Last week, I saw a young lady who was originally from India. Sweetie (not her real name) wanted to go home, not to her apartment five blocks away, but back to India. She spoke softly, without looking up, tears in her eyes. She seemed much younger than 29 and appeared child-like and sad. Her longterm engagement had broken up.
Sweetie hadn’t slept well in weeks, and her work performance was suffering. She was exhausted and depressed, and she needed family.
I know what you are thinking. Anyone who is 29 years old should handle these situations like an adult, get control of their emotions, and get over it! Right? Where were her Ya-Ya Sisters? All boy problems disappear instantly after purging his photos and T-shirts into a bonfire while drinking wine and singing N’Sync’s Bye Bye Bye, right?
But, this young lady didn’t have Ya-Ya sisters, a fire, or wine, and she had never heard of N’Sync. She wanted to go home and grieve with her family.
Her request reminded me of one of the most painful breakups that I experienced. I was 28 years old, a new graduate of a medical school in the Philippines when I moved back home with my parents. My pre-fiancée (we had discussed the topic of marriage at some point in our three-year relationship, but he hadn’t asked me the formal questions yet, but I’m sure The Proposal takes time to plan. Plus he told me he loved me; therefore, I’m allowed to call him pre-fiancee) wasn’t finished with school yet. We prepared for our long-distance relationship and outlined ways to see each other during the holidays.
Two weeks after leaving his side, he broke up with me through email.
It was the late 1990s when email was only available in internet cafes and each minute on the dial-up network cost $1 but was still cheaper than telephone which cost $2/minute and was guaranteed to be a poor connection. When I received that breakup email, I thought there was a typo, or that maybe he was having a nervous breakdown from the stress during the internship; or dying from a horrific illness and wanted to spare me from his suffering, or that I was “punk’d” by Ashton Kutcher.
When he did not respond to my email asking for clarification, I decided that he was too ill to get to an internet cafe, and he needed my help. Mama and Papa generously offered to fly me to the Philippines to find answers. In retrospect, I’m still stunned and grateful by this gesture.
It took more than 19 hours of flight time over two days to reach the Philippines but only 2 hours to find out that my pre-fiancée was not dead. He was not having a breakdown. It wasn’t a joke, and nobody knew what “punk’d” was.
The answer was simple: He DID. NOT. LOVE. ME.
Less than two days later, I was back in the air flying home, heartbroken. I cried through 5 international airports, 13 hours of trans-Pacific flight time, 12 hours of layovers, 6 hours of domestic flight time, and 3 hours of road-trip through two states before my tears stopped flowing. That’s a lot of tears.
For the next week, I slept with my parents. Yes, I did. I can admit this now that I’m a doctor, a wife, and a mom. Sometimes the only Rx needed to mend a broken heart, regardless of age, is love from Mama and Papa.
Have you ever experienced a break-up that made you miss your mom? Let’s talk!
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