My Mom Says You Shouldn't Be Sad over a Boy for More Than 7 Days


By Christine Odea

It’s the first week of my first break up, so my feelings could not be more real or raw. And I’ve found that it is moments like this when some of my best writing comes out. Consider that a warning for what you might consider overdramaticism. Yes, I made that word up.

Additional disclaimers:
- “If you’re dating a writer and they don’t write about you — whether it’s good or bad — then they don’t love you.”
- The world needs stories. And I want to tell them.

Sadness + Regret = Confusion
“The most beautiful people I’ve known are those who have known trials, have known struggles, have known loss, and have found their way out of the depths.” ― Elisabeth Kübler-Ross

I hung up the phone. The wound was fresh. So fresh that I wanted nothing more than to take back our decision. I wanted to make the 2 hour drive to his city just to say I changed my mind. I felt regret immediately.

I cried myself to sleep. And I told no one. I didn’t want to talk about it because I didn’t want it to be real. When I woke up the next morning I think I forgot that it happened because I jumped out of bed and hopped onto my yoga mat, as I do every morning. But then I sat down on the floor and saw the makeup that smeared on my pillowcase from the night before, and I remembered. That’s when I spent the next seventy minutes crying.

Through the tears I saw the pictures on my wall of all the places in the world that I’ve visited. All of the mornings and every moment before that one, I looked at those same pictures in awe and plain disbelief. They amazed me every time, even more when I thought of the facts that I took those pictures and that I saw those places with my own eyes. But that morning those pictures were nothing more than ordinary to me, and I didn’t care about them.

I knew things were very wrong because I have never not cared about my sacred wall of travel photos before. That would be absurd. And it was. It was absurd. The whole day was absurd. I only told three people, and none of them could say anything right. They tried to make me feel better but they didn’t. I was surrounded by people whose job it was to support me, but when you lose a love like I did, there’s no one qualified enough to get that job done. It really just felt like a huge part of me went missing, and I felt like a robot, going about my day with no direction and no life. I didn’t even pity myself because I knew how real that sadness was. We had been apart more days than we had been together, but I have never missed him more. I thought about how dumb I was to let go of what might have been the best I ever had and everything I ever deserved. He gave meaning to things that otherwise might not matter to me at all–from the cities we explored together, to simple daily tasks like brushing my teeth. I sunk into my yoga mat and hoped to see the light at the end of the tunnel, but it felt like happiness was far, far down the road.

Sadness, Anger and a Pinch of Nostalgia
“The greater the obstacle, the more glory in overcoming it.” – Moliere

For days I questioned everything. I wondered about the future, and compared him to anyone and everyone and each time came to the conclusion that I will never find better. I was happy even while we lived countries, continents, cities, and states away, and when sad songs played. I was happy even when we fought. I felt lucky each time I heard a sad love story, or any sad story. I was always so happy and positive because he let me be that way, no matter what. And I was happy because we were my fairytale. We were every cliché story and every cheesy romance I ever wanted. How could I leave all of that behind? I was happy no matter where in the world I was because I knew he thought of me and that in a matter of days or weeks, and sometimes months, we would be together again. 

But this time the distance won. These thoughts haunted me for days. I felt so strongly and so much at once. One second I was overcome with numbness and a complete lack of emotion, and the next I was livid. I spent hours reading old conversations, browsing through pictures, and trying to go back to my favorite moments together…and then I would grow angry and bitter, thinking thoughts I knew were wrong. I would read silly love notes that I scribbled on notebook pages in class from the semester when we first met, and I tortured myself with nostalgia, forcing my brain through this state of what I call sentimentality. I wrote angry diary entries on notebook pages just to get my feelings out. I was even more sad than before, because I missed him. My favorite songs didn’t sound the same, and somehow they meant something completely different to me. I ate nothing for days, except for the bowls of cereal I forced myself to have in the morning. Everything I did throughout my day had no purpose, and the plans I had for the future disappeared. I’ve always said missing anything is the worst feeling of all, and this experience has only confirmed that particular life theory of mine. I could feel my heart shrinking in my chest. I used a towel for my tears instead of wasting what could have been hundreds of tissues. Every morning when I woke up and every night before I fell asleep I faced the same familiar wave of tears. 

I tried to fill the void by distracting myself, only to find myself standing in dead ends. I went to a party but somehow everyone knew and kept asking me how I was. I tried to make new friends but felt guilty that I didn’t even care about their stories. I made plans, booked conferences, and filled up my calendar, but I hardly looked forward to anything. The few friends I told offered me every second of their days. They surprised me with ice cream cones (into which I literally cried), cooked me grilled cheeses, bought me chocolate tours from Groupon, wrote me love letters, and made me margaritas. They called me to talk for hours, sat on couches with me while I ate entire pints of Ben & Jerry’s chocolate fudge brownie, and they even developed a “Happiness Plan of Action”. They reminded me of my strength, my bright future, and of all of the other fish in the sea. My mom called me Xena the warrior. Suddenly, I let myself feel a lot of love, but it was a different kind of love.

“And once the storm is over, you won’t remember how you made it through, how you managed to survive. You won’t even be sure, whether the storm is really over. But one thing is certain. When you come out of the storm, you won’t be the same person who walked in. That’s what this storm’s all about.” ― Haruki Murakami

One morning and once again, I found myself sitting on my bedroom floor bawling my eyes out while the live version of “Lovers’ Eyes” by Mumford & Sons played in the background. I cried for way too long and waited patiently for my body to stop convulsing and for my breath to slow. Then, this inevitable, beautiful moment happened. I peeked through my tears and the photos on my wall looked more beautiful than I remembered. I thought to myself, Wow. It’s pretty again. I feel a little bit better. And I reached the point in crying where I found enlightenment. I realized that the world is the same. Mine is different, but the world is the same. I still want the same things in life, and I will still get them because that’s what I deserve. The point where crying of sadness turns into crying of happiness is one in which you realize that you can only be sad for so long; that crying and wallowing will get you nowhere. 

My mom says that you shouldn’t be sad over a boy for more than seven days. That’s seven days of wasting what could be a new life. So I discovered my new life theory: I believe that every time you leave something behind, you become a different person. Sometimes this change is automatic; you already are a different person because of this loss. But other times, you have to find a new version of yourself. Because this break-up was the logical decision and not exactly the decision I wanted, I know this new and different person in me won’t just emerge; I have to find her. I have to shed the necessary layers to find this new version of myself. I have to accept this. I have to stop being sad and angry, and I have to start being thankful. Don’t get me wrong. I have been thankful for this relationship since we met on the 27th of January in 2011. 

I have been thankful for every second we got to share both together and apart, and I will never stop being thankful. I wore his shirt to bed one last time, and I have acknowledged that that might be the only closure I will ever get. I don’t know what the future holds and I only wish the best for both of us. I look forward to the day we might be friends and meet again, but right now I’m learning how to be thankful for the fact that who we were together is a thing of the past. I’m grateful for the stories we have and for the life we had together. I’m grateful that he gave me the best and because of that I will have the highest of standards a girl can have in a relationship. I got to experience a lot of firsts and I couldn’t ask for better memories. We always did the best we could and we always made the best of our distance. It was beautiful, and it still is. And my gratitude will not ever end because the last three years inspired me, and they will continue to.

This ending was our decision, and I feel lucky to feel lucky about it.

writer photo

Christine Odea

Born in the Philippines, raised in the U.S., and currently living in South Korea, Christine is very much a wandering soul. She believes that seeing the world and meeting its people is the best way to spend time. Christine's passions include writing, photography, ice cream, and international education.

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