How I got through (and over) my love failure

September 4 2010

With millions of people getting love failure every year, I thought it would be appropriate to write about my own. I realized I mention it sometimes in my blog posts and upon noticing this it sort of bothered me, but when I think about it, it really has shaped me into the great person I am today.

A brief background on what happened:

I was with Anipra for 14 years we got known each other, since I was 16 years old. I don't think she ever really wanted to marry me, but she didn't want to lose me either, so I think she chose the less painful path for her. Two years before we began talking about getting married, She began to force me to get married asap. This went on for several months until I met her father. I hoped we could fix the marriage and her family seemed willing as well. When the engagement ring was given to me, I was excited, happy, and joyful. This is one of the most wonderful things that happened in my life... Also, it has brought me to realize the beauty of being in love with my gorgeous fiancĂ©e....

After that the worst thing happened in my life. YES! I was arrested for a false complaint. At that point I was 28 years old and we had been together for 12 years. I was really at my lowest of lows. I was convinced that there was no possible way I was going to heal from this and thought of myself as "damaged goods". Her family stopped everything and she too didn't understand my honesty and betrayed me. My self esteem was in the toilet. I lost my faith in marriage and love. I thought over and over again, "Does ANYONE live happily ever after anymore?"

Before I could even think of living happily ever after with someone else, I had to live happily ever after with myself. After I picked myself up off the ground (actually, more like dug myself out of a deep hole full of crap) I started making plans about how I was going to heal. I'll be honest; part of it was needing to prove to Anipra that I wasn't going to hold a candle for her and want her back (which I didn't anyway). I wouldn't let her or anyone else think I could let this take over me and cause permanent damage. I vowed I would become a damage piece of crap, better than ever! I never realized just how powerful that message to myself became.

I compiled a list of things I did to heal and get over her and the event (note: those are two totally separate things to get over. I found it MUCH easier to get over her rather than what happened). They are in no particular order:

1. Therapy
Luckily, I  got a great therapist for counseling. I saw her at least once a week or twice. In her office I was allowed to be as vulnerable as I needed without judgement and say things I may be embarrassed to tell anyone else.

2. Telling my story
I can't count how many times I have told the story. The first few times it was like I was telling it about someone else because I was still in shock that I was in that situation. Very soon I learned that I was made alone, and I couldn't relate anyone else like me. Quickly it became more about gossiping, and less about healing. I went to a workshop about 4 months after that and I had split and the woman running it confronted me and very firmly told me to stop telling my story, saying that I was giving my power up to her. At first I believed her, but soon after thought that was the worst advice I had ever heard. I was actually giving myself power by hearing the words come out of my mouth and slowly figuring out how and why it all fell apart. How was I supposed to learn anything by keeping my mouth shut? The more I shared my story, the more my growth and development flourished.

3. Faith
When I was in Chennai an old man stopped me and as he approached I thought he was going to ask me for directions. He said, "Who is God to you?" I replied with no hesitation, "He's Lord Ayyappan". I almost had to turn around and look over my shoulder to see if that answer had come from someone else. I hadn't been to temple since she betrayed me. But the answer came out of my mouth like I was saying my own name. He smiled and gave me Swamy Ayyappan's photo and walked away. As I walked down to my home tears streamed down my face. I knew where I had to go. As I pulled into the parking lot of the temple I grew up going to I didn't know exactly why I was there. In the temple I asked about the old man who gave me the photo and I found him.  He said he remembered me and asked me why I was there. I broke down in uncontrollable sobs and told him. "Please don't think I'm crazy, I'm not on hope, really!" That's all I could come up with. He handed me a piece of soft absorbent paper and said, "Son, everyone is born with a hole in their heart. All our lives we try to fill it up with things like money, food, sex, alcohol and whatever else. If you fill it with God, everything will work out."

4. Exercise
Did I just hear a collective groan? Really, exercise helped me tremendously. My exercise of choice was running (still is) and I ran my heart out. I ran and imagined myself running away from my problems (which is obviously impossible, but it was great motivation), I ran to be somewhere else. I put my headphones on and listened to sometimes angry music (Alanis Morisette's "You Oughta Know" and Nine Inch Nails "Hand that Feeds You") or sometimes inspirational music (AR Rahman's "Roja" to "Robo") Sometimes I would run so fast and so hard I felt like my heart would explode out of my chest. But what exercise did for me was
1) Gave me something to do to fill time
2) Gave me confidence mentally and physically
3) Cleared my head
4) Lord knows I needed all the help I could get in that department
5. Family and Friends/Filled my calender
Very soon after the big event I was sitting alone in my apartment with my computer and a bottle of vodka. I realized If this continued I would end up crying every night and slowly turn into as Rajini said"I am not an elephant I am a horse If I fell down I ll getup fast with huge force" But my life went without the humor and something I lost. So, I picked up the phone, grabbed my planner and called all of my family and blogging friends. I made plans for as many nights as I could. Looking back, this was probably one of the most helpful things that I did. Everyone was more than willing to see me and spend time with me. It got me out of my apartment and took my mind off things. Time passed quicker.

