How One Break Up Defined My Entire Year

by - Wednesday, January 04, 2012

I'm not sure why it's taken me so long to write this post.

Actually that's a lie. I know exactly why it's been so hard to write this post and why I've been avoiding it forever.

For me, 2011 was a bi-polar year. I had a lot of really amazing highs --

won a work award, was honored at a fancy pants gala, got my face on the cover of a magazine,

Federal Computer Week cover

smashed my half marathon PR --

but there was one heartbreaking low that really defined my whole year.

Back in May, Matt and I broke up.

To say I was completely blind-sided would be the understatement of the year.

It was a random Thursday in May. The weather was decent, I was looking forward to the weekend and glad to be home from work.

I was more than a little surprised to get home from work, open the door and see Matt standing in my living room (yes, he had a key.)

Then he said the four worst words in the world, "We need to talk." And just like that a nearly three-year relationship with the guy I thought I was going to love forever was over.

I'm pretty sure I hyperventilated as I choked on tears.

I spent the next several weeks in a numb stupor. I couldn't eat because my stomach hurt so much and I lost an absurd amount of weight in a very short time. (Don't worry it's all back now. I have tailgate season to thank for that.)

I had never been so grateful to be swamped at work because it kept me distracted. I'd hold it together on the Metro ride home and by the time I got to my front door I was sobbing again.

It was a long summer.

I was grateful for my friends who dreamed up crazy things for us to do to keep me busy and get me out of the house (Backstreet Boys concert anyone?).

BSB concert

I was grateful for my softball team and our post-game margaritas.


I was grateful for days at the beach and I was happy to be outside in the sunshine.

Still running took a major back seat.

I didn't have the energy or the motivation for distance running. I embraced shorter distances and the mental clarity that came with them. (In light of what you know now, this post probably makes a lot more sense.)

I ran with family. Tried to run for the fun of it. In the process I managed to set a new 5K PR.


When fall rolled around, I started to feel like my old self again.

Tailgate season helped. Being surrounded by friends helped.

tailgate friends

And like the cliche says, "Time heals all wounds."

And yes, time really helped.

It's been almost 8 months now and I'm definitely in a better place than I was back then. There are still days when I'm sad for what I lost and miss the way things were, but those days are fewer and farther between.

In many ways, this singular event defined 2011 for me. And I don't mean that in a bad way.

Yes at the time it truly sucked more than anything in the world, but since then I have grown so much and learned so much about myself and what I ultimately want out of life.

I know I'm strong enough to stand on my own two feet. I have a job I love that I'm pretty good at. And I have the best damn friends a girl could ask for.

I'm lucky to have it as good as I do.

So while 2011 was an emotionally hard year, I'm trying to take the lessons I learned and use them to pave the way for a kick ass 2012.

You May Also Like


  1. I had assumed this... since you stopped mentioning him periodically. I know it's never easy! I'm glad you had friends and family to lean on. While this did define 2011, it mostly did so because you found yourself and your strength to stand on your own!

  2. My 2011 was incredibly similar, although it was the end of a 7-year relationship. I know what you've gone through, but I'm still waiting for the "time heals" part to kick in. Thanks for sharing this and reminding me that my occasional bad days will become rarer as time goes on.

  3. Echoing what Katherine said. I lost a 7 year relationship at the end of 2010 and 2011 was hard. But I changed so incredibly much! I ended up meeting someone who is a million times better than the ex. It is amazing how much can change in a year.

  4. Anonymous5:13 PM

    It's funny how much you can change after a breakup... usually for the better though because you find out more about yourself than you could've ever imagined.

    Are you going to be playing softball again this year? I was wondering what league you went through, I would like to play this summer although I'm sure I'm awful since I haven't played since high school... I won't even say how long ago that was =|

  5. Anonymous8:16 PM

    Sounds like your year had a mix of emotions, however you sound like you are more confident and stronger. Best wishes in 2012.

  6. Anonymous4:43 AM

    You know, I didn't even notice it until MegaNerd wrote her dating stories (before she totally disappeared from the internets) and talked about a hook up with your name there. It was like, "hold on, isn't she dating someone?"

    I'm not sure why you didn't write it here -- we would have given you support, but then again, we all deal with things in a different way. Either way, yay for being in a better place and for moving on -- break ups are some hard stuff, I've been that sobbing girl before too. But the best part about a break up? If it happens that means he was not for you, and now you can finally meet the guy who will truly make you happy (and will never blind side you with bad news!). Here's for a happy 2012!

  7. I had that same kind of year a few years back. Sucked, but I am a much better (stronger) person now.

    Thanks for sharing your story. Wishing you all the best in 2012!

