Happy Scramiversary!

Last week, I celebrated a rather important occasion: the anniversary of a breakup. In October 2009, I ended an eighteen-month relationship with a man I loved very much. And this October, I celebrated the one-year anniversary of a really good decision.

My relationship with Isaac was an exercise in extremes. When things were good, they were really, really good. We were blissfully happy together. And when things were bad, well, they were awful. After graduating from college together, we both moved to New York. Moving to a new city and transitioning from being a college student into someone leading something that resembles an adult life is a challenge, for anyone. It can strain even the strongest relationships. My relationship with Isaac buckled under that strain.

It only took a few months for things to fall apart. He was working long hours in a conventional job, and I was interning, working part time and writing from home. I felt that my flexible schedule was being taken for granted – I suspected that he valued my time less, and believed I should work myself around his schedule, because he was paid so much more for his time than I was. Worst of all, I suspected that Isaac felt that way because ultimately, he didn’t respect my less-than-conventional career choices.

Things got really bad, surprisingly fast. We had so little time to spend together, and in the time we did have, I didn’t feel appreciated or respected or supported. I found myself asking him to appreciate and respect and support me, something no self-respecting woman should ever have to ask their significant other to do. I didn’t like the way it made me feel about myself. I didn’t want to be the girl who wonders – aloud, to her friends, for god’s sake – whether or not her boyfriend respects her. When I realized that I had become that girl, I left.

Breakups are awful. Even when you’re the one initiating the end of a relationship, you’re not immune from breakup symptoms: heartbreak, disappointment, self-doubt and the desire to make a playlist of Taylor Swift’s saddest songs and crawl into bed until the pain goes away. I felt all those things when I broke up with Isaac. But I also felt like I’d done the right thing for me, both personally and politically. And I think that those kinds of decisions should be celebrated.

Anniversaries, in their traditional form, celebrate the start of something. They celebrate the moment we made the decision to start a relationship that we’re glad we started. But what about the decision to end a relationship that you’re glad you ended? What about the decision to walk away from something that was hurting you? I believe that those decisions should be celebrated, too. It’s not about being vindictive. It’s about celebrating the moment you decided to love yourself and respect yourself and open yourself up to the kind of relationship you deserve.

And so, I propose the creation of a new occasion: the Scramiversary. It’s a day to commemorate the moment when you decided, wisely, in retrospect, to get the hell out of something that was making you unhappy.  Get on that, Hallmark.

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11 Comments

  1. Posted October 21, 2010 at 1:12 pm | Permalink

    thank you. thank you thank you thank you. the next couple months represent, for me, the end of almost every significant relationship i’ve ever had. i’m so glad to have a new perspective on why they ended, and i think i’ll go home after work and make myself a scramiversary card, since i suspect it’s going to be a while before hallmark comes up with one. possibly i will listen to aretha while i’m at it.

  2. Posted October 21, 2010 at 2:09 pm | Permalink

    Heh. I have about ten of them. Wonder whether I should rank them worst to most tolerable?

  3. Posted October 21, 2010 at 2:30 pm | Permalink

    I love this! Congratulations!

  4. Posted October 21, 2010 at 2:37 pm | Permalink

    Thank you! I was in a relationship that I ended after about 18 months as well. Fortunately, I grieved it while I was still in the relationship–which made the last few months HELL–so moving on was easy and I love being single. I think I’ll make a card too.

  5. Posted October 21, 2010 at 2:44 pm | Permalink

    Can I still celebrate a Scramiversary if I wasn’t the one who ended things? It’s been just over a month since my most significant relationship to date ended. He ended things, but I have a feeling that it was me asking for a little more attention and respect that prompted him to dump me. I was (and am) devastated. This hit really close to home for me: “I found myself asking him to appreciate and respect and support me, something no self-respecting woman should ever have to ask their significant other to do. I didn’t like the way it made me feel about myself. I didn’t want to be the girl who wonders – aloud, to her friends, for god’s sake – whether or not her boyfriend respects her.” And I mean “hit really close to home” in the best possible way. It makes me realize that I’m not the only person who has been through a relationship like this. And if he hadn’t ended things when he did, I would have eventually ended it myself. So thank you, Chloe, for making this broken-hearted feminist feel a little less broken.

