Small Life, Slow Life: How I Got My Ex Back. (Seriously.)

DSCN7635

I let him go.

Really.

I know too well what it’s like to be nursing a broken heart, thinking I’d do anything to get back with my former flame. I’ve thought of every tactic out there. Lonely months went by and I slimmed down to a ghostly version of my former, happy self.

I alienated my friends because the breakup was all I could talk about. “But he was The One!” I said to them, over and over.

My work performance suffered because I couldn’t stop the toxic spewing of negative crap from my mouth. I barely slept and became really destructive.

I told myself the myth that if he just came back to me, my whole life would be fixed.

Yeah. That didn’t happen.

Heart on fire, ashes everywhere
— there’s no return from a red like that.

MANUEL DE FREITAS

It took a long time to give up on him and realize that I was facing my life alone. But after so much misery and thinking I’d never be happy again, it dawned on me that the worst had already happened, and there was nothing else to lose.

Weirdly, there was a kind of freedom in that thought. It was a clean slate.

I realized I’d totally abandoned myself, and I decided to reclaim my life.

Nick&Darcy-500

It was during an anti-gravity yoga class that I rocked in Savasana and saw C’s face float in front of my eyes. I looked at it for a long time and softly said “Goodbye.”

Not till we are lost, in other words not till we have lost the world, do we begin to find ourselves, and realize where we are and the infinite extent of our relations.
HENRY DAVID THOREAU

So I moved on. I did what they all tell you to do – I spent time with friends, I took up hobbies, I learned to enjoy taking up the whole bed as I slept alone. I spent mornings drinking coffee on my new balcony (instead of bemoaning that I’d had to get a new apartment by myself at age 31 when I thought I was going to be married by then). I exercised and cooked healthy foods for myself.

I tried things I would have never done before. I applied to speak at Beyond Luon. I learned to make kombucha. Eventually, I dated someone else. It took time, but I came back to life and reclaimed my life as my own.

And then, there he was.

After fully letting him go, finally accepting we were over, there he was. All the shit they said in the books was true. (Dammit.)

Because you know what really works, in breakups and with anything else you want desperately?

Giving up.

Surrendering.

Letting go.

Being at peace with the fact that the way you planned out your life flat-out failed.

And then, you know what happens?

That thing you desperately wanted comes and lands on your shoulder with total ease, like a happy little bird.

(And if it doesn’t, it wasn’t yours to begin with.)

We cannot lose what really belongs to us, even if we throw it away. Therefore we need have no anxiety.
THE I-CHING

So let it go. Stop thinking if you lose the weight, dress sexier, text him/her at 2am, that’ll work out. You’re missing the entire point.

As much as you can’t believe it, that person doesn’t even matter. You can be happy with someone else, eventually. And you can be very happy alone.

You are the one who matters.

Let nothing stand in the way of the happiness available to you at this exact moment.

Then go live your life and be prepared to be amazed.

28 thoughts on “Small Life, Slow Life: How I Got My Ex Back. (Seriously.)

  1. Pingback: Small Life, Slow Life: I’m Engaged! (For real.) | small life, slow life

  2. I googled and searched for days before finding your post. This is exactly what I needed to hear. Really letting go and being at peace that if he doesn’t come back, he wasn’t mine to begin with. Thank you for sharing your story. How long did it take you to finally let go? Did you both date other people?

    • Hi Nikki,

      I dated someone else, eventually. It took me a long time. C went on dates with two other people but nothing ever came of it for him.

      I was really resistant when my friends told me to date other people, but you know what? It really helped. Sometimes you just need someone to remind you that you’re worth it, and funny, and intelligent, and yes, attractive – especially attractive. Because it’s likely that your confidence is currently half-dead somewhere underground, and if you do want to attract him back into your life (or someone better), you’ll need to resurrect that confidence.

