By Lewis Gagnon
Over the course of my life I’ve had to go through the grieving process on several occasions, especially because of love. I have given far too much without ever receiving much in return. When you give your love to someone and they pull the rug out from under you, it hurts! I’ve tried many ways to get over my heartache, including denial, anger, and sadness, ending up at acceptance.
I’ve carried out a major retrospective of my relationships. That’s helped me understand how I experienced my relationships and my breakups.
What really got me through the toughest times was music. It’s a way for me to understand what I’m not able to say in words. If a song affects me a lot, it’s because the message that it conveys can be applied to my own life. Songs are, for an artist, a way to express their emotions; and for those who listen, to know that they’re not alone in how they feel.
The Beginning of the End
It all began with my first major relationship. I’d just come out of the closet and engaged in my first homosexual relationship. He cheated on me. We broke up a few months later. Six hours after our breakup he was already with somebody else. They always say that the first breakup is rough, and I didn’t escape that.
I started to drink to deal with my suffering. Every evening after school I lay in bed and drank vodka like it was water, listening over and over to the song One and Only by Adele. I lost 20 pounds because I’d stopped eating. I was getting stressed over nothing, which only suppressed my appetite more.
It took me three years to get over that breakup. I looked nonstop for someone who could get me to forget that pain deep inside my soul. Someone criticized me for letting men into my life without being ready to welcome and receive them, for playing with others for my own personal interest. That person was right. It was a wakeup call, a slap in the face. It got me to realize what I was putting other people through.
With time, I realized that I was going nowhere. I had to take a break and focus on myself. I had to take the time to heal before launching into a new relationship.
I was questioning myself too much – and, above all, I was questioning love. I was afraid of seeing someone else and getting our relationship to work; investing in a relationship only to risk getting hurt again. I was stuck in a box with walls so high that I didn’t feel human, I couldn’t feel anything anymore. I decided to stop wanting, and looking for, a love relationship. I put myself in first place. I started taking care of my body and my spirit.
The Poisoned Apple
After spending over two years off the dating market, I started a relationship that lasted about two years. That breakup was particular for me. It happened at the beginning of the pandemic. I had to live with the pandemic as well as the end of a relationship. I didn’t expect that at all. The news stabbed at me, like a long dagger that enters gently through your heart. Music was especially helpful in getting me through that heartbreak. That was the “healthiest” heartbreak I’ve ever gone through.
Since it was at the very beginning of the confinement, I wasn’t working. I couldn’t see anyone. I had to face my sorrow; I couldn’t turn away. I think that was the best thing that could have happened to me in the context. I had no other choice than to go through the process. That breakup was the one that caused me the most pain. The worst thing was that he had been “perfectly wrong” for me (think of the Shawn Mendes song). The relationship had worked well, but we both knew that it couldn’t go one for ever. Someone close to me told me that it wasn’t a case of “let’s see if it will last,” but “when will it end.”
It’s difficult to hear what everyone actually thought of the relationship after it’s over. It helped me to see that the relationship was far from perfect, and that the end was inevitable.
This emotional heartbreak got me to understand the principle of self-forgiveness. Sam Smith’s album Love Goes led me to realize several things about love and breakups. I have to forgive myself for the fact that the relationship is over and I can’t change a thing. I have to forgive myself for what I said, what I didn’t say and what I can no longer say. The only thing left for me is to go forward.
I understand now that I lost a lot of time feeling heartsick. But I hadn’t had the strength to forgive myself. I have to accept that it wasn’t the story that was written for me. It was easy to accuse others for denying their responsibility in the process. It didn’t help for me to move on to the next relationship, nor did it help my personal growth.
Two years after that breakup, I ended up accepting my mistakes, and I forgave myself. It wasn’t an easy road!
I haven’t finished rebuilding myself after all the damage I’ve suffered from those relationships. I don’t think I’ll ever be fully healed. You just can’t give these things the power to affect you. I also learned that I did everything to please my partners. I changed who I was to be good enough for them, so that they would love me more.
Despite the highs and the lows, there was love in those relationships. I wouldn’t change a thing in them: they allowed me to grow. I’ll finish this testimony with the words of my favorite singer, Fletcher: “Goodbye forever, until next time.”
– As seen in Reflet de Société, Vol. 30, No. 4, April 2022