I hate coffee. But that’s not why it’s like break-ups.
I recently went through a break-up and it was, among other things, an incredible learning experience. I wasn’t going to write about it, but people have been encouraged by some things I’ve learned so I decided to share.
I used to have this idealized view of dating and breaking up and felt that you should always try to marry your best friend. In my head, even if the relationship didn’t work out, you guys would just go back to being best friends.
But then it happened to me and the Category-Ex hurricane of awkwardness came and I realized that life is not that simple. I grieved, journaled, and peeled layer after layer of bitterness, hurt, confusion, and a laundry list of emotions I didn’t even know I had. I even went through a phase of sweet revenge daydreams set to Drake’s “How ‘Bout Now?” lyrics. Which was unexpected, cathartic, but thankfully short-lived.
Along the way I was told that you know you’ve healed from something when you can see the person in the grocery store and not try to avoid them. As heart-wrenchingly humbling as that process was, I waded my way through and found healing on the other side. But I found myself struggling with something a lot simpler.
Because we were best friends first, I felt like there was a unique obligation to do damage control, like we had to check up on each other and rebuild the friendship to what it was before the relationship. But I really didn’t want to. So this one question kept gnawing at my mind:
Is it okay if I never talk to my ex again?
I’m not bitter—I can genuinely say that I pray all the best for her and I can celebrate her successes. And it’s not that I’m afraid of the awkwardness—anyone who knows me can attest to that. But there was something off and I couldn’t articulate it until a wise friend of mine finally put it into black and white terms for me.
Imagine that you’re making yourself a cup of coffe—again, you’re making the coffee, because you already know how I feel about it—and you decide halfway that you want to add some cream. So you put in the cream, you’re good to go, you lift the mug to your lips, and then you remember that you’re lactose intolerant. What do you do? There’s no way of unmixing what’s already been mixed. The only thing left for you to do is to either take the risk and drink it anyway or just throw it away.
My friend went on to say that in a relationship, you mix your emotions like coffee and cream. When that relationship doesn’t work out, there’s no way of unmixing them. It’ll be virtually impossible to go back to that person without those emotions eventually getting stirred up again. The only logical thing to do is to toss the relationship and move on.
And I was freed.
It’s okay to not be okay and it’s okay to not finish your coffee sometimes. In the end, I still believe that you should always marry your best friend, but your best friend isn’t always the person you should marry.
Life is messy. Not every cup of coffee gets drunk, not every creamer gets used, and not every relationship works out. But we have to be okay with dumping a few cups here and there before we finally find our cup of tea.