      Even when I was dating someone else, I wasn’t fully over C. That’s how it is with big love. But I found myself able to laugh again, and think of something other than the breakup most of the time, and that really helped. I also lived alone during that time and started focusing on really nurturing myself and giving myself the things I had denied when I was so wrapped up in the relationship with C. I cooked for myself and had late night dates with my girlfriends. I spent days in my pajamas watching marathon sessions of HBO’s Girls. And I played Britney Spears really, really loudly (C hates Britney, haha). I took super-long showers, simply because there was no one waiting for me to get out of the shower. I walked places. My life slowed down. Those things began to heal me, little by little.

      The thing I want to express about if he comes back to you is that it will NOT be the fantasy you have in your mind. In fact, you’ll initially really distrust him and it can be pretty upsetting, because then you will have to fix what broke. C and I are in pre-marital counseling and this stuff still comes up, over a year and a half since the breakup. So there’s that to think about too.

  3. Very inspiring story and something that I am currently struggling with. I was in love with the “love of my life” and I thought he too with me. That ended one day over a small disagreement over dinner. But, all my friends told me there was something greater at hand. I couldn’t really find any red flag issue but rather small mundane things that got on his nerves.

    It’s been about 5 months since we seen each other. Recent floods made me reach out to him just to let him know I care. But, I really think I need to let go of the thought of us getting back together. Then and only then do I think it will happen. It really is tough I was doing great, then his birthday hit and I went for a spin. ;(

    • Hey Rick,

      A setback is a very normal part of the process. I didn’t speak to my ex for three months but one day he began reaching out and asked if I wanted to have coffee. I was still very desperate and down and hoping we’d get back together, so I went. It was awful! Probably the most awkward cups of coffee ever shared between two people. After that, I thought I’d really messed up for good and that we’d never get back together. I decided to stop saying his name aloud, stop talking about the breakup and to just say YES to anything anyone asked me to do with them. “You know what,” I told myself, “he’s not coming back. So you have to decide to swim, or drown.”

      I decided to swim and I let any hope go of us reconciling, ever. One month later, he was back.

      Letting go is really part of the process. And as for your ex, you have to remember what originally attracted him to you — you were happy, and outgoing, and positive. Right now, while you’re holding on hoping that he comes back, you’re none of those things.

      Turn the focus back to YOU and remind yourself of what makes you, YOU, at an essential level. Do the things that remind you WHY you’re lovable and worthy. For me, it was writing, yoga and spending time with friends. One night when I was particularly sad, I wrote love letters to strangers and left them all around my town. Other people volunteer at a senior home or an animal shelter to remind themselves that their situation is not as bad as it feels.

      Five months feels like forever — I know it does. But your healing is just around the corner. I know it.

      • Thanks for the reply. I’ve really taken this all to heart. I’ve been “working on myself” but honestly it’s so half assed. You called me out =) I do want him back desperately but in that…I am not finding happiness. I’m not refocusing my efforts on myself and really saying…there is no reason to think we will get back. So I have to move forward. Sink or swim and now I have to swim. I honestly have SO much to be grateful for and it’s so annoying when I’m such a ball of positivity to all my friends and here I am sulking in my own ashes.

        So I’m really going to take my ship…cut the anchor that is keeping me in the sea of sadness and move on. If it happens and he comes back, oh … that’s a whole new world to explore. But, for now I’m going to make myself happy.

  4. This post and your other post has helped me so much! The one question I did have for you is that during the times or months that you and your ex at the time didn’t speak did it ever feel or seem like he had moved on? If so how did you deal with that part of the break up?

    I recently gotten out of a relationship and I completly removed myself from him. Kind of just like you mentioned in your other post- I agreed rather then crying and begging for him to not leave. I didn’t offer to be friends or anything. I just wished him well. Although its still fresh I feel like because we havent spoken hes over it. He has reached out to me once after we broke up but it is still just too soon to have a big turn around between us. I was hoping since this post was so encouraging that you would have a few words to spare when you maybe felt like this. I miss him so much but it seems like he is just fine and over it.

    I do think it is very important to get my life back. I want nothing more then to wake up not missing him and feeling like I want to cry. Today is his birthday and it hurts that I can’t even be there for him during that. I do understand why letting go is such a big part of a breakup because like you said- that relationship needed to end. In order to create a new relationship with him or anyone else I have to heal from that moment in my life and allow something new to come again.

