It’s been exactly a year since I began my healing journey. It’s been a long ride with lots of twists, turns, and growth, and guess what? I am excited to introduce you to the final pages of the Traumatic Breakup chapter of my story! I can write this from a place of forgiveness and acceptance because I was able to truly move on.
The traumatic aspect of the breakup
At the end of our relationship, I blamed myself. I have an incredibly big heart, and I gave every ounce of love, respect, and kindness I had to my ex. If you’d read my journals through those three years, even if I was mad at him, I still wrote about how grateful I was for him. When he ended it without warning, I thought it was all my fault. Maybe it wouldn’t have happened if I hadn’t proposed on my birthday, or if I didn’t ask him to open pickles jars. Maybe if I hadn’t given him all of the love and support or hadn’t wanted the same amount of effort that I gave on Valentine’s Days or birthdays. Maybe I wanted sex too much. Maybe if I had found and replaced his favorite hat from the day he and one of his good friends almost got killed by giant waves. Maybe I shouldn’t have replaced his broken Xbox as a surprise. The list grew longer and longer as I stacked the blame on my shoulders because there were no answers to my questions. In four short days, I had the rug pulled out from under me, and I was on a plane, when not even a week prior I had told him that the best day of my life was the day that I met him.
Here’s how I can best explain why and how this breakup was traumatic. Every guy I’ve dated has been abusive in some way, shape, or form. Verbally, emotionally, sexually, or physically. My dad also checked all of those boxes except the sexual abuse aspect. Most of what I know of men is pain. When my ex and I got together, I was wary, but I had a feeling that he was different. I took time in getting to know him and let my guard down slowly. When I finally opened my heart, I thought I had triumphed over my past. I had found The One and reached the milestone that abuse survivors dream of: a person that loves us for who we are and treats us well and with respect. I was moving on to a happy healthy life with a wonderful person that I would never stop showering in love and kindness out of gratitude. I’ll never forget the hope, the joy, and the absolute dream come true it was to have this man in my life for the rest of my life. To believe and trust in that with my whole being, and to have it all ripped away by the very person that told me every single day that he loved me more than I loved him… the pain was unbearable. All the traumas that I had conquered rose up and gathered around to tell me how worthless, stupid, and disgusting I was for believing I could turn my life around. Trauma amplified the loss of sharing safety, love, and happiness with someone so important to me.
30-Day Breakup Recovery Journal
The avoidant attachment style & finding closure
I learned about attachment theory from a book in my September Reading List. I got a few more books about attachment theory out of curiosity, and suddenly, all the answers were in front of me. I gave my heart and soul to a dismissive-avoidant man. When he discarded me when I needed him most… he was doing what avoidants do best: running away when things got tough. Cue what happened to me when I realized the extent of my trauma and asked for support while crying really hard. I was shocked and having an anxiety attack. It was the moment I needed him most in our relationship, and he bailed.
A relationship with an avoidant is a relationship with a doomsday clock. It’s going to get to zero eventually. The trouble is, the avoidant doesn’t know when and neither does their partner. When I read this, I found closure. I found closure in learning that none of it was my fault, there was no logical reason, and he was protecting himself from an imagined boogieman. I showed an avoidant person unconditional love, and it terrified him. Avoidants are attached to their independence and the idea of not needing anyone, and as a result, they are notorious for sabotaging healthy relationships because of their fear of emotions and vulnerability. An avoidant person would rather put themselves through the pain of ending a relationship and spend a long time getting over it, instead of attending a few months of counseling to build a stronger bond with their partner. The pain is easier than vulnerability. They find ways to convince themselves that their partner is not right for them, while their partner doesn’t know, has done nothing different or wrong, and continues loving them.
