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From Breakup to Breakthrough: Finding the Life Lessons In Lost Love

  • 9 min read

My first “relationship” was a total mess.  We stayed together for about a month and the “breakup” screwed me up for at least 6.

When it was over, I blamed her for every exaggerated emotion I went through. Because when you looked at the facts, I thought , it’s clear she should’ve at least taken off her sharp heels before stomping all over my angsty adolescent heart.

My boy logic was infallible: If a girl treats you that way, that means she’s a b-word and you should’ve known better.

Never once did I consider that maybe her behavior might have been influenced by me not understanding her needs in the relationship.  Or by the fact that we were just two 16-year old kids who didn’t have a clue what we were looking for and thought liking someone enough to exchange bodily fluids with them would somehow be the only requirement.

Not that much earlier, I dated another girl. And the pattern of both interactions were so similar it’s downright creepy.  They even had sex with the same guy after breaking up with me (without knowing each other). And I was being just as much of a d-word to both of them afterwards, trying to make them feel guilty without even knowing I was doing it.  A month later I probably wrote completely interchangeable “break-up songs” that blamed them for everything and contained no trace of self-reflection whatsoever.

Yesterday I was talking with an ex-girlfriend who I’m still good friends with (the fact that I didn’t blame her for all my shortcomings may have helped) and she mentioned someone she became attracted to after we broke up.  She had felt it right off the bat when she met the guy. But when she actually got to know him, she was surprised to discover he was exactly like me in a lot of ways.  Except that he didn’t have the qualities in me that she didn’t desire.

I had to chuckle because this made a lot of sense to me.  I felt like I knew why they met.  It reminded me of one of the many amazing things relationships can do for the people in it.

… you guessed it right!  I’m talking about oral sex.

Lots of it.

Seriously though.  I’m talking about the fact that every relationship you get into (whether’s a friendship, a one night stand or a full-on marriage) holds at least one significant lesson for you that you need to learn at that stage in your life.

When you first enter the relationship it’s hard to tell yet what the lesson is going to be. You’re both still under the spell of the other person working their magic on you. And you spend your days in a carefree, euphoric state, mostly fu.. I’m sorry, cuddling, like rabbits or staring into each other pupils until you see yourself in them and wave at your reflection in their eyes like a moron. (I hope I’m not the only person who does that.)

But once you’re together for a while and it starts to get more serious, things become a bit more challenging and messy.  All of a sudden you are confronted with the fact that intertwining your lives is not just a process that takes care of itself.

A relationship is a lot like sitting in a car with 2 drivers and 2 steering wheels. Learning to communicate and function well together is not just a luxury, it’s a necessity.  Especially if you have a bunch of kids in the back seat. You gotta learn to steer that thing together, or you’ll drive your little backseat accidents right into a backseat accident.

And while you’re learning to do this, the relationship will scratch open old wounds that you didn’t even know you still had. It will confront you with your own shortcomings on every level. It will take your shit, throw it in your face and tell you to fucking deal with it already.

If this sounds like a horrible thing to you. Don’t worry, it’s not. It’s a great thing.

Not only does the relationship urge you to work on yourself. It also blesses the both of you with the support from a loving partner so that you don’t have to deal with this alone. And it gives you some added motivation. Because you are no longer just doing it for yourself, you know that handling your issues will affect the people you love the most in a positive way as well (a great example would be fixing your financial situation because you know your kids will need food, and it’s no longer just about you).

But there’s a catch…

If you refuse to take this lesson. If you walk away from another fight or another break-up without learning what you should’ve learned, you will manifest the same lesson again somewhere else.  And you will have to go through all the pain and frustration again. Same break-up song, different girl (or boy).  Only when you passed this “relationship exam”, your soul will be ready to move on to the next stage.

An example of that would be the woman (or man) who gets into one abusive relationship after the other, going through the same unfortunate cycle over and over. Until she learns to heal from past experiences and raise her self-esteem to the point where she doesn’t attract such relationships anymore.