  6. Posted October 21, 2010 at 3:55 pm | Permalink

    Yesterday was my 4-month scramiversary. I was the dumped, totally taken by surprise, and still am heartbroken, especially since finding out that he has a serious GF after less than 3 months, while we dated for nearly 2 years and it took him nearly half that time to consider things serious…I went on my first date since then last night. It was fun. Got my mind off things, anyway, and reminded me that I’ll probably be okay. Still it fucking sucks, though.

  7. Posted October 21, 2010 at 7:41 pm | Permalink

    I think your comments and insights are very valuable. Marking important life events, with a practice (writing or like making a card) or some ritual (burn some sage or ???) help me bridge the gap from where I was to where I want to be. Leaving a +16 year marriage was, apart from becomong a parent, the best decision I ever made. Painful yes absolutely. However I got my life back. Thank you for your important words and sentiments.

  8. Posted October 21, 2010 at 8:42 pm | Permalink

    **Triggers for violence **
    This is a great post. I remember leaving a boyfriend after things got violent, but there were many signs I hadn’t recognized, like isolating me from friends and family so he would really be my “one and only”, denigrating all my opinions and sulking when I didn’t agree with everything he said, walking miles ahead of me and not caring if he left me behind, telling me to just hurry up, putting down my education and claiming he didn’t need anything like that, then escalating to hurting his dog. When I left him, there was a hole inside me a mile wide. I missed him, and I felt all wrong for feeling that way. I cried for months, remembering little things like what we’d share for breakfast. But I knew I’d done the right thing in leaving him. I couldn’t have put up with him another day. One of us would be dead or seriously injured by now otherwise. Never thought of celebrating, but maybe I should ! :)

  9. Posted October 21, 2010 at 11:28 pm | Permalink

    “I found myself asking him to appreciate and respect and support me, something no self-respecting woman should ever have to ask their significant other to do.”
    This really strikes home with me… I just got out of a similarly volatile relationship: when things were good we were so happy together but things were bad we both became other people and tried our hardest to tear each other apart. The worst part was that I lost my best friend and a huge part of me wants to forgive him and give him another chance (yet again) because I know he’s a good person and cares about me. But the truth was he was abusive and I don’t deserve to be treated like that. This reminded me of that.
    Reading this was exactly what I needed to cure me of today’s moment of weakness. Blegh. I hate breakups.

  10. Posted October 22, 2010 at 6:11 am | Permalink

    My boyfriend and I are happy, but I don’t feel that he pays attention to the stuff I like. We usually just talk about what he likes, video games, video games and did I mention he likes video games? I love feminism and I have nobody to talk to about it, in fact my bf was an anti-feminist “feminist” untill I told him what real feminism was about. He never reads my blog, or what I write, and when we do I am afraid that we would get into an arguement. I am not so sure if he is the right person to spend my life with because of this. I’m struggling with this issue because I am not good at leaving.

    • Posted October 23, 2010 at 12:30 pm | Permalink

      It does sound like a one-sided relationship from a free-time point of view. If he is making some kind sacrifice in some other capacity that you do not match, this sort of arrangement may still be deemed fair (although maybe a little problematic nonetheless if the unevenness of the responsibility-sharing is bothersome). I mean, there has to be some reason you’re trying to make a relationship work with a guy whose primary free-time interest differs from yours.

      If and when you bring up your interest, it may help to engage him with it. Don’t just tell him about stuff — just feeding him information is not going to make for an interesting experience. Ask him for his reaction to certain issues (and encouraging him to not answer right away if he would rather sleep on it or learn more about it first). You don’t have to immerse him as much as he ends up doing to you with video games, and I don’t even think you should jump into issues of feminism that are so mainstream (probably a good idea to not start with abortion and politics, for example). But what you do accomplish is get him to think about feminism on his own time.

      On the flip side, since you are in the business of getting your bf to think critically about feminism, you might ask your bf what he likes about the particular video games he plays (if he hasn’t volunteered that information already). There are many genres of games and many reasons people could play any genre, so it may be possible to extract something interesting from him, especially if it is a genre without a clear Real Life analogy. For example, you may be able to make some good guesses as to why someone would play a “sports game” based off a particular college/pro league, but it is harder to do the same for a role-playing game or even a first-person shooter.

      It’s not that you have to do these things, but while you don’t have to do everything together (and your bf may do well to not talk to you as much about video games, particularly any day-to-day stuff), it is probably good to have *something* in common.

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