To say that we’ve all been through a lot over the past year and a half has been a massive understatement. While it seemed that I was stumbling over hurdle after hurdle (a handful of very unstable temporary jobs, a divorce, leaving a position that wreaked havoc on my self-worth, quarantine), I was so relieved to finally feel like I had landed on my feet with only a few minor scratches. I had no idea that I was actually stuffing it all into a pressure cooker.
Everything changed after my first post-divorce relationship imploded and the Texas winter storms arrived. I received everything I had ever gifted him in a single package that arrived on Christmas Eve, which sent me spiraling. Less than two months later, I was using my iPhone as a flashlight to frantically grab as many things as I could from my deteriorating Dallas apartment. I watched my ceiling swell with water in my kitchen, which hadn’t had power in weeks. And then about a week later, I had moved over 500 miles away to the hi-desert. It truly felt like grabbing my dogs, whatever was left in the apartment, and fleeing into the night.
View this post on Instagram
Therapy’s Initial Role
During this time, I wasn’t seeing my therapist regularly. This was for many reasons: my insurance was completely unstable, my housing was unpredictable, and I was honestly just focused on survival. I had spoken to Randy, (who was originally my marriage counselor), off and on during the course of my divorce, while relocating to Dallas, and while navigating through a major friendship ending, and a new (and later defunct) relationship. One hour just didn’t seem like enough time to truly dive into everything that was going on. A lot of it was too painful to even speak out loud.
Getting Real In (and Out) of Therapy
I finally spilled everything to my therapist on Zoom, who sat there stunned for a few seconds before finally saying, “You were telling me that ending this relationship was the best decision for the both of you and now you’re telling me that you want this person back.” He paused. “This doesn’t seem like you. What do you think is prompting this?”
“I think that this has really triggered some deep-seated abandonment issues and trauma in me. And I’m learning to respect that he doesn’t want to talk to me, but I think it’s beginning to feel like he died and I’m struggling with a more intensified feeling of loss, which is making me feel grief,” I said. Randy nodded.
I fought back tears as we chatted for a bit longer until our time was up. We make an appointment for the next week and the week after that. I was attending our sessions, and I was being open and honest. But it didn’t feel like I was making the progress that I had wanted to. Actually, it felt like talking to Randy about the breakup was only making it worse. I felt like I had so much to say, but I just couldn’t figure out how to say it. I wasn’t even sure if I wanted to say some of it to another human.
“Slow healing is something to celebrate too.”
Making a months-long relationship the prime focus of my therapy appointments made me feel ashamed and embarrassed. After all, I had been through so many other things during that same time — why was this taking up so much emotional real estate?
During one of those sleepless nights, I picked up my phone and started scrolling through the black hole known as my TikTok #fyp, or For You Page. Sandwiched between videos of cats singing and girls touting their latest workout ‘fits was a video of someone lighting candles on a cake that read “Slow healing is something to celebrate too”. The music was slow and hauntingly familiar and the candle glow reminded me of a childhood party. Immediate tears. Immediate follow.
The video came from an account called We’re Not Really Strangers, which had been making appearances as ads in-between my Instagram stories and a brand that I was actually already following on that platform. I immediately went to their website and ordered the WNRS Card Game and the Breakup Kit.
@werenotreallystrangersI’m proud of the process you’re making. no matter how small❤️♬ original sound – Matthew Hall
Playing to Grow
I had been telling friends about this card game so when it first arrived, I immediately tore open the box and lifted the lid. A folded note slipped out that read:
I have found there are 2 ways to play this game:
- Play safe
- Play to grow
The second is how you win.
I had such a strong reaction to this for many reasons. As an Enneagram 8, it’s always seemed impossible to be vulnerable with others, and even with myself about my feelings. Especially when hurt is involved. In fact, my ex even told me after a touching moment: “It’s okay if you cry — I won’t tell anyone.” I hadn’t even drawn a card yet and this game had already challenged me. And worse, it already made me cry. I tucked the note back into the box and moved to the Breakup Kit.
Yes, There’s Actually A Kit For This
I had already decided before I bought the kit that I needed to start journaling. I had to give these thoughts and feelings another place to live beside my brain. So once I shuffled the cards, I opened the blank book. The inside cover page read: “How is your heart feeling today in one word?” I took a deep breath and wrote “hopeful”.
Instead of replaying the same tired old memory in my brain, I’ve been focusing on questions that prompt self-reflection and challenge the reality of the situation vs. my rose-tinted glasses memory. And the best part is that I write down these questions in my journal, completely unfiltered. And it’s guarded at home by two barky, rescue terriers, so I know it’s safe and sound from prying eyes.
How the Breakup Kit Works
There are 51 cards (along with wild cards that either include extra prompts, reminders, or other challenges), so you can either draw a card and write in your journal or play with a friend. Each morning, I make my coffee and draw a card from the deck to write in my journal. The prompts range from questions like “What are three things you can appreciate about being single (even if it feels hard)?” and “Did you like your ex as a person? Or were you just in love? Explain.”
The questions work because yes, they allow you to think about the relationship itself. It will ask you questions about that person and the relationship itself. But it also challenges your perception of the relationship and encourages reflection on the similarities and differences of your relationships as a whole.
One Week Later
Just completing these prompts for one week made me feel so much lighter. I found myself not obsessing over the details as much, and I was falling into a great morning routine of journaling and enjoying a cup of coffee. Even Randy seemed curious about my routine after chatting with him during our weekly Zoom session. After I explained the game and kit to him, I saw his phone screen illuminate his face as he mumbled, “Sorry, I’m actually adding this to my cart… give me one second.”
What This Game Taught Me
It’s been weeks since I’ve started using the Breakup Kit, and it’s been such a great tool. It’s taught me that while breakups can be very painful, they can also be a great opportunity to do some self-reflection, become aware of your triggers, and do some healing. The kit goes beyond the breakup itself and exposes the parts of you that need attention and focus.
Note that this game is not a replacement for therapy, but I recommend using it in conjunction with therapy. And while I’m not 100% healed from this relationship, I’m aware of the progress I’ve made and I’ve realized a lot of things about myself in the process. It’s also equipping me with the awareness that there’s underlying trauma that needs to be addressed that goes beyond just this breakup.
And most importantly, playing this game and doing the work has taught me that there is strength in vulnerability.
We only recommend products we have independently researched, tested, and loved. If you purchase a product found through our links, Sunday Edit may earn an affiliate commission.