Scott De Buitléir writes about what it means, and how difficult it can be, to move on.
“People tell you to let go and move on, but no-one seems to be able to tell you how. It’s hardly like I’m holding onto these feelings for my own good!”
The tone in my voice was probably one of anger as I snapped at a friend I hadn’t seen in months. The anger wasn’t directed at her at all, but I was lashing out nonetheless, like some wounded animal. I was angry because of the pain.
It had been a few months since the guy I had been seeing broke up with me by phone. Usually, that doesn’t sound like the nicest way to end a relationship, but with around a hundred miles between us on that fateful night, we didn’t have a choice. I was able to tell from the moment I picked up the phone that the relationship was finished, and that much of it was my fault. I had major trust issues, thanks to being messed around too often by past experiences. While it wasn’t fair to project those negative experiences onto him, he didn’t bother to reassure me too much when I was worried. In some ways, looking back, we weren’t well suited to each other at all. Regardless, I found it hard to forget him.
My friend eyed me with a look of pity; not the type of pity that can be condescending, but the compassionate, warm kind. She wasn’t the one from whom I could get a decent, logical answer to my question, though. She had similar issues when it came to men, but we had both realised at around the same time that the men we fell in love with were not right for us. Our princes were yet to come.
Soon after the break-up I started dating someone else, and that provided enough distraction for a few months until I was ready to move home. When I returned to Dublin my world fell apart for a while. I was glad to be home after what I saw as a career disaster in Belfast (which I left as soon as I could) but the joy of being back home was short lived. A tragic death in the family meant that many hearts were broken, making previous worries seem pointless, yet adding to their weight at the same time.
The low spirits remained in the family home for about two months, thanks to delays from police, the autopsy and the funeral directors. During that time, I was dealing with looking after a broken-hearted mother as well my own dark depression and emotional burnout from being ‘up North’. It was then that a certain ex came back into my head, and it almost felt as if I never got over him at all. Why was I thinking about him, all of a sudden? The one answer that I could come up with was that being with him was the last time I was content in my life, but I knew I was looking back on that time with rose-tinted glasses. There were too many flaws in the relationship by the time it ended. It didn’t work out for good reason. And yet, I couldn’t get him out of my head.
Eventually, the funeral took place and the dark cloud that hung over my family’s home moved away slowly but surely. I began to come back to myself, as well. The emotional burnout from Belfast was gradually passing, although moving home meant that I was presented with the new challenge of finding work – again. While looking for work was one of the causes to depression, it was no longer looking impossible, and I also made sure with the few Euro I had to catch up with friends.
Recently, I had a relationships counsellor appear as an ‘Agony Uncle’ on my radio show, and one of the letters sent in was asking how to get over an ex. I smiled to myself, noting the coincidence as I read out the listener’s question, and the counsellor basically explained that the key was to distract yourself with friends and activities. The following Saturday, I went on a hike with friends around the Wicklow mountains, laughed over dinner, and watched a film in the open air by one of the capital’s canals. I had one of the nicest days in quite some time with some brilliant friends, and not once did any ex come into my head.
I had finally figured out the key to moving on – but only after I had moved on myself.
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