is, you deserve congrats for getting away from the guy and making that decisive break. A lot of people might not have done it. I had a terrible relationship that just went on and on because I didn't have the guts to get out. I wish I'd had as much sense back then as you've shown at your age...I think you know you did the right thing. The healing is happening already, it just doesn't feel like it yet ;-)
posted by frosty_hut at 6:06 AM on February 26, 2007

I agree with frosty_hut that getting yourself out of that relationship with huge step -- an important and very healthy decision that you should be proud of.

Honestly, it sounds like you are suffering from depression, which is entrely normal after an experience like you're described. There are low cost options. Check women's centers in your area; colleges and hospitals often have community clinics that offer counseling. Call your doctor and ask for tips. There are options available -- hunt them down and take control of your mental health in the same way that you took control of your romantic life and emotional health.

Finally, remember that how you act influences how you feel. Fake it and act happy -- or at least like nothing is wrong. By act, I mean force yoruself to see people, do things you've loved, exercise. Very often faking it becomes real. Good luck
posted by anondonna at 6:28 AM on February 26, 2007

I really think romantic infatuation is some form of mental illness. I went through something very similar three years ago and it damn near killed me. My soulmate, my other half, my kindred spirit, The One...she didn't want to be with me anymore. And it took two years to get over it. Now I realise she was a flaky, selfish, borderline alcoholic who I had somehow raised up onto a pedestal throught the haze of l.o.v.e. I'm now with an incredibly funny, beautiful and loving woman whose I see in very realistic terms BUT still makes me very happy. Stay clear of the drama and true to yourself and you'll get past this.

Paul McKenna's "How to mend a broken heart" is also an excellent way to get your head around what's going on right now.
posted by brautigan at 6:32 AM on February 26, 2007 [1 favorite]

First, let me congratulate you for being strong enough to leave him and to not go back-even though you are experiencing these strong emotions. You need to be proud of yourself for being able to do that!

Second, (please hear me out) maybe there are clergypersons out there you could have a chat with? It would be free, and these folks have a lot of experience with the human condition, not to mention may be able to refer you to help you can afford.

Third, get out in the sunshine as much as you can.

Fourth, get rid of any memorabilia of his that you have, don't listen to music that reminds you of him, etc. You get the idea.

Fifth, this is grieving, and grieving lasts as long as it lasts. It is a chemical thing.

Sixth, treat food as medicine. Eat whether you want to or not. Carbohydrates are mood elevators, btw.

Finally, realize that depression really is anger turned inward. Allow yourself to be angry that this man turned out to be such a cad instead of your knight in shining armor. He was not worthy of your love.
posted by konolia at 6:54 AM on February 26, 2007 [1 favorite]

A little off topic, but MAN I wish AskMe was around when I was in my 20's!!
posted by matty at 7:12 AM on February 26, 2007

jchgf writes "Most therapists are hired friends. They will make you talk about what is bugging you, look at you with empathy, take notes and say some generic crap before they forget all about it when the 45 minutes are up."

This is completely untrue. Years of research are quite clear: people who get therapy when in mental distress do much better than people who want therapy but do not get it. (The effect size is ~.80) All types of legitimate therapy work about as well as all other types. (Only about 1% of variation in outcome can be assigned to type of therapy engaged in.) Therapy is a good, directed, relatively quick way to address problems like those you are describing. The Feel Good Handbook may also be good for what ails you, although I know of no studies which confirm that.
posted by OmieWise at 7:51 AM on February 26, 2007 [1 favorite]

For all the time we spend teaching kids about geography and arithmetic, we neglect some pretty important lessons, one of which is this: When you're young and in love, you will believe it was "meant to be." You will be absolutely convinced that you're the only person in the world's history ever to have felt those feelings. And when that love falls apart, you will feel devastated — and absolutely convinced that this is your own special circumstance.

This is not your own special circumstance. It is, as a playwright said, the history of the world.

As for the rest? Yes, life will get better. You will probably meet someone else. Your perspective will certainly change with experience and maturity. In your post, you seem to describe 23 years as a lifetime; you may change your mind and come to view it as a childhood. First heartbreak is like chicken pox: Better to suffer it when you're young and resilient.