    Thanks so much- I really love your blog! Out of all the “how to get your ex back” online searching lol this is the only post that hit home for me. It was real and honest. There was also a happy ending!

    • Oh I DEFINITELY felt like he had moved on. One time when we met up for coffee he even told me he’d been on dates with two people. I could *feel* that he was trying to move on and it totally destroyed me because the only person I could think about was him. It was because I thought he was just fine that I ended up forcing myself to move on. It was NOT easy. I only found out months and months later that my ex had actually been in a destructive downward spiral. But I truly thought that he was just fine.

      Sometimes you have to remember how it feels to be the one who does the breaking up. A few years ago, I was with this really great guy but I just knew we weren’t right for each other. I broke up with him in the kindest way I could and then asked that we not contact each other for a few weeks.

      I WAS A WRECK! I walked around feeling like the worst person ever, totally missing him, feeling like an idiot. I kept going back to my gut feeling that we weren’t right together, but the GUILT of being the one doing the breaking up can be devastating! When we finally did talk, he was angry that I hadn’t reached out and said he hated that I was “just totally fine” after the breakup. I never ended up telling him that I didn’t go to work for a week and was actually totally miserable.

      He left me alone, like I asked him to. I dated other people, but I always thought about him, And you know what? I did try to go back to him. But he was smart, and by the time I did, he had someone else.

      My point here is that it’s doubtful that your ex is “just fine.” Especially because you’re not contacting him, I’m sure he thinks about you a lot. Because it’s his birthday, I know he missed your presence. Even if there’s someone new in the picture, you just can’t move on that fast. I’ve broken up with guys to be with new guys (when I was younger, and not so great of a person) and totally missed the guys I broke up with. You just can’t break a connection that quickly. It’s impossible.

      To answer your question — how did I deal with that part of the breakup? Well, I was super miserable. I imagined my ex was off living this amazing life with all of these women around him. The thought of him getting away with happiness while I had to literally count reasons to get up in the morning was the worst. Ever. It was the saddest time in my life and it was a slow process.

      But I got a new apartment and printed a bunch of happy pictures of my friends & family and put them around. I spent a lot of time with my friends and co-workers (the positive ones) and avoided happily-in-love people like the plague. I saw movies, I read books, I took walks, I got a haircut, I listened to music really loud, and I cried. A lot. I cried so much, I was always congested. But I told myself that every time I cried, I was healing 0.5%-1% of the grief, so I willingly did it.

      There is no shortcut. “Pain demands to be felt.” –John Green

      So let yourself cry, and be miserable, and it’ll feel like forever, but then it will be over. And you’ll feel happy. I swear. It’s like magic…one day, you just feel better. And you might have little reminders that will mess you up, but it’ll be for only a few hours, instead of the entire day. And then it will amaze you that the next time you’re in love, it’ll be different. Deeper. Because you allowed yourself the experience of grieving, your capacity for love and joy will be exponentially bigger. And one day you’ll think, “You know? All that sadness was worth it.” I know I do.

      • Thank you so much for your words! This helped me a lot. My ex actually wrote me the day of his birthday because he was a little upset that I didn’t wish him a Happy Birthday. I felt really bad but I told him that he broke up with me and that I was acceting the situation. He then told me he misses me. Although it was nice to hear those words it still doesn’t change the situation. Were stil broken up and im still hurting. I feel like inorder to create a new relationship I have to grow from the last one. He does too. I miss him so much it hurts. But eventhough he is telling me that it still doesn’t feel right.

        I love what you said because it is true. The outside apperance is always different then the inside apperance. If you look at me you wouldn’t know I was hurting or in heartbreak but if you looked in the inside you would see how hard it has been on me. I have to remember that with him as well. I miss him dearly and I do hope that it works for us the second time around.

        Thank you so much!

      • Trust your gut. It will come to feel right, or it won’t. If he’s missing you and even hearing that doesn’t feel right, it could be because there is someone who will be a much better match for you waiting in the wings.

        Missing the person is the hardest part. Hate it.

        It’s been about a week — how are things going now?

