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But How Are You Really?

November 23, 2016 by

“Hi. How are you?”
“I’m good thanks. You?”
“Yeah, not bad ta.”

I hate small talk. Every time I find myself having a conversation like the one above, I cringe a little.

We get asked how we are several times a day and yet we’d never dream of telling people how we really feel.

Sarah’s feeling miserable after her second divorce. But she’s okay.

Tom’s suffering from depression and has struggled to sleep for the last two months. But he’s doing fine, thanks.

Louise is being bullied at work and she’s finding it hard to get a new job. But she’s never been better!

Every time someone’s asked me how I am over the last few weeks, my reply’s been the same as it always has been: “I’m okay, thanks. You?”

But, post break up, how am I really? Sure, I’m doing better now than I was a few weeks ago but there are still moments where I feel like my heart’s going to explode and my brain’s going to erupt like a volcano. I’m finding this really hard.

*

On Monday I went on a second date to see the film Arrival. There was a conversation in the film that I still can’t stop thinking about. Please ignore the text in italics below if you want to see the film and are really sensitive to spoilers. It went a little something like this…

“If you could see your life from start to finish would you change anything?”
“I’d maybe tell more people how I feel.”

A few weeks ago, as I packed up my belongings and began to gradually move back in with my parents, I told Jake I wished I’d never sent him a message on the online dating site that brought us together. I told him I wished we’d never met. I told him I hated him. I told him I hoped he’d get hurt in a serious (but non fatal) accident. But, as I sat in front of the big screen watching Arrival, I asked myself whether I’d really go back and ‘unmeet’ him.

I don’t think I would. I didn’t mean the things I said. And I’m pretty sure I don’t want him to be involved in an accident. Unless we’re talking about standing barefoot on an upturned plug or piece of Lego every day for the next 10 years. I would like that to happen very much.

*

When my date and I left the cinema, he asked if I fancied getting a drink. Inspired by the quotes from the film we’d just seen, I decided to tell him how I felt: “I’m going to go home. I don’t feel like there’s a spark between us. I’m sorry.”

He seemed surprised at my honesty. He said it was refreshing to be told on the spot. It was preferable to being ghosted or coldly rejected by text a couple of days later. He walked with me to the tram stop and we continued to talk about our feelings and stuff. It felt strange to talk about these things with a complete stranger. He and I both knew we’d never see or speak to one another again.

*

On my way home from the cinema I found myself questioning what exactly it is that I want. I wanted to forget about Jake and find someone else… someone better. But the date I’d just been on made me miss him even more than I did before.

I started crying on the tram. I got off a stop early so I could walk the rest of the way home in the dark with the rain lashing down on my hair and tears streaming down my face. With my favourite White Lies songs blasting through my headphones, I felt like I was in a depressing music video. Oddly, it was kinda therapeutic.

I already had another date booked with someone else for Thursday. Don’t judge me. But after my unsuccessful second date to the cinema, I spent hours thinking about how desperate people are to show they’re ‘okay’ after a bad break up. We’re told to move on and find happiness again. We’re encouraged to show our exes what they’re missing. We’re meant to prove we’re better off without them. We’re meant to pretend they were crap in bed and they never satisfied us. I’m looking at you Little Mix. We’re supposed to be strong and inspirational. We’re told to delete every trace of them from our digital lives as if they never existed.

To get over one person, we get under another. We go on the rebound and replace them with someone else. Heaven forbid spending some time alone!

We’re so desperate to portray this idea that we’re doing okay that we bottle things up and keep our true feelings to ourselves. I don’t want to do this. I want to tell people how I feel. And I feel rubbish!

*

This morning I texted the guy I was meant to be meeting on Thursday. I decided to cancel. Rather than faking an illness or a hectic workload, I told him the truth: “I’m not over my last relationship and need to spend time on my own rather than dating.”

He thanked me for being upfront with him. Not many people are this upfront and that’s why people get hurt, he said. I agreed with him.

I deactivated my online dating accounts and deleted the apps off my phone. As cliche and cheesy as this is going to sound, I need to work on being the best version of myself before I can find someone new.

I need to reignite the love I have for blogging before I love another person.

I need to remember all the things I was passionate about before this break up and get back to chasing my dreams.

I need to be Leslie Knope before I can find my Ben Wyatt!

I had a bit of a silly daydream this morning that made me smile on the tram. I pictured myself buying my own place and relaxing on the sofa at the end of a busy day. I imagined pouring myself a whiskey and coke before downloading a bunch of dating apps. I imagined working so hard on my blog that some of my matches on Tinder and OK Cupid recognised me from my photos. How cool would it be if I opened a message that said: “I recognise you! I’ve seen your blog and I think it’s great!”

It would sure beat the usual: “Hi. How are you?”

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  • Kathryn Houldcroft

    Really honest post and your line about Leslie Knope really made me smile (!). I saw Arrival a couple of weeks ago and it really affected me too – as a parent I found some parts of it almost unbearable and I’m not sure I could have made the same decisions. Ironically, I think it posed some really human questions and definitely left me with a lot to think about. Take care 🙂

  • Bill

    Thank you for candidness

  • Such a beautifully written post. I am sorry you are going through this, I remember how terrible I felt when my boyfriend cheated,

  • Kezzie

    Well written! I’m sorry you are feeling crap! I totally understand what you mean about being honest and well done for doing that! You will feel crap for a while, possibly a long while. I remember breaking up with my only other boyfriend I had before my husband and I felt crap for ages!