Old Fashion Feminist Talks: Gender and Relationships


Being in relationship, being in community with peers who support us and mentors who challenge, is critical to a transformative feminist relationship to self and the world. One of those primary relationships is, of course, a romantic partner. In my (usually) blissful world with Adonis, I normally hurdle things like dishes, your-turn-to-scrub-the-loos, I can’t stand hanging out with Matt again kinds of problems. It’s not that I’ve forgotten the acute and crippling paralysis of the break-up bug. I just haven’t visited that particular kind of depression in several years.

Then, last night, one of my dear friends had her heart broken and thus commenced those old talkings between friends of heartbreak. “It” began: the analysis, the reliving, the questions, self-doubt, the RAGE, and the necessity to repeat questions at 3am to make sure it was fully covered, twice. And don’t forget betrayal, facade, and throw the word coward in there about three times, too.

Gender is always a fascinating topic in the traumatic world of post break-up. As my weepy friend sat in her cold, dark apartment until the wee morning hours, I did the best I could but felt myself falling short of being that empathetic person who can GO there (“there” being the daaaaaarrrrark side) in the crashing tsunamic waves of misery.

I need to be a good friend and patch her up with good ideas of self-care and healing. And so I ask, dear readers, for all your pearls of wisdom, for feedback on this famous question:

What got you through your worst break-up?
  1. #1 by blackwomenblowthetrumpet.blogspot.com on June 1, 2008 - 12:14 pm

    Hi there!

    After a break-up, I remind myself WHAT made someone fall in love with me in the first place…I don’t stew and rehearse everything that went wrong…I remember WHY I was so sought-after, so desired and I continue to value ME for the wonderfulness of ME…and that’s not egocentric …at times…it’s just merely about affirming you own specialness at a time when it’s easy to just become self-critical and self-blaming….

    Peace, blessings and DUNAMIS!
    Lisa

  2. #2 by Lady S on May 31, 2008 - 11:36 am

    Friends, friends, friends.

    People affirming that you are loved and because one person has hurt you/rejected you, you are not a worthless person.

    Finding things to do with them that are distractions.

    Time, and the distraction (of the type that affirms you! – say goals that you can reach) are the best healers, especially when supported by friends.

  3. #3 by jvansteppes on May 31, 2008 - 4:49 am

    After a week listening to Johnny Cash in the bathtub with a bottle of Southern Comfort on the ledge, I found kittens and Michael Jackson dance parties with friends to be lovely sources of solace.

  4. #4 by wakemenow on May 27, 2008 - 2:55 am

    Time. And drinking too much. Thankfully my friends were there to take my late night calls, listening patiently. One friend in particular helped in analyzing all that had transpired and was the best counselor I could hope for. But then again, that’s also what he happens to do for a living, so naturally he’s really good at it.

    I found seeing a counselor through my college to not be very helpful. In fact, I wound up seeing two different women, grad students working on their practicums, and was basically fed a bunch of feel-good crap from a textbook or pamphlet.

    So yeah, drinking and friends. And lots of time. Patience (especially with oneself) while healing. And maintaining a desire to understand what went wrong, who we were as people, while re-evaluating my values and needs, in hopes of not repeating history in the future.

  5. #5 by Anonymous on May 26, 2008 - 2:08 pm

    As Sarah j mentioned, touch. We go from being intimate all the time to not at all.

    Trying a cuddle party can be a safe place to be playful and loving again without it being sexual: http://www.cuddleparty.com/

    Adele
    http://www.abookwithoutacover.wordpress.com

  6. #6 by Katie on May 26, 2008 - 1:57 pm

    the last really nasty break up i went through, sydette told me that i was allowed to be as upset as i wanted, but not have to explain myself to anyone or deal with anyone else’s crap for a certain period of time. she said if someone expected me to, i could “brick them.” i actually wrote this piece at the time, and have since kept the link around to share with others in their time of need.

  7. #7 by Kristen on May 22, 2008 - 4:24 pm

    ::delurking::

    Silliness.

    When I went through a bad breakup many moons ago, my friends countered with random silliness. And surprise attacks so that I couldn’t find excuses not to go.