6. Journaling
I had started journaling when I suspected she betrayed me and her family was cheating, so I just continued. I got all of my crazy thoughts, typed in all caps, wrote her scathingly hateful letters (which never got sent), and basically poured my heart and soul out. When I couldn't call her to scream at her, I would take it out on my keyboard and start typing.  When I felt like I was falling apart, I would write. It was password protected because even in death I don't want anyone to see it. What was most helpful was looking back at what I was feeling and seeing my own healing progress. It gave me hope that things could get even better.

7. Creating a Vision Board
This came later in my healing, after I realized I was worthy (and ready) for a better life. I developed "the attitude of gratitude" and wrote down 10 things I was grateful for. It was actually easier to come up with than I thought it would be.  I then drew a picture of what I wanted my life to look like. It was simple (I'm no artist, it was basically stick figures).  I had to come to terms with the fact that it may take a long time until I met someone great, but I knew exactly what I wanted her to be like. My vision board told her story; She will have integrity and I am waiting for her.

8. Reading self help books
My therapist recommended a couple, but one that I "accidentally" found at a book store helped me the most. Welcome to Your Crisis by Laura Day helped me realize my situation was an invitation for a new life. Private Lies by Frank Pittman talks about the reasons spouses cheat. I didn't focus too much on reading about infidelity and broken love because for me, I knew it was over. I read books that helped me become a better person. I also read two books on codependency and later found out I was what is know as a "love addict" and read Pia Mellody's Facing Love Addiction (which by the way, if you're codependent, there's a good chance you're a love addict). This particular book spoke to me. It was one of those books where I thought she was writing about my life. After every other page my jaw fell open and I furiously took notes and said out loud, "Oh my GOD!" It was shocking how much of a love addict I was in that relationship and I am forever grateful that I found out so I could fix it.

9. Online support
I never thought this would help, but it did. I found a love failure support group on i village. On their discussion boards I found a group of men all going through their own failures. Some were victims of infidelity, others had different stories. But it was a place where I could be anonymous and vent, complain, get advice and just have sincere support. I was amazed at the genuine encouragement and friendships that were developed there. Sometimes it was difficult because my friends, although loving, caring and supportive, couldn't relate because none of them had ever been in my situation. There on my online support group I had a sense of sociability that was greatly needed.

10. Blogging
Honestly, writing this blog has helped a lot. It's helped me organize and put on paper what I've learned. I had to come to terms with the fact that that relationship is a big part of my past and a big part of who I am. Blogging has helped. It's allowed me to use it as an avenue not of complaint, but of gratitude for the learning. If you're thinking about doing it, but aren't sure if you want other people reading about it, remember you can always make your blog private, invite people to read it by email only or publish it later when you're ready.

11. Screaming in my room alone
Okay, so I left the most lunatic sounding one for last. Yes, I screamed as loud as I could in my room. I felt it was the only place no one would hear me. I screamed so loud I would lose my voice. I would scream obscenities at Anipra. If anyone did hear me I probably would have been committed, but I needed to do it, so I did.

Those are the things that did help. I think it's important to point out something that didn't: I needed more time. Looking back, I really enjoyed the time I had my little studio apartment by out side of the city, just me and my parents. I was terrified, but so alive. Too soon I started feel like I took the hard way to learn who I was and hurt some people along the way.

It took me a long time to get where I am today. It wasn't easy. It was the hardest thing I've ever faced in my life. I never thought I would end up a statistic but I did. My heart goes out to anyone going through a love breakdown, weather you wanted it or not. There are so many different emotions involved.

If you get nothing else from this post, please believe if you are going through this or have in the past, a love failure is an opportunity for growth and development. Once the fog clears, pick yourself up and make it your mission to have a kick ass life. It's your choice.


Asuka said...

Hi PRABHU~ I admire your vulnerability exposed! Obviously everything happens for a reason & I'm honored to know such a strong man!

Shreeja said...

Wow I can 100% relate I have the same story.I just recently ended another long term relationship we are not married. Things didn't work out and I am having to start all over again like a divorce it feelings like a divorce. I thought my life would be different. Thank you for reminding me how to get thru this time. Thank you for your honesty. I didn't know you in high school that well I'm glad I know you now. your brave!!!

Sakthi said...

definitely any break up can feel like a love failure, thanks for pointing that out. Hopefully you can look at your break up as an opportunity for time to grow and teaching your surroundings what a strong, single man looks like! I wish you all the best!

Pooja said...

Last time I had my heart broken, that's exactly what I did. I decided to become awesome.

I started working out, and writing, and learning languages, planning epic trips, and the best part of my life has been since then. Now I can officially say I'm awesome, and I owe it all to being crushed.