real life

"The moment I scrolled onto 'their first photo' in my Instagram feed."

Carrie Bradshaw told us it takes half the amount of time you were in a relationship to get over your relationship. Heartbreak is temporary. Healing is a process. Blah blah blah.

For me, it’s been three months. Three long months of chocolate, wine and girls’ nights in since my heart was torn in two. Three long months of learning to love myself again – working out, eating well and throwing myself into my job.

We have almost been apart longer than we were together. It’s been a REALLY long time. I should be ok by now. I should be out meeting new people, dating, getting married, buying houses and popping babies. But I’m not.

Some days, I feel like I’m really getting there. Others, I’m still a complete mess. Hurt, scattered and lonely.

I’ve accepted that I’ll never have the closure I deserved. I will never get the answers to my many, many questions. I will never see him again. And I will never really know why he thought a text message was a socially acceptable means to break up with someone who loved him so much.

I’ve stopped stalking him on social media. I’ve stopped awkwardly bringing him up in conversations with friends. I’ve stopped looking for him in crowded rooms, thinking about what could have been.

I’ve stopped loving him.

But it doesn’t mean I’m ‘over him’. It doesn’t mean I’m ready to move on. And it doesn’t mean I’m ready for him to move on either.

I was not ready to see my ex-boyfriend appear – unexpectedly – on my Instagram feed. And I was not ready to see him with another girl.

There she was smiling, happy, full of anticipation for the night ahead. There she was in the public realm of his Instagram page – the ultimate display of public affection – that I was always denied because he “didn’t like photos” and was “unphotogenic.”

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I can tell you exactly where I was, what I was doing and who I was with when I came across that photo. Not because it was two days ago, but because it will stick with me forever.

I felt physically sick. Like flushed-cheeks, sweaty-palms, heart-racing sick. Like I-legitimately-had-to-take-a-day-off-work sick. I felt like I’d lost a getting-over-your-ex competition I didn’t know I had entered.

She looked about the same age as me. Same hair. Same smile. Same build. What made her so different? What made her better or more worthy than me? What made her his?

Did she know about me?

Obviously – like any crazy ex girlfriend girl – I began to stalk. Him, her and the next-door neighbour’s cat. I can tell you her full name, date of birth and all of our mutual friends. I can tell you about her parents, her sisters and where they spent Christmas in 1998. I can tell you – with great reluctance – that she’s pretty, probably smart, maybe funny, possibly even kind. Gosh darn it.

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But I can’t tell you if she’s the ex-girlfriend he wasn’t over. I can’t tell you if he was cheating with her while he was at his “Nanna’s 80th” or “buying a new fridge.” And I can’t tell you how he’s okay – how he is so clearly moving on with someone else – when I am not.

"How is he okay? How is he moving on? Just. How." Image: iStock.

IT’S ONLY BEEN THREE MONTHS.

I wish I could say I'm happy for him. I wish I could say she's found herself a catch. But I’d be lying. Because all I feel is broken, all over again. All I feel is the flood of memories, betrayal, loss and pain come surging back. Three long months of healing, unstuck in a single photo.

I don't miss him. I don't. He hurt me. He broke my trust. And I know deep down that my life is better without him. But I miss being loved. I miss being held. I miss the person I was when I was with him - wholeheartedly happy, settled and at ease.

But how? How is he okay? How is he moving on? Just. How.

Did it not hurt him to break up with me via text and never talk to me again? Did it not hurt him to live out our holiday plans without me? Did it not hurt him to climb into a lonely bed each night, knowing it was once so full of love and life?

Maybe I just loved too much. Maybe this was meant to be. Maybe I can excuse myself for taking longer than him to be ok. Maybe I need to forgive myself for surpassing Carrie Bradshaw’s half-way mark without moving on to the next Mr Big and just pour myself another glass of wine cosmopolitan.

Because maybe it's not a competition. Maybe he's just a mover-onerer, the kind that jumps from one girlfriend to the next. And maybe that photo – and that girl – don’t mean he loved me any less.

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