I got my first girlfriend at 27. You could call me a late bloomer. You could call me like one commenter on my Facebook page, loser. Truth to be told, life circumstances played the most significant role in such a late start. Most guys get a first girlfriend when they are 16-17, not 27.

When she started dating me, I was clueless, incredibly insecure, jealous, because, as someone with PTSD, I was hypervigilant. I believed when she wasn't with me, she was doing something horrible. I taught myself with a time that people can care about you. Not everybody is trying to hurt you. My girlfriend is with friends or thinking about me from a distance. My perspective started to shift. I thought, maybe with time I can learn trust, something so foreign to me then.

Hearing "I love you" for the first time and from someone I was attracted felt like winning a lot money. This video didn't lie. The electric sensation went through my body, I never felt such a warm feeling inside. It filled me inside with a strange feeling, being content. I finally understood what other people already experienced so often when they were hugged by family, patted on the back, supported during a school play. I was late to the party but determined to catch up.


Fast forward 3 years, I am going over my first breakup. Did I absolutely fail at being a boyfriend? I don't think so but made a lot of mistakes along the way. I couldn't invest myself emotionally enough. She didn't see my baggage, I hid it well. My coping mechanism was well-oiled-machine, most of the people couldn't see beyond my mask. They would just think: "Goofy, intelligent, creative guy that has a lisp." The girlfriend saw some inconsistencies but couldn't put the finger on it.  I perfected my act so much, treated past me as a stain that I need to get rid of. Only my first psychotherapist spotted it. My cover was blown.


This is not my brain on drugs—this my brain on a breakup.

Just having fun
Photo by Nikita Kachanovsky / Unsplash

Game Over

If it took you 27 years to get a first girlfriend, it's natural to think that the next one is not waiting just around the corner. I am hopeless romantic, but still, keep my feet on the ground. I worked really hard to get my first girlfriend; I fought through my shyness, poverty, and lack of social IQ. Even with that work, she needed to get used to me, how I was different than most guys she met.

After she broke the news, I felt like end credits would roll soon. Anxiety was kicking my butt, nights were terrible. My phone was always lying next to me in the bedroom. Funny clips from How I Met Your Mother were playing in the background. Why? Because every noise would scare me to death, I felt like my house was invaded. At the same time, I was completely aware that these were silly thoughts. Today I met with my psychiatrist again, and she wanted to prescribe me benzodiazepine. I was reluctant to accept it but finally did. I am not a fan of a benzo, it suppresses my emotions and makes me feel stupid. To be honest, I don't want to take it and hope I don't have to. Even if I collect the prescription, I will throw most of the pills away. Compulsive redosing is a thing, and these pills should be used in an emergency situation. They are not treating the cause.

Photo by Lindsay Henwood / Unsplash

Five stages of breakup

It's hard to put where I am now. Real-life isn't some fancy model; it's complicated, messed up, unpredictable. It's crazy how scientists attempt to put everything to be black or white. Even though I am not a big believer in these stages, let's look at them.  It should be interesting to examine and check where I am. Is the pain mostly over, or the most intense pain is still ahead of me?

Denial. It's hard to accept it as nothing other than a dream. This isn't real. The girlfriend said we will last forever. She said it a million times. She couldn't lie. Right now, I am staring at a drawing she made for me with two hands interlocked. Text on the picture: "If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together". She couldn't lie that good.

I am mainly in this phase. Sometimes I close my eyes, hug the pillow, and whisper the name of my ex-girlfriend. Sounds crazy? I am completely aware this isn't normal. Yet, it's a current normal for me. The emotional mind is fighting my mostly analytical programming brain. The score is Heart 10: 0 Logic. Still, I am making progress, even this writing session helped me tremendously. Reality is knocking on my door. I feel almost ready to let her in. This will be a big step in healing.

Anger. I am not short-tempered by nature. I get irritable a lot but have problems with expressing anger. Now that I think about it, there is a thing I am angry about. Everything happened during our 3rd anniversary week. I planned a small gift and dinner at the restaurant on the 17th of June, but she said we won't meet. Then a couple days later, on Sunday, it was O-V-E-R. During breakup conversation, she acted like she didn't even remember about our anniversary. Did I mean so little to her that she forgot such an important date? Maybe she did remember but didn't want to make it awkward, celebrating on Wednesday and breaking up on Sunday.

Did you watch Eternal Sunshine of Spotless Mind? Sometimes, I feel this could be an answer. Erase all your memories of the ex-girlfriend with technology. It would be easy, but would also kill a lot of progress I made as a human being. I don't want to sound cliche, but I have to quote Batman Begins.

"Why do we fall, sir? So that we can learn to pick ourselves up."

Bargaining. It's negotiating with yourself. Maybe if I didn't start this blog, my girlfriend would be here? Perhaps if I did more cleaning and laundry? Probably if I ditched Escitalopram sooner, sexual side-effects wouldn't ruin our sex life? My brain loves bargaining. If multiverse theory is correct, there are so many worlds that PTSD Engineer doesn't exist, and I am lying next to my girl. I probably cooked dinner too.

Depression. Do I feel emotion approaching? Run. I am Michael Scofield of escaping from feelings. Breakup is no different. I cry, but most of the time, I am occupying my mind. This blog is also a distraction.

Acceptance. So far away from this one that I won't spend any time on it. It sounds like an admirable goal but can't imagine it for now.

Hitman holding a syringe with a drip of liquid
Photo by Dimitri Houtteman / Unsplash

I'm toxic

There are countless articles about toxic girlfriend/boyfriend signs. It would be unfair to look only at another person's imperfections. Stand in front of the mirror. Look deep into your eyes. Am I toxic? This is a question I asked myself many times before. After a breakup, it's almost always on my mind.

It happened so many times that I didn't treat her as a priority. I don't want to defend myself, I spent two years being fully occupied with "Girlfriend Project" and then lost focus. I fought, but suddenly everything felt flat: friends, food, movies. Lately, I tried to explain this to my friend. He didn't get it. How hard is it to hug your girlfriend? How hard is it to talk even if you don't want to? How hard is it to go on dinner dates every week? I loved her profoundly but still couldn't do those things on demand. My heart was operational only a couple times per week, and I didn't have a schedule.

I kept a score in love, expected big affection when I showed one.  It was a self-centered attitude caused by my constant need for attention. When I was disappointed, I would make her feel bad, mostly not on purpose. If I put a lot of effort into creating a gift or picking something unique for my girlfriend, I wanted the same. She was always scared of my reaction to gifts. Love is a complicated thing. It's impossible to turn into a formula.

Thank you for reading.

Best regards,

PTSD Engineer