Which is worse: a break up or being told you have to stay home by yourself for a whole year? I had both simultaneously.
None of my usual coping mechanisms were available to me: travel, brunches, sleepovers, choir, meeting new people on Tinder and in bars. Like the rest of the world, I was in a unique situation which my generation would face likely once in a lifetime. I realized it was a time to step back and stand still, a time to talk to myself while the day-to-day chaos is muted.
The first thing I did was tell myself that my singledom is temporary. It was easy to believe “I’ll never love again!” but imagine how silly it would sound if your friend said that to you. Compare it to having a job: money is wonderful but unemployment has its perks too. You can wake up whenever you want or read in the park at midday. Similarly, I listed what I did not enjoy about my relationship such as: scheduling my appetite around mealtimes or shaving. Of course, our relationship was more than that but the list calmed me. It helped me enjoy the freedoms of singledom while it lasted.
Don’t get me wrong, grieving a relationship is an important part of moving past it. So I scheduled time for nostalgia and self-pity. Once my timer was up, I snapped back into present life. Anyone who’s dated right after a breakup might know how depressing it truly is. That’s because our emotional palate is still too tender. Instead of a fun distraction, new dates can augment any absence in our lives. My therapist said, “That’s because you’ve just eaten a sandwich that’s made you sick. This doesn’t mean that you will never want a sandwich again. It just means you don’t want one anytime soon.” Dating fresh out of a breakup is exhausting for us and unfair to the new prospects. The quarantine forced me to savour my “cooling off period.” When I finally did dip my toe into the dating pool, I was actually ready and able to enjoy new people without my ex in the mental background.
Finally, I dove into my passions and did all the things I’d been putting off. Those currently present on earth would likely never experience anything like this ever again: this was an opportunity. As soon as I found myself slipping down the abyss of Netflix, I pulled myself back up and made a list of all the things I want to accomplish from finishing my novel to learning how to paint my fingernails. I made sure to include banal things in the list too, as intentionally incorporating them into my day made time more digestible. Would I have crossed off my list had I been in a relationship? Or would I just have stressed over my partner?
Contrary to popular belief, the pandemic worked in favour of my heartbreak. It made me face my solitude and get into mental and physical shape.