What Storybooks Won’t Teach You

July 13, 2012

in Relationships


Last week I did a face plant into a box of tissues. When I could cry no more, I slowly removed my head from the sodden box, carefully opening my red, swollen eyes. I was amazed by several things I observed:

  • The world had not ended in my absence.
  • My appetite had indeed returned.
  • I was able to sleep.
  • Deep breaths were possible again.

Putting all these observations together, I recognized I survived a break up. I also realized that no matter how long we stayed together, I would have never experienced a storybook ending with him. “The end” was right for us. We could have never achieved “happily ever after.” There were too many red flags, different priorities, outlook on life, and more. I found I was worrying more about the future than enjoying the present, but I held on with all the niggling worries because I was in pursuit of “happily ever after.” I loved him and would make it work.

But then we broke up.

What I realized from this break up is if you are fearful of endings, you ultimately sacrifice much more than a few days with your face in a box of tissues post-break up. I now know you give up a lot of who you are, compromise what you want in life, and in a partner when you try to force fit the wrong relationship for you. While there were a lot of positive experiences in my last relationship and I loved him, that’s not enough to achieve a storybook ending.

The storybooks never teach you the most important lesson:

Love alone is never enough.


Kimberly July 13, 2012 at 12:36 pm

Ah, these words, they speaketh to my heart: if you are fearful of endings, you ultimately sacrifice much more than a few days with your face in a box of tissues post-break up

I tend to have TOO MUCH of an exit strategy. I’m out before I even get in.

I’m working on it because I get the wisdom I quoted above.
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Naked Girl in a Dress July 13, 2012 at 12:39 pm

Kimberly~ Maybe we could help each other because I NEVER have an exit strategy. Somewhere in the middle lies the best course of action.

Eric July 13, 2012 at 12:46 pm

I spent way too much time in two relationships (one a marriage) for fear of the ending. It did cost more than a box of tissues. It cost years of my life wasted – though you could argue that finally learning a lesson was not a waste – big things I wanted to accomplish when much younger have never been accomplished. I’m trying to get to those things now, but I will never get back the time I used up on two people when I should have been using it on myself.

Luckily, I have now found a balance between time for me and time for others (most days) and I’m happier for it.

And things are getting done.
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Naked Girl in a Dress July 13, 2012 at 1:00 pm

Thank you for this comment Eric. Your point–that time is also wasted–isn’t something I mentioned, but it is important to remember that aspect as well.

Nicole July 13, 2012 at 12:49 pm

Endings inevitably lead to new beginnings, and that’s why they are valuable. But I think there are endings that we don’t recognize, even in relationships that carry on. But For example, Geekface and I no longer have those marathon stretches of sacrificing sleep to stay on the phone (or, other things hehe) all night, of sending each other pages and pages of emails all day, or even always looking our 100% best all the time. But the ending of that phase gave way to a new beginning of us: one in which we are both unshowered for a few days and don’t really care; one in which we share the tales of our day when we get home, and not in “real-time” emails, and one in which sometimes comforting the other who is down or under the weather is more important than sexy-time.

What’s most important is that you recognized the ending. You saw it, and you didn’t fight it for very long. And that means you’ll have a new beginning now. To quote the incredibly wise Dory of Finding Nemo, “You can’t never let anything happen to him. Then nothing would ever happen to him. Not much fun for little Harpo.”

Good things are coming your way. :-)
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Naked Girl in a Dress July 13, 2012 at 1:04 pm

Thank you Nicole. I wrote of my divorce as a new beginning and I know this is a new beginning as well. I just hope the next time I am in a relationship I am not fearful of “the end.” That I learned this lesson now. I will then make better choices for myself.

That’s great advice from Dory and something for me to remember. I have to have these experiences–not avoid them.

Colleen July 13, 2012 at 5:39 pm

I don’t do the ‘exit strategy’ thing, either. I’d rather live and love…you know how that all goes. I find myself these days, though, in a position where I find it hard to trust the good things I *do* find. Not because I’m fearful, but because I’ve just had so much CRAP, you know?
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Naked Girl in a Dress July 16, 2012 at 10:41 am

I do know Colleen. I hope to trust my heart again, but know there are times my heart can’t be the only guide. Best of luck to you–loosen up your armor and try to trust. It will be worth it.

stilllearning2b July 14, 2012 at 8:20 am

My biggest fear was always losing my husband. I assumed, if it happened, it would be to death. It turned out to be because of bigamy. The tsunami divorce turned out to be a blessing, for now I am able to love more in the moment rather than be afraid for may come to pass. Endings are painful, but there is a lesson in every one.
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Naked Girl in a Dress July 16, 2012 at 10:43 am

There is a lesson in each one. And from the pain you realize your resilience, which is a wonderful thing to recognize. It makes you less fearful.

Alice Koko May 7, 2013 at 4:03 pm

I remember thinking of that dreadful word when my inside voice was telling me there is no happily ever after in this place, but I fought it off saying I will make it work. I hung to idea that I can fix anything. Depression, abuse,wasted time and nerves where I was only one in the marriage.
It took me years to get eye opening and see who is that men next to me. It took much courage to escape bondage I let myself to be trapped in.
I still don`t understand how I did it,but I am free and I love myself for it. Since the fateful day,its been long recovery journey. I fell many times while grasping freedom and self-improving. Maybe I should have had trust issues so I don`t let people get close to me so easily? Probably,would have been a good stopper, but its not me,forgive and forget and move forward. Sincere lover, same like abused Pit Bulls who will hug and lick you to death even when they been tortured by other of your kind.
If being honest,I think I would have never reached my full potential if I had not made the choice to be by myself. Struggles and hardship in my “American Dream” version,has led to be the best and happiest I have ever been! I truly appreciate the bad people in my life, as they show me who I don`t want to be and stand strong and tall for my beliefs and morals.
I applaud everyone who has stepped out of the bondage of dysfunctional relationship, because that`s the only way to start loving yourself!
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Naked Girl in a Dress May 8, 2013 at 7:06 am

I am so sorry you had this experience, Alice. That said, the state of your happiness now is in part because of the sadness you have known. You can grasp on and appreciate your happy life more now, knowing what it could still be. That is the way I look at life and it’s challenges.

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