Learning to breathe: Harder than I thought

After a few weeks of learning how to breathe, I’ve realized it’s harder than I thought it would be.

When I started going to counseling, I was on a roll. Journaling, deep breathing and visualizations, yoga, daily positives, and other relaxing activities worked for me.


I learned about the thought process, how to recognize thought distortions (negative thoughts), and I’m currently in the process of challenging those negative thoughts. This involves debating with myself either on paper or in my head to help turn those thoughts into more realistic ones.

Since I started counseling, I am aware that situations themselves don’t cause my negative feelings; it’s the thoughts I have in reaction to those situations. However, a situation recently arose that gave me negative thoughts. I forgot how to breathe.

What situation caused my negative thoughts? My ex (*Bobby, the one who inspired many a blog post, and some of the back-story can be found here) sent me an email on Sunday. Here is what he wrote:

“Hi Becky,

Sorry I did not respond to your email last month. I know I’ve hurt you and I am so sorry. I haven’t been a very good person for a while and I deserve what I got.

Anyway I hope you are doing okay, thinking of you,


Yes, I had sent him an email. On Valentine’s Day to be exact.

Source: imgflip.com
Source: imgflip.com

Why, you ask? I had gone on a double date that night. With the breakup (and anger) still fresh in my mind, and since it was before counseling (where I learned how to cope), I was overwhelmed.

The date was fun, don’t get me wrong. But that First Date after a breakup when I know I’m going on a date too soon always leaves me looking like this (after the date of course):

Source: becuo.com
Source: becuo.com

Going on a Valentine’s Day date, while fun, wasn’t the best decision for my emotional state at the time. If I had already been learning to breathe, I could have maybe had more will power to stop myself. But I couldn’t. I was irrationally angry. I sent an email to Bobby:

“I wish you had told me you didn’t love me.”

That was all I wrote. I’m not quite sure what I meant by it. It’s a possibility I meant that I wish he’d been honest, because in my mind, cheating does not equal love.

After my poor decision to email Bobby, he sent no reply. I was okay with that (honestly). I began counseling shortly after, and I dived right into the process of coping and relieving my anxiety. My negative thoughts no longer tormented me as often.

Until Bobby’s email on Sunday. When I read it, I was shaking. I couldn’t believe he had the nerve to write back as if he was so emotionally removed from the situation. As if he was being the bigger person and “checking in” to see that I was okay.

I didn’t reply. I found ways to distract my thinking, and for a while, it worked.


However, that was short-lived. Oops.

On Wednesday, after a night out with friends, my negative thoughts got the best of me. I forgot how to breathe. I forgot how to push the thoughts aside. I sent Bobby a reply.

Source: goodreads.com
Source: goodreads.com

Sure, it would have been preferable to continue ignoring his email. But since I decided to reply, I could at least be civil, right?

Source: memeaddicts.com
Source: memeaddicts.com

My reply was, to put it lightly, harsh and to-the-point:

“I don’t know how you sleep at night. Guess there’s always that one person who has no morals and he doesn’t care about anything but his dick.

Good thing I avoided wasting one more second on a diseased pig.”

Source: galleryhip.com
Source: galleryhip.com

Not my proudest moment in life.

What have I learned from all of this, besides not to send angry emails?

I’ve learned that I still have a lot to learn. I’ve learned that it’s okay to be angry. However, I’ve finally (FINALLY, I think) realized that acting on my thoughts and feelings will not help me. So far, acting on my negative thoughts and emotions has only hurt me more. When I sent Bobby that email, it did nothing to relieve my anger. It only made me angrier, irrationally so.

Learning to breathe is a slow process. Making relaxation and realistic thoughts a habit takes time. Sometimes I’ve grown impatient, hoping that I could snap my fingers and be “over it.” But that’s not how breakups work. It takes work to cope with the process in a healthy way. I’ve had some bumps along the way. I’ve made poor decisions because I reverted back to my ways of acting on my negative thoughts. In the future, I have to learn to take a step back. I have to breathe.

*Name has been changed 


  1. For what it’s worth, your healing process sounds totally normal. It’s so frustrating when the very person you need to avoid decides to “check in” as if a couple handfuls of words can invalidate your hurt and put the responsibility on you to forgive – that’s a bullshit expectation because you’re right – you can’t just wave a magic wand and be better. You are absolutely right – it takes WORK.

    Good luck with everything – you’re doing great.

    1. Thank you so much. That means a lot. šŸ™‚ I agree that it’s frustrating when the person I’m moving on from, the one who caused a lot of the anxiety I’m in counseling for in the first place, decides to check in. Healing is a long process, but I feel like I’ve been dealing with it in a much healthier way than I could have been.