But right now, you don't feel resilient. You feel alone and the most important point is that this is not your own special circumstance. Most of the people walking past your window have felt what you're feeling at some point in their lives. We all picked up and moved on, to varying degrees of success. The world breaks everyone.
posted by cribcage at 8:50 AM on February 26, 2007 [4 favorites]

konolia has great advice. Particularly this piece:

Sixth, treat food as medicine. Eat whether you want to or not.

You need to eat; starving will only make you feel worse. So eat whatever you can- if all you can stomach is ice cream and potato chips, eat them 24/7. You are in crisis mode; you need fuel, any fuel, to keep yourself up and running. Don't neglect this.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 9:03 AM on February 26, 2007 [1 favorite]

I don't think you need to talk to anyone about your problem. You know what it is.

I also don't think you need anyone to help you through this, if you can do ballet then you've got the discipline you need.

I think you need to decide to move on. You are thinking in the past.

I think you need to make some goals and suffer for them, just like you did when you learned ballet.

Approach your physical health and mental focus like ballet practice. Sketch out a program, and fight through it.

There are always lots of details we can pile on, but basically, you need an eating program, and exercise program, and a mental focus on here-now program.

You have all the skills you need to survive and succeed. There's more to life than love, just like there's more to ballet than those hot little outfits. Focus on your program.
posted by ewkpates at 9:17 AM on February 26, 2007

I agree with pretty much everyone here upon preview. Recognize that you're young, and this is the first time anyone's broken your heart. There's a first time for everything, and it means that you'll be that much wiser the next time around.

On the other hand, it *does* sound like you have some other issues in your life to work out. Money, and what you really want to do, and if you're really pursuing it to your heart's content. Do you have anything else tying you to your region? Could you move to someplace where you can live your whole life doing ballet (teaching it, performing it, studying it)? And, dare I ask, someplace with good, low-cost, accessible therapy? I'm thinking some urban areas here. Is there something other than being a paralegal you'd like as your day job?

While upheaval might not be your bag here, I'm just saying that you're young, and you've got a million directions you can go. Start taking a long, hard, dramatic look at them. Maybe it's time for a change of scenery.

Oh, and (your own personal and professional) success really is the best revenge here.
posted by universal_qlc at 9:33 AM on February 26, 2007

I agree with ALongDecember -- right now I think you should be concentrating on something you love & have a passion for, and that sounds like ballet. Ballet is something completely separate from this guy, so focusing on it won't necessarily remind you of him, and you love it. Maybe you can start teaching ballet? If you can get a paid position, it might help solve some of your money woes -- but if it's just volunteering that's okay too. The key is to find something that can distract you -- brooding is your enemy, as it only makes things seem much worse than they actually are.

Also, keep a time frame in mind here -- you've only been broken up with him for five months. That's not an inordinate amount of time to get over your first big love, I don't think. Keep aware of your situation -- if you still feel horrible in a few months, or after you think you should be over him, go see a therapist -- there might be some bigger issues that you need to work through.
posted by lilac girl at 10:11 AM on February 26, 2007

Regarding the immediate problem of not eating, your ballet troupe probably has lots of experience with eating disorders and can probably refer you to someone who works with dancers who don’t eat enough to be healthy. What ails you may not be an eating disorder, but not eating is a problem no matter what the origin.

Life will get better. I’ve been there too. (What helped me, besides time and having good new experiences to replace the bad old ones in my mind: compulsively rereading Macho Sluts, a collection of S/M porn stories by Pat Califia. That’s a pretty idiosyncratic choice given that I’m decidedly vanilla, but it really did help me. I don’t expect it will help you, but you can find something that gives you comfort and helps make sense of the world. Even if it seems strange on the surface of it.)
posted by kika at 10:38 AM on February 26, 2007

i'm kind of surprised that this hasn't come up, but something that occurs to me is to start dating again. i know that some people can rush this, but if you have been apart longer than you were together it seems reasonable to consider, and i think it's the best cure for feeling that this person was the one and only person you could be romantically interested in. it sounds like you're the sort of person who places a high value on romantic relationships. i'm the same way, and when i had a terrible breakup at around your age, the thing that finally shook the last of my depression after about a year was asking out a friend and getting a little silly over someone i knew wasn't a serious match for me, just as practice or a mental health activity. i didn't think i would fall in love with him, but i wanted to explore the possibility that i could still be attracted to and interested in people in various ways. (and i could. and then, by accident, i did fall in love and we've been together happily for years.) if you decide to try this, be really upfront about where you're at, and try to just have fun with it and not expect too much. but at the same time know that you are being proactive, and if there is someone out there for you you are bringing yourself that much closer to finding them by trying and practicing.

