Breaking Up Made Me More Independent

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woman with widespread arms on the beach
How one woman's breakup proved to be a major turning point for her self-confidence.

Monday was my birthday. I turned 28. That would have sounded old to me when I was in college or even as recently as when I was 26. Today, it sounds perfect—young, in fact, and exactly where I want to be. During lunch on my birthday, I took a walk near Central Park and got to thinking about how much my outlook has changed and the route that got me here. The Frisky: 5 Kinda Lame Things Single Women Do That Are Actually Fun

Two years ago this June, my whole world turned upside down. During the course of a few weeks, my boyfriend of over three years broke up with me, I had to find a new apartment (a result of the breakup), and I started my first full-time job in New York City. Since I'd allowed my world to revolve around him, I had very few friends in the city. The friends I did have were so amazing that it still makes me cry in gratitude; nonetheless, this was a breakup of ugly proportions—one that involved a lease, money, each other's families and the kind of shattered expectations that led to deep bouts of pessimism, sadness, fear and nostalgia. The Frisky: How To Make Friends (And Keep 'Em) Post-College

 

I spent the first two days after he left unshowered and unable to eat. I felt embarrassed, unstable and alone. Not sure where he was, I must have paced among our pictures, books and shared condiments for hours on end. Then, finally, I made up my mind to take a shower. Maybe it sounds silly that a shower was my big accomplishment for the evening, but it was, and letting myself be OK with that was the first step to progress. The Frisky: Who Gets What In A Breakup?

The next step was eating. Egg salad was my cuisine of choice. I don't even like egg salad, but for some reason (a need for protein and fat?) that's all my body craved. So, egg salad it was for lunch and dinner almost every day. (On a positive note, I am now an expert on where to find the best egg salad sandwiches in Midtown Manhattan, if anyone needs a recommendation.) Nourished, I was able to work—and do a good job at that. When I felt like sobbing, I let myself go outside and cry. When I was done, I put on my professional face and went back to my desk. I started crashing at my friends' apartments and tried to stop thinking of our Manhattan apartment as home. When my ex finally contacted me, I told him I refused to live there any longer among our ghosts. He'd figured (without asking me, which enraged me) that he would be the one to move out and I would stay. I told him no. It was one of the best and most important decisions I've ever made. In the end, we both left. I went to Brooklyn, and I'm not sure where he went. The Frisky: MERRIme, A New Web Comedy About Online Dating

Before the move, I took a trip home to Ohio. My flight was early, so when I slithered into a cab to LaGuardia, it was still dark. I was contemplative and exhausted from all the crying. Then, almost as if on cue, the cab driver—without a "hello" or even looking at me in the mirror—said in a thick accent, "Life is full of challenges." The timing and way he said it were so absurdly dead-on that I felt like I was in a David Lynch movie. I was also remarkably touched.  He was silent the rest of the trip; I left him a massive tip.