A Man I Loved Broke Up With Me Via Email — Just Before Our Global Pandemic
By Jennifer Power Scott
Photo © contento/Twenty20
Apr 23, 2020
As I relaxed in my brown leatherette recliner and merrily nibbled on a dessert one evening in early March, I had no idea a bomb was about to drop on my life.
That bomb came in the form of a terse, six-line email from the man I loved.
“We had a relationship in name only,” he wrote. “I am moving on with my life and whatever time I have left on this Earth. Please respect my decision.”
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And just like that, the shrapnel hit my heart.
I had spent four years adoring this person, admiring him across the room at Christmas parties, getting misty when I looked at pictures of him, confiding in him, leaning on him, longing for him. When I closed my eyes and rested my head on his shoulder, I felt safe and protected.
I knew that no matter what happened in my life, I could survive with him by my side.
Then, one little email blew my foolish fantasy to bits. And I sat there, silent as stone, feeling as though a cold metal claw was raking its way down the inside of my chest.
It’s hard to tell that story — so hard that the prospect of looking at that email again has kept me awake at night.
But I’m writing this because I know I’m not the only Canadian mom going through relationship loss in the age of COVID-19. While we’re living with our heartbreaks, we also have to be soothing and steady for our kids as they adapt to life in isolation. For us, crumbling under pressure is not an option.
Mothers have always had to be some of the strongest people in the world. In this pandemic, we’re freakin’ superheroes for our families.
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After the email
The week after the breakup, I struggled with sleeplessness, a perpetually dry mouth and a strange numbness in my hands and feet. My hair seemed a little thinner, my waist a little smaller, my skin a little paler. Sometimes, at five in the morning, I cried as quietly as I could.
But as a wise woman kept telling me: no man is worth all that.
I knew I had to find my way back. And I resolved to fight like hell to turn my Unbreak My Heart into my I Will Survive.
In our new culture of physical isolation, the lovelorn can’t turn to the usual sources of comfort. You can’t book an appointment for a fabulous post-breakup hairdo. You can’t dress up and go out for a wild night in the club. You can’t invite a girlfriend over and cry on her shoulder. You can’t even visit your mother.
How I got my groove back
In the beginning, it helped to drive alone in my Charger, blast hard rock and possibly even yell a few swear words at the windshield. I was never an AC/DC fan, but Back in Black suddenly felt like a power anthem for this seriously pissed off middle-aged woman in a leather jacket.
One day, when my two teenaged daughters were out, I positioned a couple of pieces of penne rigate on a cutting board and smashed them to smithereens with a rolling pin.
You should have seen that starchy dust fly.
Pasta violence and curse words aside, I eat well — even when I can’t really taste the food. I try to get eight hours of sleep every night. I shower, brush my hair and do my makeup. Because looking good on the outside can make even the most tattered insides feel a whole lot prettier.
"You can’t book an appointment for a fabulous post-breakup hairdo."
I also chat with friends online. And what wonderful friends they are. I only hope I can repay the patience, kindness and affection they have shown me in the last month. They have taught me how important it is to reach out to good people in difficult times.
And when life kinda sucks, I have to find a laugh wherever I can. I like to imagine calling up Paul Simon and singing the new verse I wrote for 50 Ways To Leave Your Lover:
Just shoot an email, Cale
Send her a text, Rex
No need to drive, Clive
Just do it virtually
And I dance. Oh, how I dance. I crank up the Bee Gees in my bedroom and do my best Travolta-esque moves. Suddenly, all those dazzling endorphins turn the light on in my eyes — and I remember that the world is a beautiful, colourful, shiny place that I would like to experience for another 50 years.
Coming back in isolation
In the quieter moments of self-isolation, I reflect on what went wrong in the past and figure out what needs to change.
For one thing, I see now that Mr. Email was rarely happy with me. He wore his misery like a black velvet cloak. (Floor length, and hooded.)
In a pre-pandemic world, I put up with his funereal tone because I loved him. But when the world is normal again, I’ll insist on something better — even if "better" is the single life.
“You know,” I said to my daughter Rose, “I have decided that I will never again stay with someone who is consistently miserable in my company.”
"But when the world is normal again, I’ll insist on something better — even if 'better' is the single life."
“Well,” she said, forcefully and slowly clapping her hands: “IT’S ABOUT TIME!””
In that moment, I realized I was learning from my own child. She saw things that I had failed to see. She was wise at 13.
The real loves of my life are my two precious daughters. And in a world full of profound suffering and loss, my family is incredibly fortunate to have a safe home, good food, our health and so much laughter.
Heartbreak? Oh, that’s so last month. And as for that email, I think it’s time to hit delete.