also, of course, try to work on your personal issues so that if that person comes along you will be ready and not take out your unresolved problems from this relationship on the new one. but it actually sounds to me like you're doing pretty ok with that, by staying involved in your art and so on.
posted by lgyre at 10:50 AM on February 26, 2007

I cannot say I know what it's like to lose "love." I'm 20 years old with not even one relationship under my belt. Though it's not uncommon for me to feel bouts of loneliness, I'm content to be single. Why? Because I can focus on myself. I can put everything towards chasing my dreams.

You're young and perhaps you should focus on yourself. Especially now that you're in a bad way.

I wish people wouldn't think of others as "pieces" that fit to make them complete. You are a WHOLE person. Just you. You don't need anyone to be complete and worthwhile.

Love is wonderful, I'm sure. Who wouldn't want that? And you'll find it again with someone much better.
posted by VegaValmont at 11:28 AM on February 26, 2007

In addition to what everyone else has said, let me just echo one of konolia's points. Please, sweetheart, eat.
posted by tr33hggr at 12:48 PM on February 26, 2007

Sleep is good, too. Do that as well.
posted by flabdablet at 1:25 PM on February 26, 2007

A 30 year old man who gets blowjobs from ramdom chicks at the snowboard rental shop where he and his girlfriend work is not anybody's soulmate.

Trust me on this.
posted by oneirodynia at 2:00 PM on February 26, 2007

Omiewise rebuked my comment, and I take back what I wrote.

My comment was meant to reflect my own personal experience with 5 psychotherapists I have seen in earlier years. Most long-term benefits I have gained from these experiences were culled from David Burns's book itself. I do not feel the process with the psychotherapists was successful in itself, but the overall process in which they took place was, so perhaps I don't give them enough credit.

My situation was different than skjønn's, and perhaps it's better to try out a therapist and give it a shot than not.

I do reiterate my advice of living in the here and now, and the however-silly exercise of smiling in the mirror for a minute.
posted by jchgf at 2:14 PM on February 26, 2007

When I was 23, I didn't have very good judgement about relationships. It's possible that the same is true for you. I am no expert, but I do know that a guy who gets random hummers from the snow bunnies who wander into the shop is not actually the guy who's going to be the love of your life.
posted by anildash at 2:34 PM on February 26, 2007

It's obvious that your feelings have distorted your capacity for rational thought about this man. Your question contains statements that directly contradict other parts of the question.

For example, you said, "I love him wholly ..."

But surely (as many other commenters have said) you don't love the unfaithful, sleazy part of him that sneaks around slipping his penis into the mouths of other women while he's dating you.

And do you love the part of him that was "distant and mean" to you?

I think what's going on here is that there are some things you love about him. He's charming and charismatic. He's older and sophisticated. He's dark and handsome. We all know the type. But you don't really love him wholly.

To those of us seeing him without the gauze of romantic obsession clouding our view ... he's an asshole, he's a dime-a-dozen, he's one of those people who manages to be charming and sexy and intoxicating but have no character, and are ultimately poisonous to the people they get romantically involved with. People like this go through life, capitalizing on the charm and good looks that result in easy blow-jobs, but devastating people who trusted them (like you) and making them hurt.

It may be hard to realize this, but leaving that vile man is the best thing you could ever have done for yourself. Congratulations on having the strength to do it. View your feelings right now (your persistent longing for him) as just a sickness that will inevitably pass, because it will.
posted by jayder at 3:03 PM on February 26, 2007 [1 favorite]

I'm there right now - different gender, but same position, same thoughts, same loss of human contact, same everything. So much of the time it feels like it's never going to get better. I've started running, training for a half marathon, treating food and exercise like medicine.