  8. I really hate that it happened like that. Nothing can be more shocking and throw you for a loop for so long than an unexpected end to a long term relationship.

    Your real friends will always support you in whatever life throws your way. We're here for you both when it's good and when it stinks. Most older people have been through that or worse, so don't hesitate to talk to us old folks about it. <3

  9. I'm impressed with how you handled it! Also, I'm impressed with the bravery it took to write this post.

  10. Anonymous10:55 AM

    Great post! I ended a 2.5 year relationship in Summer 2010, and it took a long time to say I was past it (I would say not until...Summer 2011), but now I am so much more fiercely independent and have accomplished so much on my own since the breakup in all areas of my life that I'm very proud of. I can relate to how you feel! And no one is perfect (I still talk to my ex a fair bit, something I still need to work on) but it's all about healing over time and concentrating on what you've done so far to heal which you are def doing!

  11. Ah every girl has that one, defining, heart-breaking break-up. I had mine in 2008, when I ended a 6 yr relationship. Although it was my choice to end it, it some ways it was even more difficult. I went pinballed between feeling immense regret and then drinking my sorrows away at happy hour, thinking that I had let that 'one person' slip thru my fingers.

    After a string of unhealthy flings, I finally picked myself back up... I ended up moving to Spain where I pursued an international MBA degree. While I was there I met someone who made all the pain worth it. Now we are living together in Holland and I am SO happy.

    It will come for you! Thank you for sharing your story.

  12. thank you for sharing this, very inspiring and eye opening. I too had a breakup earlier this year and just recently started dating again. The pain from the past has not completely disappeared but time truly is healing. Best of luck to you girlie!

  13. Found this post through Katy Widrick!

    So sorry to hear of this.. but I can totally relate to everything you are going through.

    My 2008 was much like your 2011. After being heartbroken and bitter about the way my 3 year relationship ended, I don't even think I left my college dorm room for a week. I didn't go to class. I didn't go to work. I said I was very sick. (I just didnt tell them I was love sick.)

    I missed out on a lot of events my senior year.. tried to take it in stride.. but couldn't do everything. I didn't feel right. When I started graduate school 7 months later.. I finally felt like I had a new opportunity. Things were totally different. I was living for ME.. and no one else. I had no one to call every night. I got to develop my personal self worth .. that wasn't defined as part of someone else.

    it was a trying, but also freeing experience. And I love that you have had the same one.

    Here's to 2012.. where you will grow and find out even more about who you are :)

  14. Wishing you a better 2012! I couldn't imagine going through that, even though I've broken it off before but only after a much shorter time. It was still hard!

    But you seem to have accomplished a lot in spite of that, and you are very strong!

  15. You just described my 2006. I'm glad to hear that you're starting 2012 on an upswing! May this year bring you even more amazing things.

  16. I saw this on Katy Wildrick's blog and, wow, we had really similar months in May 2011. My fiancee broke up with me quite unexpectedly about 3 months before our wedding. I had to move out of his house and re-start my life quite suddenly.

    It's interesting to hear you write about how doing long runs was difficult for you. I felt the same way, I also had trouble doing bikram yoga as it doesn't use music and I felt like it was too much time with my own thoughts.

  17. Anonymous2:37 PM

    Aww, tears. I came over from Katy's blog and just read your story. I'm sorry that you had such a tough 2011. It sounds like you're doing much better now. I hope that 2012 is defined by a much more positive experience and brings you all of the good things you should have in your life!

  18. I almost cried reading this because I'm sort of going through it now. Although I was the one that ended it back in September after almost a year, I'm still sort of going through the break-upee symptoms because it was one of those situations where he basically made me end it (and we've had a lot of annoying back-and-forth since). It's never easy and I'm really glad to see that you've crossed the "time heals all wounds" part and hope I'll be right behind you soon.

    And just think: 2012 will be amazing.

  19. I am so sorry to hear this. I am glad to hear that you are in a better place now. Just make sure not to hold onto the why or the anger, it will not help. That was my biggest issue when I broke up with my ex. Once I forgave him (in my mind), my life was much happier.

    This will be a great year for you!

  20. Sorry to hear this Jess.

    Like many others who have already commented, a similar thing happened to me back in 2002. And while it was a rough year, I ultimately came out of it in a better place and a happier person. It's tough, but it sounds like you've got a great support system of friends and family to help you through the tough times.

    I have a feeling 2012 is going to be a great year for you!

  21. 2012 is going to be an AMAZING year! I'm coming to cheer you and Nate on in your first sprint-tri :) also, we will party with our crazy fun family at Kenny + Nikki's wedding!