The museum of broken relationships is that one place where people can send anything that reminds them of any “ship” they just ended. That one place that offers them the possibility to get rid of memories of a relationship that was a failed attempt at filling the holes inside them, to finally become whole on their own. That one place that shares stories about broken love and other relationships so we can learn from them and grow. Told by people who (be)lie(ve)d and those who couldn’t keep a promise. It is really worth a visit, but just in case you never make it to Los Angeles (USA) or Zagreb (Croatia), here is what I learned:
1. Heartbreak is painful. And those going through it suffer.
But one thing I got from the majority of those stories shared in the museum is that the heart always heals. For some it took longer than for others. But once they learned to let go, they got a little closer to themselves. Heartbreak teaches you a lot about yourself. Be open to what you can learn from these painful experiences and you won’t make the same mistakes in future relationships again.
2. Sometimes, in a relationship, we focus too much on the other person’s passion that we tend to forget our own. This can invoke feelings of jealousy, which will eventually harm the relationship. Take time during this breakup to rediscover your own passion, before you move on to the next person.
“I fell in love with a guy at a swing dance exchange in Sweden. We met on a Friday, and the next Friday we slept together on a Swedish beach at 5am. The next day we parted ways – he lived in Canada and I lived in California – and didn’t stop talking until the day we broke up. Our long distance relationships made us angry, and we fought about the tone of each other’s texts. I became jealous of his success in the passions we shared, convinced that he was leaving me in the dust. He was ready to be with me forever, and I was afraid. It hurt because I knew I had found the person I wanted to be with, but it just wasn’t the right time. We broke up the 1st of January, and two weeks later he told me he was in love with someone else. They are still together. I am still alone. He sent me leaves from Canada so that I could have seasons in California. They smell like fall and like him.”
– Story shared by a woman from California.
3. People that are close to you often try to warn you when you are in a bad relationship. No matter how deeply in love you are with your significant other, do not ignore those warnings, as they usually come from a person who only has your best interest in mind.
“This porcelain figurine of a fat couch potato skeleton in boxers and a wife beater tank covered in beer cans, cigarettes, and potato chips was given to me as a wedding gift…anonymously. The card read: “So you can see your future.” At the time, I thought it was just an off-color joke that missed its mark. I was in love and gullible. Little did I know, it was a prescient warning, but I wish it had shown all the drugs and more than a dozen hookers that came with it. I stayed too long in that abusive marriage but finally saved myself. I never found out who sent it, but hope it may speak to others… and spare them my experience.”
– Story shared by a woman from California.
4. ALWAYS stay true to yourself. If your partner tries to convince you to do things you are really uncomfortable with, it might be a good idea to start reconsidering the relationship. Do you value your relationship more than your own self-worth? Do you love your relationship more than you love yourself? Will you ever be truly happy in this relationship if your partner continues to try to change you?
“So, after three years together, my husband brought fake, sculpted female breasts which were, of course, larger than mine, and that was the time of our biggest relationship crisis… He made me wear them during sex because they turned him on. I was disappointed and because of those sculpted fake breasts. I left him for good.”
– Story shared by a woman from Serbia.
5. Ghosting is not new. Another reoccurring theme in the brokenship stories was not receiving closure after breaking up. In most of those cases, the significant other stopped loving. Just like that. No explanations. No answering phone calls or text messages. It is hard to not believe that voice in your head that whispers that you just were not worthy enough. You were. And you still are. Some people are just not ready for the love you have to give. Keep on loving: give it to yourself, to the people that are close to you, to your dog, a flower. Even if you are afraid of loving again, it is so important that you do. Think about those people you will enrich with the love you have to give.
“In the time it took me to go through one tube of toothpaste, I slowly stopped grieving over X. When I first started sleeping over, I noticed he would set up my toothbrush before we went to bed. Each night there was a neat strip of toothpaste on two brushes, side by side. It was one small thing, of many, that made me fall so deeply in love with him, in spite of the fact that I was perpetually one foot in, one foot out and ready to run. He always used a specific brand of toothpaste and when he withdrew from my life, never fully expressing that he was leaving me, I looked for him everywhere. I bought the same brand of toothpaste and felt heartbroken, twice, three times a day. But the heart heals. When I squeezed the last amount of toothpaste from the very top of the tube, I realized I no longer felt gutted by his absence. But, I still haven’t managed to throw the tube away. I think about him in some form every day. I recognize now that my loss was partly my own fault which is, perhaps, an even more bitter pill to swallow. So if you ever see this and recognize that it’s me, please give me a call. I want to know that you’re well.” – Story shared by a woman from California.
6. Romantic relationships are not the only relationships that can lead to heartbreak. A woman from Zaragoza explains how hurtful it is to loose friends.
“We were four friends. Four best friends for over 60 years. We shared everything.
We did everything together: we celebrated birthdays, bought presents together, phoned each other every day, and visited each other when we were sick… One day, however, I discovered they had been doing something without telling me: they had been playing the lottery, the special one for Christmas (it is a tradition in my country: you buy a number together with your friends and/or family). How did I find out? Because they won a big prize. I felt so sad and disappointed when I found out that I fell ill. They didn’t know what to say when I asked them why they hadn’t told me; they only made excuses. The worst thing is that they never phoned me again. People told me they were too ashamed. Maybe. Only one of them contacted me again, sincerely apologized and came back into my life. But the other two… They won the prize, but they lost a real friend. Losing friends is hard when you are young, but losing them when you are living the last years of your life is even harder.”
In another story, a man from Wisconsin struggled with the relationship he had with his father.
“This is for you,” my father said, handing me a large painting of a cowboy and dog as he walked into the rehearsal dinner the night before my wedding. “It as a dog in it.” And the fact that I owned dogs was one of the few things my father knew about me since he’d left so many years before. I had invited him to my wedding to be polite. During the wedding my father, sitting at the table next to mine, never got up to greet me, never said congratulations. A few words of goodbye and the view of his back as he left the church were all I would receive on my wedding day. But I still had the painting. Should I hang it in some odd homage to a man who had not been there? Should I donate it to a thrift store? Instead, I laid the painting down, and stabbed it repeatedly, angrily with scissors, years of grief flowing into the painted cowboy’s face. And then later that day, I pictured my father’s receding back, relief filling me, knowing he would be going away, out of my life one last time, taking his apathy and unkind actions away from me.”
Curious about all the other stories? Go read them yourself, I promise it’s worth it!