It take such effort to let people know that things aren't alright, and finding new people who replace what you lost in a relationship. For me, my former SO got so frustrated that I wasn't getting better she started to blame me. Or at least, it felt that way. Being like this is being stuck in your own fog of depression and regret - it begets its own reality distortion field.

Email me if you'd like commiseration - see my profile page. We're all with you here.
posted by awenner at 3:27 PM on February 26, 2007 [1 favorite]

Oh, gods, I was right where you are a year ago, except I didn't have the balls to break up with him then (and it was a slightly different relationship situation). I did the long excruciating AskMe post. I said some very rude things to some Mefites. I broke up with him six months and 3000 miles later, and then I cried for days and days.

It gets better. I promise. It does. Good on you for respecting yourself enough to break up with him. Dittoing everyone else who said that a guy who takes blowjobs from random girls is nobody's soulmate.

You deserve better. Every morning, wake up and tell yourself this. You deserve someone who loves you more than that. And you'll find him. You will. It might take a while, or another few broken hearts, but you'll get there.

But this is important--stop looking for someone to complete you. The only one who can do that is you. You are complete. You are whole and beautiful, and right now you are chipped and bruised and bleeding and god, it hurts, and everyone here knows it, but you don't need someone to patch you up; you need to heal yourself.

A therapist might be able to help. I don't go in for that, really, but it works for many people.

But what might help a lot--you are a ballerina. Dance it all out. Get some studio time and lock yourself away in there. Dance out all the pain, dance out all the betrayal, dance out the love and loss and hurt. Watch how beautiful you are when you dance, and love that beauty. Love yourself. And at the end of every session, put on whatever music takes you to the warmest happiest place in your head and dance out your love for YOU, not for anybody else, but for YOU.

You deserve better. Love yourself enough to believe that. Everything else will follow. We're rooting for you.
posted by fuzzbean at 6:55 PM on February 26, 2007 [2 favorites]

I was in your place about 25 years ago. I was 19, he was 29. Met the man of my dreams! Loved him with ever fiber of my being. Would feel physically sick (wouldn't eat, etc) if I couldn't be with him. I chased him for years, he would throw me just enough crumbs to keep me hoping for more. I had a baby with him, no he was not happy about that. He also cheated on me.

Try reading this book, "Obsessive Love: When It Hurts Too Much to Let Go" by Susan Forward and Craig Buck. I checked my copy out from the local library.

This book really opened my eyes and helped me handle this, on again off again at his convience relationship. I did move on to better and healither relationships.

It wasn't until our son turned 19, the age I was when I met his father. I looked at his father and said, "I was just a baby when you met me, you should be ashamed of yourself, matter of fact, you should have been put in jail for the totally coruption of my innocence."

Please email me if you need to talk, for what its worth, I studied ballet until my early twenties.
posted by JujuB at 9:30 PM on February 26, 2007

Response by poster: Every reply so far has meant a lot to me. The overriding note in my constant sadness seems to be loneliness, and reading all of what all of you have wrote has made me feel less lonely, if only for a little bit.

As for eating, I've been forcing myself to at least drink multivitamin protein shakes. Part of it is no doubt acting out my desire to literally just dissapear. In a twisted way, I think I find grim satisfaction in the way I've gone from pudgy slim to gaunt; tanned to pale; healthy female to something ethereal and childlike looking.

I'm wretched and I'm sad and I'm two steps away from the abyss- and I'll be damned if go sunning and put on lipstick for everyone. I'm sure it's hard to believe by the way I yammer on here, but I try not to talk about how sad I am to people I am with; I guess I am using my body passive-aggressively show the world just how I feel inside.

I need to start eating more, I need to get a grip. Thanks for every reply and please keep them coming if you feel moved to write... If I knew when the pain would end I could bear it, I just fear it will carry on interminably.

I guess I will search for faith that it will end.
posted by skjønn at 1:00 AM on February 27, 2007

I've done grief, and I've done depression. Here's what they taught me.

The only person it could even conceivably make sense to show how much you're hurting is the prick you've just left, and he doesn't care.

You don't deserve to feel worthless.