But there are less obvious situations as well:

The man who is mad at his wife because her behavior makes him unhappy. Who keeps hating her for years after the break-up for “what she did to him”, not realizing the lesson he needs to learn is that he needs to take responsibility for his own happiness first instead of assigning someone else to that task. Because otherwise he’ll unknowingly behave like an emotional vampire towards all his partners, sucking up their happiness slowly but surely until they don’t have a lot left to give to him anymore, repeating the cycle all over again.

Now these are all huge lessons (at least they should be) that are pretty much the overarching theme in those relationships.  Lessons that luckily, not everyone needs to go through.

But besides that, there’s lots of smaller lessons in every relationship as well, that will be repeated until you finally start to adjust your behavior. Like when every fight you and your partner have is actually a lesson in disguise for you to become a better listener, to take on a more proactive stance in life (Honey, did you take out the trash?), or to stop spending your mortgage money on hookers and heroine.

Sometimes the lesson are so subtle (when they don’t cause any direct trouble) that you really need to pay attention to notice them.  For example, I noticed that when I’m going through a phase where I’m saddened or frustrated by the society we live in, I have a tendency to treat the company of women like a “womb”, a safe environment where I feel perfectly at ease. When I should actually sever the proverbial umbilical cord to go out and face my demons outside.

Now that I’m aware of that trap, I can embrace the lesson and gain a great deal of personal growth because I know that whenever I feel like that, I need to move outside, not in.

There’s lots of other lessons to be learned for me as well here (and I’m blessed with a girlfriend who actively confronts me with them, thank you for that!).

Now, the question you need to ask yourself -whether you’re in a relationship or not- is:

“What is my current lesson? What is love teaching me right now?”

Even though they’re not always obvious to see, there always is at least one.

What are some recurring patterns you can identify in your current or past (lack of) relationships?

If you can’t seem to find any, here’s a neat little short-cut:

Write 10 different endings to the following sentence as fast as you can:

The trouble with (wo)men is….
The trouble with (wo)men is….
The trouble with (wo)men is….
The trouble with (wo)men is….
The trouble with (wo)men is….
The trouble with (wo)men is….
The trouble with (wo)men is….
The trouble with (wo)men is….
The trouble with (wo)men is….
The trouble with (wo)men is….

I promise you that if you’re willing to challenge what you wrote and flip it around so that you’re the one responsible, you’ll find a gold mine for personal growth.

I know some people believe that all men are fuckboys who think with their crotch and that all women are cold hard bitches that can’t keep their labia together. But if you find yourself believing that, consider this:

If there is a distinct problematic pattern you encounter every time you get involved with someone, would the problem really lay with just about every member of the opposite sex?  Even when other people manage to have normal, happy relationships?  Think again 😉  What about your behavior could have attracted, or at least contributed to these situations?

Because as long as you fail to learn the lesson, the next relationship will pose the exact same problem.  Good luck at creating a happy love life for yourself that way.

The most beautiful thing about it, is that on the other side of each of those challenges, there is a hidden lesson for your partner as well.  Which means that if you can be patient with them and provide them with your loving, encouraging presence, you’ll have the honor to watch them grow as a person simultaneously. And if the love and commitment are strong enough, you can continue to repeat these cycles and watch each other heal and grow for the rest of your lives.

We don’t just attract each other for no reason.  People come into our lives to teach us something and we come into theirs to do the same.  If it doesn’t work out, they may even leave us to teach us the same thing as well.

It may feel unsettling to imagine a permanent future together with someone one day, only to crash and burn a few years later. But don’t regret it. Everything you went through was exactly what you needed at that point in time.

And any time you invested believing in that future together, was never wasted. Because at the very least, it brought you one step closer to discovering what you want.

And one step closer to who you need to become in order to give and receive love in the best way possible.

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