First, this is not an announcement. El Guapo and I are just fine. Second, though I often include music when I borrow a title to introduce a post, I’m not going to do it this time–I don’t remember liking the original all that well, and lyrics like “Comma, comma (cumma cumma?) down dooby doo down down” are not hitting the spot right now. We’ll just get straight to the main idea:
Breaking up is hard to do.
The Atlantic’s weekly advice column, “Dear Therapist,” gives curious onlookers access to answers by a psychotherapist to questions that readers submit. A recent column involved advice on how to get over a past love, and the therapist’s advice began like this:
The hardest thing about “getting over” someone is that in order to move on, we have to figure out what we’re actually grieving. Whenever we go through a breakup, we don’t just break up with our partner—we also break up with our future. By that I mean, the future we had imagined taking place with this person. And when we’re grieving the loss of our past and our future, it’s hard to stay in the present—and do something to improve it….Our struggle to release a wished-for future can be just as powerful a roadblock to change as our struggle to release a wished-for past.”
I’m very fortunate that I’m not facing a breakup with my partner, but for various rather complicated reasons, I am facing a breakup with the future I had envisioned in our beloved little farmhouse and our quirky, creaky barn. I’m wondering whether the therapist’s advice can help me out at all. I guess having established a past in a place has a tendency to provide the outlines of what a future there could look like, and when those outlines don’t get inked in the way we expect them to, it can be unsettling.
Does this idea of breaking up with an imagined future resonate with you? Does it shed any light on the way you feel about such things, or offer a way forward that’s less painful?