A low point from June 22, 1998…
Dear Breakup Girl,
I moved 2000 miles to live with “the love of my life.” Once I got there, he broke up with me. I was stranded, broke, and alone. It was hell. I am now back home with my parents, trying to move on. But I am haunted by questions of “why” and “how.” Last night, I talked to him, and the same subject came up as to why I’m “not his type” — not attractive enough, not thin enough. I accept the relationship is over, but now I have the leftover feeling that I was dumped because I’m unattractive. I’m now terrified of meeting anyone, because I fear it will just happen again. And now my self-esteem is zilch, since I see myself as fat and unappealing. (Especially since I have gained about 15 pounds since the breakup, and I just took my exam to be a registered dietician! I feel like such a failure.) How do I go on and repair this damage? Will I forever hear him in my head saying that I am unattractive and not thin enough? I feel like our whole society is obsessed with looks. On TV, on the radio, and in my relationships, that’s all I see. It just makes me want to hide away forever. Please, can you help me see things differently?
1. “The subject ‘came up.’” Above and beyond the weight issue, the major breakup lesson here — and I’ve said this before — is Do Not Hound Your Ex for a Reason “Why.” I am not saying they’re Right or that you’re not deserving of some sort of “explanation.” But what actually happens when you try to pin the WHY? thing down? Either they will not be able to explain in a satisfying manner (nature of the beast), which will frustrate both of you even more, or you will drive them to say something THAT YOU DO NOT WANT TO HEAR. Worst of all, in most cases, you probably already know what that thing is. BG does not endorse self-flagellating, masochistic self-torture.
2. “…the leftover feeling that I was dumped because I’m unattractive … I fear it will happen again.” I’m sorry, but you would have this fear no matter how much you weigh. Breakups are not known as self-esteem boosters for anyone. This, Crushed, is Basic Breakup Feeling. It’s Relationship History Mad-Libs. “I feel that I was dumped because of [NEGATIVE TRAIT]. I fear that this will happen again next time.” In your case, though, it’s magnified, because, as you couldn’t help but notice, everyone else (i.e. TV, radio, etc. — though I will note that that’s the first time I’ve heard “radio” branded as a standard-setter for physical beauty) is “telling” you you’re unattractive too. Which, I know, doesn’t help.
3. “Can you help me see things differently?” Well, I hope I’ve given you a little perspective, but it’s your new job that’s really going to make a difference. It does seem ironic, but you’re not a “failure.” Assuming you’re not getting your dietician degree from, say, MTV’s Beach Party, dieticians are, ideally, the folks who know all about helping people maintain a lifestyle and nutritional plan and weight that they’re comfortable with. They know about helping people spot and safety-catch the triggers that make them do things like gain 15 pounds after a breakup (the pounds aren’t the problem — it’s the reason why they’re there). That’s the good news. And I’m pretty sure you’ll be just fine. Even at the broadest level, starting a new vocation should help give you a new post-breakup lease on life and love. But I just have one niggling concern. When, and why — really — did you sign up for this dietician thing? Remember what BG said about self-flagellating, masochistic self-torture.