Other people who have experienced break-ups have had similar moments to the ones I’m about to discuss. These moments are simultaneously great and terrible; to be honest, the feelings they induce are difficult to explain. You suddenly have this uncontrollable urge and you have no choice but to give into it. I’m sure there exists a scientific name coupled with a psychoanalysis that explains why it happens. But, I call them “Wonder Woman Moments” for two reasons. First, in that moment, after months of feeling helpless, you finally feel in control of your own life. Sure, it’s just another emotion that’s controlling you, but for once in a long time, it’s a feeling that at least has some positivity. Second, everything is better with a superhero name.
I’ve already discussed the importance of ridding your environment of memory triggers. What I haven’t discussed is that getting rid of every possible memory trigger is impossible. After my break-up, there were a few things that I either couldn’t bear to part with or that I didn’t think to hide from myself; this all plays into our resistance to change.
And from that weakness and oversight, the Wonder Woman Moments are born. A friend told me about his experience with this kind of moment. Months after his break-up, he was driving somewhere with a family member. He reached into the middle console to find something and inadvertently discovered the birthday card his ex had given him earlier that year. Immediately, he had the uncontrollable urge: He had to get rid of it, and he had to do it right then. And so with the comment that he had something he had to do immediately, he did just that. He pulled his car over and threw it in the most immediate trashcan. The moment I’m talking about looks like this:
I had two of these moments. I can’t remember which moment came first, as this all happened months ago. But, I believe the toothbrush moment was the first. It was probably about three months after the break-up. I had started a new job and like most hygienic people, I brush my teeth two to three times daily. This means that I saw the Asshole’s toothbrush in my toothbrush holder two or three times a day when I reached for my own; and every day I disregarded it. I couldn’t bring myself to throw it out; I think I still had some shred of hope that we’d get back together and he’d need his toothbrush at my place. But one day, something changed. I was getting ready for work like I had every work day for two months. As I reached for my toothbrush, something happened: I picked it up and threw it away. I don’t remember much thought going into it; looking back, I’m not convinced ANY thought went into it. I remember it as an involuntary action, like breathing or blinking. But, my god, it felt good. For the first time in months, I felt a flutter of something in my chest. It was excitement over what was to come.
My second experience involved the 3 foot tall nutcracker I mentioned previously. If you don’t remember it, I very briefly mentioned it in “The Interwebs.” This action was more of a (excuse my language) “FUCK YOU” moment. I think it’s important that I mention that I know that no one is perfect. Everyone makes mistakes, including me; as a matter of fact, I make a lot of mistakes. There were parts of the relationship that weren’t perfect because of me. But every “Asshole” and “FUCK YOU” that I give him is completely warranted and I’ll explain that in later posts. Anyways, one day, while cleaning my room, I realized that the toy, a thoughtful gift he had given me our first Christmas together, was still in my room. So, I swiftly picked it up and carried it to what had become the “I-can’t-throw-it-away-yet-even-though-I-hate-him” storage room. As you’ll see from the picture below, the poor soldier had been through quite a bit. It had been toppled over countless times, shattered, and then been very poorly glued back together since it was sentimental and I didn’t want to throw it out.
As I went to put it in the storage room, it yet again got toppled over (I’m clumsy, okay?). This time the soldier was beheaded. My dad happened to be standing there and stared at it. I looked at him, literally said, “Fuck this,” picked up both pieces, and walked down to our trashcan outside. And I didn’t nicely set the soldier in the trashcan; I dunked it in a fashion that would have caused Michael Jordan to glow with pride. This is EXACTLY what I looked like… except I’m not in that kind of shape, the basketball was a broken 3 foot tall nutcracker, and the hoop was a trashcan.
Okay, so it wasn’t like that at all, but that’s how I choose to remember it. But the feeling I got as I walked away from the trashcan was different than the ones I experienced after the toothbrush moment; it was sadness and regret. I knew that my action meant something, I just wasn’t sure what it meant in that moment.
What I’ve realized over time is that what both mine and my friend’s moments have in common is that they were milestones towards our acceptance of the end of our relationships; it is through moments like these that one either comes to understand that the relationship is over, or is on the way to to that knowledge. At the time, we’re just not entirely sure what the moments mean because we still have shreds of hope. The brain is a funny organ; it takes months of telling yourself that it’s over to actually believe it. What’s really funny is that during the time after a break up, if these people came back and said they loved us just once, we’d believe them instantly.