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From the Vault: My First Breakup and Reignition for Writing Poetry

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at CU Boulder chapter.

This article was written almost half a year ago, but was never published. Now I’m finally ready to share this experience.

Picture this: there’s a girl who’s just been dumped by her boyfriend for the first time. There wasn’t a ton of anger or spite between either of them; things were just different and heading in a different direction. The girl is lying on her mom’s bed, sobbing, eating ice cream, then repeating the process. This lasts for maybe a week or so before she gets up and starts to move on. 

Now imagine me: a young girl, watching movies with characters similar to this girl, and thinking that they’re so dramatic. It was just a breakup, not the end of the world. No one died. My whole childhood I thought that I would be able to escape the feelings and grief of a first breakup. I would make it so there wasn’t any pain on either side. I would make it so we would be friends after. I would make it so everything was right.

Little did younger me know that I was completely wrong, in every way. 

A couple months ago, I got out of my very first “real” relationship (I’m not counting the 6th-grade hug-only relationship). Right before the breakup, I thought that I was on top of it and that I was going to make this the best possible situation for both of us. 

Turns out that’s not how it works. Pain, sadness, and grief around the relationship that I willingly ended was immediately prevalent, from the moment I said I wanted to break up. Things didn’t work out because I wasn’t happy and didn’t think that staying in the relationship would make me any happier (which is already a terrifying realization to make). There was no bad blood; in fact, I held my feelings in and pretended that things were fine for so long that when I realized I wanted to break up with him, I did it the very next day. It felt like a wave crashing: once I knew, I couldn’t convince myself to go back. My first thought after doing it, however, was holy shit. Did I make the right decision? Can I take this back, or is this it?

From there it was a spiral of emotions. I was crying all day, every day for about a week. I went home that weekend, having many conversations with my mom on her bed, eating ice cream. Thinking that things were going to end up “okay” in the end truly served as my demise. The breakup didn’t go as planned (it never would have worked out like how I had it in my head) and unlike the fictional girl, I was not over it in a week. I felt more confused and more concerned about my decision. Now I was lonely, with nothing to fill the space that he had held for me for so long. 

During this time of grief, I picked up writing poetry again. I used to write all the time and participated in Escapril, a challenge where you would write a poem every day in April. As life happened and I got busier, however, poetry fell to the wayside. 

The first poem I wrote was before the breakup happened, telling my true and honest feelings about the relationship. Months later, I look back at this piece to remember why the relationship ended, why it wouldn’t work even if I wanted to get back together. Even so, I was “gaslighting” myself during the most difficult times of healing, thinking that I didn’t actually mean what I wrote. The only thing that came out of that situation was more resentment towards myself.

I continued to write poems when a thought or emotion was so strong that I had no other healthy way to cope with it. Some titles include “Read my mind,” “Burning,” and “I just want to start again,” all clearly portraying different themes of how I was feeling. “Read my mind” was about wanting someone else to figure out my own thoughts, “Burning” was about my eyes hurting after I’ve cried, and “I just want to start again” was about wanting to restart the entire relationship over again. 

I learned through writing poetry about my breakup that healing is not linear, something I once thought to be true. The week after I stopped crying every day I went an entire week barely thinking about the relationship and not crying at all. Once the weekend set in, once I was by myself with nothing to do, it all came back and it felt like I was back to square two (nothing was as bad as square one). I’d think I’d be over it, then the next night I’d be crying over my phone, a message typed out to him and ready to send. Despite all the hardship—all the urge—something always stopped me from reaching out. Something in me knew that nothing would change, no matter the reality I tried to construct for myself. That’s when I would turn to a blank document and write exactly what I wanted to say and exactly how I wanted it to happen, followed by my anger that it couldn’t.

I wouldn’t wish a first breakup on my worst enemy, although almost every single person is bound to go through one. I’m endlessly grateful for the support I had throughout the past couple months amidst getting through something I never thought could be so emotional. Having a hobby like poetry was the perfect thing to fall back into, and it’s a reminder of everything I felt during the healing process. I’ve always considered writing to be more my “main” language than talking ever has been; it’s shown me how to convey my emotions in a healthy yet brutally honest way. 

Lastly, I’m proud of myself. There were many upon many times I could’ve cracked and texted him or met up with him, but I didn’t (which even surprises me sometimes to think back at). I’m one of the most strong willed people I know, for better or worse, and I ultimately knew deep down what was best for me. 

At one point I remember asking my mom, “Is it enough reason to break up with someone if the only thing wrong is that you’re not happy?” to which she laughed and said, “Honey, that’s the main reason to break up with someone.” 

Slowly but surely I’m learning.

Content written by various anonymous CU Boulder writers