  2. I hope I never get an angry email from you, Miss Becky!

    All kidding aside, you have been doing very well. We all need to vent every now and again. You can’t keep things bottled up, or you will explode.

    Figuratively speaking, of course. We can’t have you literally exploding. I won’t allow it!

    1. Don’t worry, I won’t be sending you any angry emails! These are incredibly rare. I only send emails like this when someone deserves an angry email.

      I agree that venting can help sometimes. For me, it’s all about moderation. I try not to vent too much, and I’m learning a lot of ways to distract myself. I don’t want to explode either!

      1. And it’s happening again. You might as well be hear talking to me i person given how much we communicate over the course of a day!

      2. I could see you as a Girl Scout selling cookies. You know, since you’re so into baking cookies and all… šŸ˜›

  3. What your feeling is completely normal my dear, I can remember going on a night out two weeks after the end of an eight year relationship. There I was forcing myself to have a good time, busting some moves and fuzzy headed from one too many tequilas. All of a sudden, somehow this guys tounge was in my mouth, what happened next still makes me cringe…. I cried. In his mouth. And then procedded to scream at this poor bloke through my sobs “I’m not ready, im just not ready” so there you go although looking back you may think that your double date on Valentine’s day was in hindsight a mistake but from my experience the “I’m just not ready” experience I had enabled me to feel something, whereas before all I felt was numb. It’s so important to embrace what we are feeling, if we don’t embrace the moments we are low how will we appreciate our moments of happiness?

    1. Thank you, I’m glad to know that what I’m feeling is normal. Thank you for sharing your story. That reminds me of an episode of Sex and the City in which one of the characters cries in a guy’s mouth while on a date after a breakup.

      I’m sorry that you went through that, but you’re completely right that we sometimes need those situations to help us feel something. At times, we don’t know if we’re ready to date again until we go out on a date and feel depressed about it. I would have done the same thing you did after going on a date with someone after a breakup from someone I dated for eight years. And I thought two years was a long time.

      It sounds like your perspective is helping you to move on in the right way. We have to embrace our low points because otherwise we won’t appreciate the good times. šŸ™‚

  4. It sounds like you are picking up on cognitive behaviour therapy well. The writing it down part helped me a lot in the beginning. Don’t worry about slip ups like angry emails. They happen. We are only human.

    1. Thank you, I do feel like I’ve been doing a good job with it so far. My counselor said I’ve been doing well because even before we covered the topic of challenging the negative thoughts, I’d already started to challenge my thoughts in my journaling. So I feel like it just takes lots of practice.

      I’m glad that I’m able to get to a point where I’m accepting my mistakes. Like you said, they happen, and it’s okay. šŸ™‚

  5. This is such a tough, painful situation. In my own experience, the simplest and most profound truths are the ones that are hardest to live. I know that nothing anyone else says or does to me matters as much to my well-being as what I say and do myself. I know that I should pause and breathe and focus on the next right thing for me to do, but so often I focus on other people and other situations–anything outside myself. I allow myself to be drawn away from what I know I should do, and it’s tempting to go back to reproaching myself and falling into self-contempt. But the only thing to do is get back on the path. To keep breathing. And I’m sure you will.

    1. Thank you for your comment. I totally agree that what other people say or do doesn’t matter to our well-being. It’s our thoughts on the situations that happen to us that affect our feelings and behaviors.

      I have to focus on breathing, also. It seems like when I take the time to do that and focus on challenging my negative thoughts, I have healthier and more realistic thoughts and feelings. It’s a constant process every day, but we can do it!

  6. Can I give you a book recommendation? I’m reading this book for university, it’s called “Emotions Revealed. Understanding Faces and Feelings” by Paul Ekman.
    I think you may like it šŸ™‚

  7. Okay, I’m probably spamming your notifications and I’m sorry, but I’m having a blast reading your posts! You are a fantastic writer! Everything reads so smoothly making this so much fun! Reading about what you’ve had to go through with Bobby isn’t fun, but moving. I can feel your emotions shift when reading this. Your post ends with a “lesson learned” vibe which I love. And your photos in the post crack me up! I’m so happy you found my blog and commented, because thats how I found you!

    1. Thank you so much! And don’t worry, you’re not spamming my comments! You can feel free to comment as much as you’d like. šŸ™‚

      I’m so glad to hear that you’re enjoying reading my blog. While the posts about Bobby were about him being mean, writing those posts was incredibly therapeutic for me. I feel like I’m learning a lot about myself in this breakup process.

      I’m so glad to have found your blog as well! Thank you again for your comments! šŸ™‚

    1. Thank you so much! I agree that it’s important to learn how to try to change our thinking. I know in the past, it was hard to be more positive while going through difficult times. Now it seems like it’s easier to cope when I know I can change my thinking.

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