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What it's like going through a breakup during the pandemic

When you willingly give your heart to someone, odds are it's going to hurt like hell when it's broken.

What it's like going through a breakup during the pandemic
broken heart hanging on wire
Photo by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash

Breakups suck.

There's really no sophisticated way to phrase it. When you willingly give your heart to someone, odds are it's going to hurt like hell when it's broken. Add a global pandemic and self-isolation into the mix, and the injury provides a more profound sensation.


Unfortunately, that is the dilemma I'm currently undergoing. To provide some insight into my situation, I had been dating my former boyfriend on-and-off for almost five years. We began dating when Obama was still in office, so it's been a minute. Within that time we experienced a lot with each other, resulting in an intense emotional bond two people often develop after undergoing years of life experience together.

He was my person for a lack of a better phrase.

After breaking up two years ago, we eventually found our way back to one another, only to discover we had grown into different people who no longer wanted the same things. He wanted children and I wanted to focus on my career. There was also the added stress of residing in two, separate cities, (I was in New York, he was in D.C.) with no plans on him relocating anytime soon.

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Being in an interracial relationship was never issue for my boyfriend and me. Then Trump became president, and as much as we like to pretend otherwise, our world drastically changed.

With that being said, the arguments became more frequent, resulting in a mutual agreement to "consciously uncouple." But regardless of the decision being mutual, it nevertheless stings. When your partner doesn't choose to grow with you, or support your ambitions, there's a different kind of heartbreak that accompanies the current pain.

However, navigating a breakup during a pandemic, along with a recent move to a new city, hits differently. It's a tender pain, often met with waves of unexpected emotion. It can be triggered by a song, scene in a movie, or even a familiar scent. For me, it's the faint smell of my ex's cologne, still lingering on my pillows long after they've been laundered.

Experiencing a breakup during a pandemic is even more difficult because you don't have the customary distractions. You can't go out with your girlfriends for a night of much-needed debauchery, or escape for a vacation like one would before the pandemic. Reeling from a breakup amidst Covid adds an extra layer of intensity because you're forced to face the emotions head on.

You can't distance yourself from the reality of the situation you're in. But maybe that's not such a bad thing.

Before Covid, I was so busy living my life, I would often forget to check-in with my mental and emotional health. With a plethora of distractions to keep me occupied, it was easy to neglect the internal turmoil I sometimes experienced. When my ex and me got back together, I was intent on making our relationship work I began putting his needs before my own. But in doing so, I started hating myself, which ultimately led to me resenting my partner.

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What comes to mind when you think about love?

I was transforming into someone I swore I wouldn't. It's heartbreaking how we sacrifice so much of ourselves for the people we love without realizing it. So, the only thing I could do was let go before I risked becoming someone I no longer recognized.

My main priority now is myself and that's the relationship I'm intent on working on. I wake up every morning and utter at least two affirmations out loud. After that, I devote twenty minutes of my morning to yoga before logging on for work. I have date nights with myself each week, where I'll cook an elaborate meal from the New York Times Cooking section, which is sometimes almost edible.

I also carve time out of my day to read a book or watch a film that is somehow beneficial to my emotional growth. At the moment, I'm currently reading Untamed by Glennon Doyle and watching Unorthodox and Daughters of Destiny on Netflix. In addition, I take walks around my neighborhood and occasionally treat myself to brunch or dinner. With the uptick in Covid cases surrounding New York, even those little excursions are becoming risky.

Some days are easier than others. No matter how hard I try occupying my time, there are moments when the heartache is simply too painful to bear. That's expected considering the circumstances. But when that happens, I retreat to a little breathing exercise I learned in my virtual yoga class. I take a deep breath and count to five, then exhale while counting to seven. I repeat this exercise five times, often envisioning myself on beach in the Maldives with Harry Styles.

I take pleasure in the little things, such as a freshly-brewed cup of coffee, pumpkin spiced candles, and warm bubble baths with eucalyptus oil and a tall glass of red. I try living in the moment and being present. Instead of viewing this time as a sad installment in my life, I'm referring to it as a new and exciting chapter. Most importantly, I prioritize my mental and emotional wellbeing and try not to stress the little things. I remind myself I gave my relationship my all, and even if it didn't work out, that's ok.

I'm learning how to bask in my loneliness. I welcome the emotions with open arms. Sometimes I cry. Scratch that. I cry ALL THE TIME. You could fill a swimming pool with the amount of tears I've cried. But it feels amazing once I'm finished. It's almost like emotional detox; purging myself of all the suppressed feelings. I know this mourning phase will eventually subside. I'm certain of this not because I'm optimistic, but because I have to be ok. The alternative is not an option for me.

With every struggle I've been through, I've always picked myself and emerged stronger. This time is no different.

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