EOTW No. 1 – You’re invited to The End of the World (part 1)


Hello Humans,

There is no good way to share sad news, so I’m just going to blurt it out. Justine and I have split up.  There it is—that’s the message behind this whole post, and I will not think any less of you if you decide not to read further.

Simply put, this really sucks for everyone. The break-up feels tragic, unreal, and impossible to overcome. Nothing in my life has ever prepared me for what I would call my first grown up heartbreak. Luckily, I’ve had four weeks to be a complete mess, before deciding to speak publicly about it i.e., make this Facebook official.

Still reading?  Then this letter is written for you, our people, whom we love so much, or are somehow attached to our lives digitally.  I’m writing this publicly in an attempt to fill you in, spare us some explanations, and mostly because I think writing about it will help me process what’s going on.

In the meantime, here’s the digest:

  • It is real – a deposit has been paid for her new apartment (UGH.) (I hate this.)
  • I have tried everything possible to try to make things work, while she has been really clear she does not want that. she is dating someone new,  whom I assume is not a bad guy.
  • I am not mad, but I am very sad.
  • I am aware there are things I could have done differently, (this is what happened,) but I’m exhausted from playing the “what if” game.
  • I am somewhere in-between complete denial and total acceptance. I am still hoping we end up back together at some point, and think its okay to hang on to a little hope, but am also aware the odds don’t look great.
  • We both still really care about each other, are seeing a therapist, and hope to be in each other’s lives in some way down the road.
  • This has potential to be the first break up that I was actually present for, did not burn down the rest of my life, have to demonize my ex to cope, or be issued a restraining order. Progress not perfection.

With Justine’s permission, I’ll be recording and observing the grieving process, trying to make sense of what happened, and hopefully document one of the most influential moments of my life. I’ve set up a blog on Hellohumans.co that I’m calling “The End of the World (Part 1.)”  I invite you to read it, share it with anyone who would might FIND it helpful or interesting, but most importantly I would love some help. If you know anyone who has survived the end of their world in any form, and risen from the ashes even stronger and more fully alive, I’d love to connect, get advise, inspiration, and share what helped get them through it.

Please email me at [email protected]


  1. When my long- term relationship ended I found a saying I have had on my wall ever since (that would be for 25 years now). It says:
    "My barn having burned
    to the ground
    I can now see the moon."

    That beautiful bite will hopefully bring you some solace and perspective. Namaste.

  2. When the end of the world happened for me, it was a quote from your mom’s book, Bird by Bird, that got me though. Here it is:

    E.L. Doctorow once said that “writing a novel is like driving a car at night. You can see only as far as your headlights, but you can make the whole trip that way.” You don’t have to see where you’re going, you don’t have to see your destination or everything you will pass along the way. You just have to see two or three feet ahead of you. This is right up there with the best advice on writing, or life, I have ever heard.

  3. Worlds end. It fucking sucks. I’m glad you’re putting this out for others so we don’t feel alone in our endings and subsequent beginnings. The good stuff does happen again. New good stuff. Don’t give up. Glad you’re healthy.

  4. When my world ended 6 years ago, it was devastating. I felt like my heart had been ripped out of my body and thrown on the ground and stomped on multiple times. My 22 year marriage ended due to infidelity and I was completely blindsided. For me it was a long and painful process. I found during those early days when I couldn’t move and was more or less paralyzed with pain and grief that I eventually came to a surprising place of calm and peacefulness. A deep knowing emerged that all will be okay and it is now, but it was an emotional roller coaster ride for a number of years. I think what helps enormously is being able to forgive. By doing so I was able to get out of the prison that I locked myself into. Also, by releasing the constant thought of trying to figure out what happened and why, was paramount to my healing. I succumbed to the realization that I may never know why this happened and this helped me to move on to acceptance. I too was completely convinced that we would one day be together again but he has since married his affair partner so getting back together again is highly unlikely. Letting go is the hardest part. Time has certainly helped with healing as well as getting lots of support. I have been able to forgive but not sure I will ever be able to forget. The side affect sadly is I’m not sure I can trust anyone again and hence have not been able to open my heart to anyone since. I hope your healing journey allows you to find your inner peace sooner rather than later.

