Breakups and breaking the habit

“Nearly three years ago I gave up smoking – a habit that had started in my teens to impress and keep up with my peers, it had become something that I wasn’t enjoying, but kept doing anyway.

Initially after giving up, my hands felt empty.

It was weird not to smoke with my glass of wine and my day was no longer punctuated by cigarette breaks.

So I stopped going to bars and clubs.

After a week or so, I had a cigarette on a night out, and when ‘peer pressure’ looked at me with “see I told you so” pretentious, know-it-all attitude, I suddenly felt silly.

It felt odd not to be holding a cigarette in my hand, and it suddenly hit me that there would be many more nights like it.

It would feel odd and uncomfortable now, but in time, not smoking would be normal.
I’d smoked for far longer than I hadn’t (in clubbing years), so it was bound to be difficult.

But the bigger picture was that I wanted to give up.


I recognized that if I didn’t give up now, I’d only end up giving up again and feeling the same initial withdrawals, so I might as well resist it NOW.

So I swallowed my discomfort and made it through that evening.

And once I realized I could get through that evening, other social occasions stopped seeming like a test in willpower.

I clearly remember that after three weeks, it stopped feeling like a major effort and started to feel normal.

I wasn’t Joe who had given up smoking and is trying to resist the urge – I was just Joe.”

Like the cigarette, it feels odd not to have your day punctuated with a relationship, even if it wasn’t a great one.

The more the habits become part of your routine, the harder they become to break.

My friend was telling me about her recent breakup after a three year relationship, and it almost broke my heart too to see how things changed for her overnight.

Nobody warns us when we embark on a relationship that the end of it is going to take us by surprise.

Breakups are painful.

When you break up with someone you also break up with yourself, and all the tiny habits that end up putting together your days and your nights.

Not easy.

I know.

So I gave my grieving friend this example: let’s say that the ice-cream man is promoting the flavor of the day: the best chocolate ice-cream on the face of this planet, made of the finest cocoa beans and pure, sweet cream.

But you only like fruit sorbet. And he only has chocolate today. What good could the decadent chocolate ice-cream do you now?

It is fine to let the pain take its toll.

But like breaking the smoking habit, don’t let it overstay.

Relationships are a two-way street.

If your partner falls out of love or decides to move out of the relationship, don’t weep over him or her.

You can’t force a cube into a round hole, can you?

So please don’t let the happy memories over-romanticize it and play it all nostalgic on you, slowly rolling you up like a little ball of melancholia, and sending you on a downward spiral.

I know that ends suck, but balance and equilibrium in dating are an aphrodisiac.

There is nothing sexier than being wanted by your partner as much as you want him or her.

I know that nothing is permanent in life; people sometimes don’t have the guts to speak their mind; people change and forget to tell you; the closest people let you down.

Sometimes it is not even their fault. Sometimes you just sublimate your longing/need for love and throw it on someone who actually didn’t ask for such responsibility.

It’s the concept of crystallization writers penned about in the past- the projective idealization with which we tend to see the object of our love, dipping their humanity in our non-realistic, romanticized versions of reality.

This said, when you’re uncertain about your partner and feel that he or she has changed… when a hideous feeling starts to creep in… raise the red flag.

Uncertainty is a major cause of insomnia.

And as I said before, I am not a fan of self-loathing.

I love myself more than anything.

I refuse to give anyone the privilege of controlling my sleeping patterns.

On the other end of the spectrum (yes, there is always a bright side!), uncertainty forces you to trust your inner voice.

So trust your intuition.

When your partner seems like he or she has changed, move out and move on.

And tonight, make sure you’ll get your beauty sleep, beautiful creatures!

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