      • It’s been getting easier. I have been taking your advice in your blog and just getting out and about. I became Vegan recently and it’s actually been the best thing happening to me. I HATE cooking lol but for some reason cooking vegan food has been very therapeutic for me. It’s amazing. Been going on lots of walks. Doing yoga. I have a goal to sit and meditate for 15-20 min a day for the next 30 days. I noticed when my thoughts start to race towards my ex I get very negative within myself and tense up physically. When I jus relax and stay calm throughout the day I have less episodes like that. I felt like meditating could help some.

        You can only live life day by day. That’s exactly what I am doing. Missing someone is the worst part but the only way out of this is letting go. Either way I have to let go. I talked to my cousin today and she told me her and her current boyfriend of 4 years actually broke up. It was her that wanted it. She wanted to live life more and expierence it with other people too. She broke his heart cause all he wanted was to be with her. She told me they had been broken up for 9 months and 6 of those months they were not speaking. At the end of the day she still loved him. She told me it just wasn’t the right time for them at that moment. She lived her life. She appeared happy. She dated other people. She was even quick to tell him to do the same thing. She told me that if it’s meant to happen with me and my ex that life will put us back together. Even when it feels impossible. Today it’s over. Accept that and go on with life happily. I thought her story was nice as well. The two of them are happier then I have ever seen them.

        Either way I am determined to let go and be happy. I’m not taking about it any more I am just doing it : )

  5. Howdy Jennifer! Swimming is going great. I took a few yoga classes (just like you talked about…talk about inspiration) and did all the things you talk about. Living life. Going out with new friends, playing videos games and just relaxing for a change. Like Lana wrote…”of all the blogs out there” regarding getting your ex back. This one has been by far the most beneficial.

    I see almost everything that you talk about in your situation, is in mine. I’ve seen his Facebook and all I see is him smiling and going out and having fun and I’m thinking how…how the hell can you be this happy when sometimes I can barely breathe. But, I go back to reality and I know…Facebook is only what people want you to see. Some of his friends have come back to tell me how hurt he is (even though he is the one that threw me out) and how he’s taking it really hard. I think you know if he would just call me and talk. But, you know what…nothing is there any more and I finally had that same moment when you let it all go. You just say you know what…I can’t worry about you any more. I have to take care of me. And I have. Back in the gym, back at work 100% back at life 100%.

    I just had a great date yesterday that unfolded from just a brunch meet up to an 8 hour lets walk the beach and have dinner too, date. I won’t lie…it took me back to my first date with the ex, and wow that was special. But, I’m back in the drivers seat. I don’t think we are getting back together to be honest. There has been a lot of hurt and spite that would be really hard to get over and so for now I will continue to make myself happy. The best thing of all? Is that I know I can love someone with ALL of my heart, love them so intensely and deeply and still…still be able to let go and wish them well and not be bitter about it. Yoga so far has taught me to live in the present. You can’t live in the past it already happened and you can’t live in the future cause it isn’t even here. So here’s to the present. =)

    • Hey Rick,

      I read a great article recently on Instagram life (or Facebook, or whatever) vs. real life. In other words, we’ve all become adept at putting out there that we’re living these super-fun, photo-worthy lives. That’s what your ex is doing too! How powerful would it be if we photographed the mundane everyday stuff? “Taking out the trash #selfie” — haha.

      I’m so glad you’re doing yoga! Yoga always makes me feel born anew. Ten minutes in, I’m holding a pose and regretting getting out of bed, and losing my balance because I’m really thinking of all the things that upset me…and then I come out of savasana feeling like a new person. Keep up the yoga. There is something so cleansing about physical activity when dealing with heartbreak.

      Dating is good. As long as you’re honest with the other person that you’re in a tender place, I highly recommend it. It helps to be reminded that lots of people would love to spend 8 hours talking with you (that’s a long date, wow)! It helps to restore the self esteem. You may still long for your ex, but that’s totally normal.