    In the course of a month, we had about 10 sleep overs; we temporarily dyed our hair numerous times; we went to the circus, the zoo, an arcade, a playground; we played monopoly for cheese doodles until 3 am every weekend; and mostly we talked…not about men or the man in question…but about our dreams, our experiences, our quirky sexual fantasies, whatever.

    It helped me to put the relationship in perspective. As a part of my life not the center.

    Hope that helps!

    ::relurking::

  8. #8 by joankelly6000 on May 22, 2008 - 4:17 pm

    Figuring out the things that made me, specifically, feel taken-care of, and then doing those things for myself as if I were a separate person dating me and trying be the best partner ever.

    In addition to helping cheer me up during sadness, it also helped throw the former boyfriend’s un-stellar-ness in stark relief, next to my being the best girlfriend I’d ever had. :-P

  9. #9 by Sara no H. on May 22, 2008 - 1:45 pm

    World of Warcraft, actually. I nearly failed out of college because I spent so much time playing, but it kept my mind off him long enough to pull myself back together.

    My second partner was very supportive also, which helped loads more than I could ever credit him for.

  10. #10 by martha on May 22, 2008 - 2:14 am

    Time. It was a terrible all consuming type relationship. I was young and he was my world. All my friends where his friends. We broke up and painfully kept being friends and fighting and sleeping with each other and then fighting some more. I eventually went away to school and made new friends who didn’t seem like they could ever replace him, it just took time. It took me realizing I that the relationship was emotionally damaging and it couldn’t continue. It also took me realizing that I was better off and happier without him in my life. I was so much more carefree without worrying about his criticisms of my every move.

  11. #11 by tothewindmills on May 21, 2008 - 5:02 pm

    I would recommend reading “Things Fall Apart” by Pema Chodron. It’s a book about how to apply Buddhism to difficult times in your life. The book encourages you to fully experience your emotions and feelings rather than deny or hide them, to accept your limited control over the situation at hand (and thereby make the most out of the aspects of life you actually do control), and then to move on from your predicament as a stronger, more balanced individual. It also teaches you about forgiveness — of yourself and of others.

    I know that all sounds like the typical lofty, new-age crap, but it’s actually a very grounded, approachable book. It helped me tremendously.

    Cheers, and good luck.

  12. #12 by Kismet on May 21, 2008 - 8:41 am

    Morning phone calls. (If you can make it to sleep) the mornings are always the worst. You dream that you are back together…you wake up in a haze kinda happy…and then CRasH. And then I wouldn’t want to get up and start living my day because it would really mean that the Crash was the reality and not the hazy happiness of the dream.

    I had a friend who called me in the mornings. I didn’t ask her to. She just did it, and I don’t know how she timed it, but she always called just before the Crash. And she just talked. Like nothing was wrong. Like it was just normal to chat at 5, 6 or 7 am about reality TV or politics or whatever else was going on.

    And then she would ask, “Are you up?” And I’d say yeah. “Are you ok?” And I’d say yeah. And she’d say, “Good. Have a good day.”

    She did this every morning for two weeks, then called me every other morning for a couple of weeks. Then every Saturday (which were really rough because not even class or work to pull me out of the Crash) until she knew I was ok enough to get up without bursting into tears.

    Ndidi Amaka Gershom Oteh, in case you randomly are reading this comment–Thanks. You’re an amazing friend.

    Other thing I guess is time. It takes so long and longer if there is drama. Being really, really patient and never assuming they should just be over it by now is good. I knew I could aways call that same friend even months later and she would be no judgement whereas other friends would end up saying (even if sympathetically), “just get over him. do something else. go out or something)” When what I really needed was empathy.

    good luck Sudy. :)

  13. #13 by Sarah J on May 20, 2008 - 8:37 pm

    Friends. Specifically, friends with a sense of humor who could make me laugh when I least expected it. I stayed at one friend’s house for a couple of days after a break-up and she kept me going.

    One horrendous break-up found me wandering at the mall and a lovely girl at the Benefit counter did my makeup, and it was oddly therapeutic. Massage, hairdressing, being touched. Being physically cared for feels really good when you’re going through that post-breakup phase of feeling really repulsive.

    My dog kept me going this time. The first night I had to sleep alone, I brought the dog in to sleep in my bed. Having something living that loved me and snuggled with me was very helpful.

    I have a stockpile of movies that have gotten me through the worst times in my life. Number one has always been The Princess Bride.

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