It was as if the breakup followed a script once I read more about avoidant personalities. The avoidant says that, “It just didn’t feel right,” or, “I don’t know why I can’t be with you”, or “I don’t love him/her the way he/she need to be loved” without taking a second to examine themselves. Introspection means dealing with emotions, so they place the blame on their partner’s non-existent inadequacy while saying, “It’s me, not you”. The truth is, the avoidant doesn’t feel worthy of the love, affection, or attention they are shown, so they push away, then suppress their emotions even further and lie to themselves, setting up false mental blocks around the relationship to protect themselves. An avoidant finds a myriad of ways to justify pushing their partner away without warning and ignore the pain they’ve caused.
The brain does even more to protect an avoidant personality. My ex’s memory confused me a lot because he would forget things almost instantly. Now I understand that if there was an emotion tied to the memory, his brain literally threw it away. There is quite a bit of mental gymnastics involved in telling themselves that they’re better off alone and that they’ll lose their independence in a relationship when it was never under threat in the first place. The abruptness of a relationship with an avoidant ending has to do with their survival instinct, not a real fault in their partner. They run from the amount of love they feel for a partner because it’s too intense. Sadly, it’s common for avoidants to deeply hurt the people that they love most. It’s safer to implode a healthy relationship than to be vulnerable and close with someone that loves them very much and wouldn’t dream of hurting them.
I saw the futility of loving someone like this. Imagine loving someone that will never be there for you, not because they don’t want to be, but because they don’t know how to be. Imagine suffering a trauma that’s completely out of your control (like a parent passing away or a miscarriage) and having a 50-50 chance that your partner will disappear instead of supporting you. An avoidant will not recognize or value the effort and love that you give to them, because it makes them uncomfortable. I didn’t want to believe it at first, but something cemented it for me: his admission that this was the second time he had done this to a girl. All sorts of things clicked, like when I asked him to set up therapy for us in preparation for getting married. He balked and didn’t do it. I wanted to go to therapy so that we would learn to communicate better and form a stronger bond as a married couple, not because I thought something was wrong with us. I had a list of things that I thought we could be better at, and the second time he read it, he said, “I can’t do this anymore.” I had identified some issues, and all we had to do was work together for a short time to solve them and improve ourselves. That was too much because therapy meant facing himself. It also made sense why I was led on and lied to about getting back together. Getting back together would have meant emotional labor. I sat waiting for him to call one night after he promised he would so that we could discuss what getting back together would look like, and the call never came. I stayed up until 5 a.m. waiting for my phone to ring because he said that he wanted me back. Did it hurt? Yeah, it crushed me. A pattern of this happened over and over again until I reached my point of no return. I knew he loved me, but he was too busy standing in his own way to be honest with himself or me. I never wanted control of his life or to smother him. I loved him simply for being who he was and for offering me a chance to be loved back without fear of being harmed. I wanted to love, cherish, and support a person that helped me believe in myself again and also helped me stop letting pain keep me from living. But he pushed me too far, and I had to move on to keep from getting hurt anymore. I realized he would never see the huge mistake he made. I moved on because I know for a fact there are plenty of men out there that won’t treat the woman they love most like that.
Reading about this attachment style was like reading a script of the entire relationship from beginning to end. Everything became so clear. Since I’m working toward a more secure attachment style, I know that I can’t allow avoidant men into my life anymore. It’s my turn to avoid them because it’s not worth the inevitable pain. I’ve done too much work healing to value and love myself and unlearn everything else, and I’m not giving that up. I am so much better off without a person like that in my life, and that can’t be denied or challenged.
Learning about attachment styles and knowing it would have ended this way no matter what I had done was my closure. An avoidant person is on a mission to keep themselves protected in an emotionless space, doomed to repeat the same thing over and over again, without even knowing it. It’s like a caterpillar making a cocoon, and then popping out as a caterpillar repeatedly.
And there you have it, folks. Thus ends this aspect of my healing journey. I’ve washed my hands of him, shelved this breakup, and worked through the trauma attached to it. That doesn’t mean the end of my blog though! What’s next on the agenda? Oh, you’ll see, and I have a feeling you are going to be absolutely stoked for me.
Want more Noire Memoir? Sure ya do! My Tuesday newsletter is a step by step advice thread on how to deal with an avoidant partner. Check it out by putting your info below: