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