  5. Since last fall, I had a stroke, was involuntarily cancelled from the biggest opportunity of my writing career, was fired from my day-job, got diagnosed with a chronic incurable stomach illness, lost at least half of my friends, and was denied disability and illegally cancelled from my Obama-care health plan for two months–just as thousands of dollars in diagnostic tests took place. I’m still alive, and I’m happier than ever. shrugs

  6. Can totally relate. One of the comments collapsed me (Lyn, your reply I can totally relate to on a visceral level.). Why is this so fucking hard?!?! Why is it taking me so fucking long?! I know that "peace" is right there to be had…like I can sense it…but it eludes me. I literally, (READ: Literally) want to join The Marines and go to Boot Camp. I want my ass kicked. I want to lose everything and find it again. That’s why I do the 5ks…it’s therapeutic. I love how the pain is real. How I have a purpose. How getting muddy for an hour makes me feel alive again. I lost something…didn’t even know it was happening. But there it is.
    I hate my ex. I don’t hate exes…but I do her. She betrayed me. We didn’t have a discussion of our end, it just….ended. I have never been in such a place of depression, anxiety, pissed offedness…ever. But I’m here. I know…first world problem. Still, I’m here.
    That’s why "Boot Camp" or something like it is so appealing. Like a re-boot. This movie really spoke to me for the same reason (maybe why the book "Deep Survival" truly spoke to me):

    All Is Lost (2013)
    Directed by J.C. Chandor. With Robert Redford. After a collision with a shipping container at sea, a resourceful sailor finds himself, despite all efforts to the contrary, staring his mortality in the face.

    I feel devastated. I feel alone (but I know that I’m not…I feel more…"isolated"). I should be over it by now but somehow, I can’t pull myself out. I could win the lottery, have the most beautiful woman by my side and all my current "problems" solved…and I still wouldn’t be happy. I lost at the one thing I really was trying to find: Love. Doesn’t matter that we were wrong for each other. Doesn’t matter that she wasn’t what I thought she was. I loved her. Deeply and with every fiber of my being…isn’t that supposed to work out?!?! Turns out, no.
    So here I go. Off into the unknown at almost 50. The energy and anticipation of youth disappearing. My options decreasing. My opinions getting stronger. All the things I once held dear are gone. I can only hope to get them back. It’s a day-to-day-to-day-to-day struggle. Get up, get through the day, repeat. I guess in reality, it’s my life goal that I have to reinvent. What I lived my whole life for turned out "wrong". Twice. So here I go…

    My sister: Are you going to post this to Sam Lamott in the comments? Did you? I think it would be well received. It doesn’t help to have company in this type of grief, does it? All grief is entirely personal.

    Me: I wasn’t planning on it, but it might help someone else.

  7. As a woman old enough to be your grandmother I have survive the loss of several wonderful men in my life and it 82 I can look back and realize how I grew from those experiences. A book by Pina McWilliams called "How to survive the loss of a love" has helped me immensely and I still get something from it when I read it now. You can get it online for free. I wish you well. Things to do today: inhale, exhale, repeat

  8. Hi Sam,

    I’m a journalist and author who has been a fan of yours and your mom’s since Operating Instructions (which I just re-read before having my own baby, a son who’s now 1). I read your blog about your breakup and TOTALLY get it. I am so sorry. And I do have something to offer – in the form of stories and encouragement.

    My last breakup, and a magazine story I did while I was bitter and grieving, prompted me to embark on a global journey to explore resilience & forgiveness. That reporting adventure led to my recent book, TRIUMPH OF THE HEART: FORGIVENESS IN AN UNFORGIVING WORLD (Penguin Random House), which explores forgiveness through stories, science and memoir.

    I profiled some of the most extraordinary people – from urban Baltimore to suburban Scottsdale to rural Rwanda – people who overcame and sought or granted forgiveness after everything from spats and infidelity and betrayal, to abuse and murder, even genocide. As a natural-born grudge-holder and self-blamer, my life has been irrevocably changed by these courageous people – and the privilege it was to weave their stories into a book grounded by the current scientific research on grief, forgiveness, resilience and mindfulness. I learned so much about these tools that we must use if we’re going to get through this life with our souls intact.

    I hope that you might find some solace and inspiration from my book. I certainly did. You can buy the paperback from your favorite online retailer, or I’m happy to mail you a copy if you send your address. (I think Penguin mailed your mom a copy after I got to meet her at one of her readings – I thought she would dig it after her recent essays about the topic and because she has long been an inspiration to me – but I imagine it ended up in what must be an endless pile of fan mail and annoying requests for blurbs and the like. I picture her as a kind of literary saint who every type of person petitions for some spiritual WD40).

    Much love, and certain assurance that you WILL get through this,

    Megan Feldman Bettencourt

  9. You are an amazing writer. (Please don’t let that fuel your ego in a self-destructive relationship kind of way). Be the man you would want your son to be to a woman someday. Teach him how to be. You can do this.

  10. My world has ended four times: the first was when I was homeless at thirteen, the second was getting a felony on my record at twenty-two [thankfully now dismissed and simply a misdeamor], the third was being homeless again at twenty-five, and the fourth was losing my first true love and best friend from alcoholism at twenty-seven. Each time, I honestly thought I was a goner, but in my eleventh hour, I somehow pulled through. Be it by a guardian angel or my own survival instincts kicking in. You’ve got this. In time it WILL get better.


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