Sunday, June 17, 2012

Breaking Up Is Hard to Do

You know how sometimes you're cleaning the lint out of the dryer, or picking up the forty-two thousand cheddar bunnies that your child has tossed onto the carpet, or walking up the stairs to get the laundry you keep forgetting to bring down for the hundredth time and suddenly you have an unexpected flashback from The Old Days? The days when things like cheddar bunnies weren't on your list of things you knew existed and laundry only happened once or twice a month and you wore make-up more days than you didn't.

I had a flashback like that the other day whilst doing something mundane and house-wifely, like washing the dishes or making a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. Out of nowhere came this image of my younger self with dyed, one-shade-lighter than goth hair, glistening in the sun. What was that about, I wondered. I remembered that those boxes of impermanent hair dye come with this magical conditioner that makes your hair shiny and awesome for a few weeks. I found myself considering dying my hair again. And then, the logical part of my brain shot that idea down.

After pondering the benefits of hair dye for a moment, I washed another dish and mulled over that bit of my hair's history and then recalled a little more about what the catalyst for one-step-away-from-goth hair had been. The Kardashians weren't ubiquitous then, so it couldn't have been an unconscious attempt at achieving the hue of their lustrous, unnaturally shiny locks. And then I remembered.

That dye job was right out of my old "I just got dumped" playbook. I dyed my hair soon after a less than enjoyable summer of yo-yo dating and then a subsequent break-up. My solution to this "devastating" loss was to dye my hair a semi-ungodly color. It was super shiny for a while and then it was just awkwardly dark.

This stroll down breakup memory lane prompted a bit of reminiscing about my ill-advised responses to breakups during my twenties. In case you aren't there yet, or can't really remember them, the twenties are a teensy bit tumultuous. There's a boatload of figuring out how the heck to be an adult that spawns more than a little drama. And, everything feels so intensely important and weighty and life-altering. Turning thirty solves some of this, and having a child solves a whole lot more of it. However, I have this sneaking suspicion that it might start all over again at forty.

Anyway, I thought you might enjoy a little look back at some of the ways I turned a breakup into a dramatic life-altering revolution. And if you're still a single, twenty-something or other, maybe you should take notes.

1. My first misguided response to a break-up may seem pretty dull, and to be fair, it was. Essentially, the choice here was to become a nun of sorts. I lived in a house with five women, spent hours and hours reading my Bible and praying and was for all intents and purposes a nun/hermit. I think we even called our house a "nunnery" if I remember correctly. Looking back, this wasn't as dramatic a response as it could have been, but it took me a while to get back in the game after a semester as a nun/hermit/potential una-bomber.
NOTE: This is not to say that a semester of reading my Bible and praying was a bad thing. I just didn't get out much. Or ever.

2. The second response was a little bit more dramatic and maybe a little more pathetic considering the boyfriend in question wasn't an official boyfriend. Lots of ambiguity and confusion here, friends, so we'll just skip to the misguided response part. After a dramatic conclusion to our non-relationship, I resigned from my first real job in the city and moved back in with my parents, four hours away. I was 23 so let's all give early-twenties-me a break.

3. Breakup number three was less dramatic and more crazy ex-girlfriend-ish. No, I didn't burn anyone's house down or key anyone's car. I did, however, decide that it would be a really good idea to join the gym which my gym-obsessed ex-boyfriend frequented. I still cannot explain what made this seem like a good idea at the time, especially when my greatest fear was running into said ex-boyfriend at said gym.

Feeling better about yourself yet?

4. A few years later, after a long-distance relationship suddenly became no-distance, the "no" part of that equation led my boyfriend to decide that we should call quits. This breakup was the catalyst for the goth hair I mentioned above (which really wasn't as bad as you're imagining). It was also the impetus for the purchase of an almost brand-new Jeep Wrangler. Turns out, owning a new car doesn't make being dumped feel any more awesome in case you were thinking it would.

So, maybe there weren't as many unfortunate responses to breakups as I remembered. Maybe I'm blocking a few out for my sanity's sake. All I know is that it's a good thing Matt showed up when he did, or who knows how long this blog post would be or what sort of lunacy I might have engaged in over a breakup (i.e. I was probably just one breakup away from a tattoo).

Now I'm curious if anybody else out there has made an ill-advised decision related to a breakup. I'd love to hear it...


  1. Henry was my one and only boyfriend so I have no stories to confess. As I read through this post all I could think was--I bet she's glad now for those break-ups because without them she wouldn't have married her perfect-for-her husband and had her precious little boy.

  2. First, I want to say that I wish this post had accompanying photographs.

    Second, while I'd like very much to add to this litany, I'm afraid mine are not as amusing. I always went back to the same sad-sack (yet hot) guy after each break-up as he was a soft place to fall down after each plummet from relationship mountain. This is not healthy behavior. And not nearly as proactive and entertaining as buying hair dye. :)

  3. Mrs. Patton,
    I would have loved your experience of having only dated one man! That would have solved a lot of drama and anxiety on my part. I certainly am so thankful for the way the story ended. (-; Excited for you and the new addition to y'all's family later this month, by the way!



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