“It isn’t as if you were married!” Those callous words were thrown at a woman who was grieving the breakup of a relationship.. But it doesn’t require a wedding ring to make this kind of loss painful. Even if it’s not a legal divorce it’s an emotional one, and brings the same challenge of putting yourself back together.
I spoke with someone who fought his way through this ordeal. Ben Kassoy, a 33-year-old poet living in Los Angeles, shared the frank story of his “first mature relationship.”
He was still in his twenties when a friend introduced him to a statuesque young beauty. The immediate effect was “electric,” Ben says. “Sparks flew!” Apparently S (initial to protect her privacy) felt the same way. They became involved in a passionate affair that Ben hoped would be permanent.. After two years, S paid an overdue visit to her family for July 4th weekend. When she returned she called Ben and said they needed to talk. He hurried over, never imagining the devastating words he was greeted with: “It’s over.”
“She didn’t seem able to articulate a reason,” he says, “maybe she didn’t know why.. She just kept saying that she’d become less and less happy.” Was he shocked? “That’s an understatement. Tectonic plates shifted under my feet.”
He also felt humiliated at not having seen this coming. “I had thought I was on solid ground with her .”Although no ne blamed him for the breakup an avalanche of criticism came from his “internal monologue., “ he says. “I even made a list of all the things I hated about myself.”
Lost and confused, he made a common mistake: plunging into another affair. As many of us discover, rebounds don’t usually work. “Everything was in the shadow of my relationship with S . The affair was brief because I wasn’t ready, but this woman got hurt, which made me feel even lousier. My sense of myself was completely damaged.”
At that point he could have slid dangerously downhill into clinical depression or worse. “I had a lot of feelings I shoved down.” Courageously Ben faced a piviitol challenge. “Before I could have a good relationship with anyone, I needed to feel whole again. “
Recognizing that he couldn’t do it alone, he began seeing a therapist. He also “processed ” his feelings with his supportive family and a few close friends. “It wasn’t easy and it wasn’t quick, but I began to see mself with more clarity. I even gained a different perspective, that the breakup with S had a rightness about. It. Although our relationship was fantastic for that time in our lives, it wasn’t what either of us needed in the long run. We had completely different styles when it came to sharing our feelings. Of course, partners cas work on improving this, but we were worlds apart.”
It’s a dramatic contrast to the relationship he’s in now. For some three years later, he met Kristen, an attractive young actor. They’re together in what Ben describes as a “more communicative” relationship, helped by the work he did on himself. “I’m 100% stronger than I was with S,” he admits. It’s also affected his poetry. “She’s my inspiration and a big part of my support system,. You need a partner who understands the stresses of your work, the ups and downs you go through.”
What additional advice would he offer anyone looking for a new relationship? “Find someone who allows you to be the person you want to be!”
Ben Kassoy’s poems have been published in over a dozen literary magazines .He’s currently completing a full-length poetry collection..