The other side of a breakup

It sucks just as much for us, breaking up with you

artist Christina Angelina

Culturally-speaking,

Heartbreak is the privilege of the person who’s broken up with, as though “broken-hearted” is a badge only they can wear.

The person doing the breaking up is vilified — made out to be some cruel, heartless monster who goes around ripping other people’s souls out and crushing them. And that’s just not the case.

I know that it’s hard to be rejected. It’s shitty as fuck being the one who’s left, and it sucks feeling as though you don’t have control.

But there’s also a difficulty in doing the leaving, too. In being the one who has to make a difficult decision that fundamentally has to be binary: yes or no.

Breaking up with someone is even worse than firing someone.

And firing someone is widely regarded as one of the worst parts of being a manager.

Anybody who thinks otherwise has never had to do it. Nobody with any amount of sanity likes firing people — or dumping them.

Because this isn’t just firing somebody. It’s like firing your right-hand man. It’s firing your VIP, your cofounder, the VP to your P (you being the VP to theirs.) On top of that, it’s like firing your best friend; your plus-one; your one and only. It’s looking at the person you probably cared most about, and maybe even cares about you, and saying to them “I’m out.” And there is no enjoyment in doing that for you.

Because you invest in people, you build rapport and trust. And most importantly, you fucking wanted it to work.

We were invested, too

That’s the thing I think people fail to realize — we wanted it, too. This ain’t nonchalant for us.

We hired you for a job just as much as you hired us for yours, and we both wanted this shit to gel. What happens is that it never did. Or the job changes and expands and you don’t grow with it. And if you don’t grow, neither can we.

And maybe now you’re reeling and waiting on us to change our minds? Boi, we spent time together waiting on you to change, too.

One of us had to do something and make a decision, and it became increasingly obvious it wasn’t going to be you.

We suffered, too

We will suffer as a result of the breakup, but we also suffered leading up to it. One might even argue we suffered more in the relationship than you did, given that it was us — not you — who ended it.

And so, we sort of suffer twice, first at the hands of the relationship and then again in our own.

A breakup frames feelings as “absolute” when they are anything but

Everything is anything but black and white. It’s all shades of fucking gray. But a breakup makes it all finite, which is part of why it leaves some of us reeling, “what the fuck just happened?”

I think if we really look, we both fucking know.

Things sort of weren’t working, and then things weren’t good. And then they got worse, and they weren’t getting any better, and maybe you were trying, maybe we were both trying, or, let’s be real fucking honest, maybe we were both kind of not.

But either way, it wasn’t getting any better and after a while one of you has to make a decision, now don’t you? You have to do something or go on living like that forever, and sometimes that something is “leaving.” And here, “leaving” means leaving me or leaving you.

But in the words of Robert Kinkaid,

“Don’t kid yourself, Francesca: you are anything but a simple woman.”

And this was anything but a simple choice.

We have to stand behind the decision

And we have to be strong for you and us both.

The person being left can reel and blame the other person and wonder “but what if?” The person doing the breaking up doesn’t have that luxury. You don’t have space to feel emotions. You don’t have space to express them. You don’t have space to do anything except rationalize and re-remind yourself the reasons why.

Because the only worse thing you can do than break up with someone is break up with them and then share your emotions but not change your mind.

Because you’re expected to back these things. You have to stand your ground or else be seen as a complete fuck-up; someone who toys with people; someone who doesn’t know what she wants; someone stringing someone out.

Also Robert Kinkaid:

“I don’t want to say goodbye right now. We don’t have to make that decision. Maybe you’ll change your mind. Maybe we’ll see each other and you’ll change your mind.”

To which Francesca cries,

“If that happens, you have to decide. Because I can’t.”

Because shit is hard as fuck, yo. It’s heartbreak through and through for us, too.

The exception

…to all of this, of course, is when someone is toxic AF. Because fuck those guys.

Walking from someone who’s shitty still isn’t fun, but firing someone who lies, cheats, steals, etc. certainly doesn’t carry the complexity of having to fire your VIP.

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