      You’re doing a wonderful job of swimming. Keep kicking. :)

  6. Hi.
    ive just read this and its hit me. I’ve heard this said a million ways but your way makes sense.
    My problem is that my ex is also the father of my child and he’s already in a new relationship that seems to have started whilst we were meant to be trying to sort our relationship out.
    I’m still stuck in the painful crying my life is over stage, boring everyone close to me.
    I’ve made plans to do new things and try and look after me an our son but it feels so fake and pointless at the moment.
    I struggle to understand how everything we had is gone to him and how he can be away from our son (he does see him a few evenings and 1 day at weekend).
    I feel lost and robbed of my life and like it was just given to someone else.

    • The crying “my life is over” stage is the worst. Because you have to get it out, you have to talk about it over + over. I remember the feeling of my friends being drawn away from me because I couldn’t stop talking about it. And yet, bore them you must. You will get through this.

      I can’t understand completely, because I don’t have a child.

      I know you wish this never happened. I know you must be afraid of raising your child alone. And even though your ex is in a new relationship, I will tell you this: the new relationship is just a temporary thing for him. And, you can have him back, if you really want him.

      But knowing all of this…that he began with someone else when you were sorting things out, that he’s only seeing your son occasionally…let me ask you, at a deep level: do you REALLY want him?

      I know you’re heartbroken. But in a year, you won’t be. In a year, you can be with anyone you want — someone stable, who loves your son, who will never go anywhere. You’ll have to do some hard work to get there, but you can and WILL get there.

      Knowing that you can have ANYONE by your side that you want…is your ex really the one you would choose?

      Sending love.
      Jen

      • Thank you for responding.

        You ask a valid question and there are 2 answers. No I don’t want a relationship with the person he has become over the last year or so. But I desperately want the person he was before.

        Its hard to know if the person I fell in love with ever really existed or was it a mask until he decided to remove it.

        I know I can raise my son on my own if I have to (although have a lot of family and friends to help) but I miss having his dad to share it all with.

        My loneliness is the real kick in the gut as I can’t go out after my little boy in bed. And friends and family have their own things to do in the evening.

  7. It’s almost been 3 months since we’ve broken up. We have the same friendship circle at college, and all the same classes. We’re friends but sometimes (a lot of the time) I go home and I’m missing it all. It really is difficult.

    I don’t think it’s possible to become lovers, friends then lovers again. I guess I gotta move on.

    • Hi Elise.

      I totally get it. When I was dating C the first time, we introduced his brother to my best friend.

      And then they got married.

      And then when we broke up, I didn’t have anywhere to live, so naturally…I lived with my best friend for a while. And C’s BROTHER!

      Eventually I moved out on my own, but when there were get-togethers like birthdays or Superbowl parties or even just our group of friends going to see a movie, there was always this awkward thing where friends didn’t know whom to invite. I was the best friend, but he was family.

      It was hurtful and very difficult. I absolutely understand what you’re going through.

      It’s not an easy fix, but you are on a college campus where lots of young people are wanting to meet other young people. Clubs are going on, groups in classes are meeting to study, there’s Friday night at the local bar…why not partake in some of these things?

      For me, I worked at lululemon, so I started to form deeper friendships with the people who worked there. I started going to workout classes with them and there’s nothing better for getting over a breakup than physically moving your body. It’s very healing.

      I feel for you.

      Whether you get back together with him or not, the first step IS to actually move on. In either case, it’s the same. You must get over the pain and get over HIM before you can revisit a new relationship with him. I have some tips for getting over an ex in another blog post.

      I understand just where you are. <3 I'm here.

      Jen

  8. Hey. I’m glad I found this. I’ve been holding on & pining for so long now. It’s been a year since the break up. Thank you. You have inspired me to get myself back.

      • Thank you. I love your site. It’s been really difficult for me. Every time I tell myself I need to move on I don’t. We dated for almost a decade & were friends before. The worst part is he did come back and seemed interested but I now know it’s just him messing with me I guess. I keep reading this to force myself to focus on me. So again thank you.

  9. This article really helped me. I spilt up with my partner 2 months ago. I am still desperately hoping we’ll work it out, but learning to accept that even if we don’t, i’ll be alright again :) Really happy you and C worked out Jennifer xx

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