It makes no sense at all to beat yourself up worse than he's already beaten you up. All this brow-clutching and garment-rending is only hurting you, and you've been hurt more than enough already.

The trouble with the whole disappearing into the abyss thing is that it's all so limiting and one-way. Stay away from there, and you leave open the possibility of today and tomorrow being better than yesterday was.

When you next go sunning and putting on lipstick, don't be doing that for anybody but you.

When you feel like shit, remind yourself over and over and over that I am a good person, I am a whole person, this is what it feels like for a whole person to grieve, grieving is acceptable, and when I'm done grieving I will feel better.

Doing your level best to eat properly and sleep properly will take the worst of the edge off the grief and help you get through to the other side of it without unnecessary delay.

Best of luck to you. I hope you feel better soon.
posted by flabdablet at 2:56 AM on February 27, 2007

(My advice about getting out in the sun was literally for sunshine's antidepressant properties. My doc told me the same thing for when I get depressed-and when I am hypomanic I'm supposed to stay out of the sun or wear expensive sunglasses.)
posted by konolia at 5:43 AM on February 27, 2007

One practical thing that might help is if you make a list of all the ways he wronged you and keep it with you. When you start missing him, get it out and read it. And, if you see him with another woman, get it out and tell yourself that now she's having to deal with his crappy behavior. I did this once and found it helpful.

I went through something like you're going through when I was about 25. It was pure and utter misery for a bunch of months, then I was quite the ho-dog for a couple of years, trying to prove .... something to myself. Then, I met my husband. We've been together 11 years, have a beautiful daughter and I have come to know what real love is.

FWIW, I still, 20 years later, have dreams about the other guy. In fact, I had one last night, sparked, I think, by reading your question and the replies. In any case, by the light of day I know that he was a jerk and my husband is the real deal. You will feel better and you will know love and happiness.
posted by BluGnu at 8:08 AM on February 27, 2007

Hey there, skjønn. It's true, time heals. Meanwhile, you have to take care of yourself. You know, #1, and all that. You dance? Goodness, I would think that would have everything needed to feel the void. You have an art. Put all your hurt in it, together with the joy you once felt, and show it to everyone. Channel it to an audience.

I was only 31 when I lost my first partner. Not a breakup, but death. In some ways that's better, because the love stays behind. But it's still a matter of having one's heart ripped right out. We'd been together 5 years, some of them very rocky, but the last was the winner. It ended on a very happy note.

That was a long time ago. Now i'm going to have my 10th annaversary this June. It took awhile to get over the loss, but now it is a memory without pain.

You can do it. But you have to eat, and you have to work and you have to dance. You have to be with people, too. But you know that, of course.

You broke your heart. Now get to it, and break the hearts of audiences. Please? (I admit, I'm an incurable dance fan)
posted by Goofyy at 10:42 AM on February 27, 2007

Response by poster: konolia- my comment about sunning was in no way a reference to your comment. and it probably would do me some good to get some sunshine.

and to everyone who told me I could contact them personally, thank you, and beware because I just might take you up on that the next time I feel a tailspin coming.
posted by skjønn at 12:44 PM on February 27, 2007

Hold tight, skjønn, don't fade away.
You've already started with the outline of yourself, now you're filling it in. As I see it. I've just started realizing that and I'm twice your age, so you're ahead, way ahead.
] I had my heart crushed over a year ago, age isn't proportional to wisdom. Better late than never, I say to myself [

The OUTLINES I speak of...
Your priority is to yourself. You've stated what's important for you in a relationship — fidelity. You dumped the person even though you felt so strongly about them at the time.

You're already making progress, see, by laying down what is acceptable behaviour for you.

It's Big of you to bring this subject up too, I approved your cursing out someone whom you thought read you wrong and assumed ]and apologized once they cleared up their intent[.

Continue doing what you love, the ballet. I'm still doing what I love too, sport-wise, goaltending, ice hockey. Because I'm on SSRI's, I'm able to focus better and my game has improved, incredible. Maybe it's an escape, I don't know. I love it.

Looks like you're on the right road. The Rocky Mountains are a tonic in themselves.
posted by alicesshoe at 6:10 PM on February 28, 2007

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