Breakups suck, and there’s no easy way to say it. They can be an undefiable jolt to your self-esteem, your perception of relationships, and even your daily routine. To sunder from someone who loved you, put you on a pedestal – on your best and worst days- and ‘completed’ you can feel awful. In fact, awful may be an understatement. The entire process is disruptive, and your person will feel foreign.
While everyone might have experienced the occasional, puerile ‘heartbreak’ growing up, breaking up from an intimate, long-term relationship can introduce a new type of hurt you may not have experienced before. A post-breakup scene is often filled with friendship tropes of “Screw him! You were so much better than him!’ or ‘You’re single now, go be free!” (unless you’re exiting a toxic, abusive relationship – then, go you!) While these words may be faintly comforting at the moment, that ‘high’ fades quickly. Once that facetime call with your friends ends, you may find yourself back in bed, pondering where it all went wrong. Oh, god. THOSE thoughts. The ones that leave you feeling untouchable, broken, or throw you into waves of self-pity. The ones that strip you of your appetite and make you long for more time in bed. The ones that make sadness feel ceaseless.
I can’t tell you how good it feels to feel distant from these emotions. To acknowledge them, but not identify WITH them. Having dealt with a breakup late last year, I wanted to write this post for anyone experiencing heartache. I wanted to share the things I learned and personally did to help myself cope with this process. The good news is that these feelings and thoughts of desolation DO go away. Your low self-worth is temporary, and you WILL find yourself again—a new, mature version of yourself. And, as a new year begins, there is no better time for a fresh start and to gain more self-love.
- Let yourself FEEL.
Every emotion. Every thought. As painful as it may be in the moment, I promise you, it’s important to acknowledge and process your feelings. There were moments I wanted to avoid feeling anything. I hated the continual thoughts, and I wanted to scream for it to end. But, it’s essential to allow yourself to understand why you feel the way you feel. At times, this felt like drinking sour medicine. But, letting yourself feel doesn’t have to mean sitting in bed, rethinking every word your ex may have said to you. Reading psychology books and watching ted-talks about relationships and breakups allowed me to better process and rationalize the breakup. It allowed me to validate my feelings and understand that what I was feeling was incredibly normal.
2. Have some “me” time
While the initial stages may hurdle around trying to understand reasons for a breakup or what may have caused someone to fall out of love with you – try your best not to delve too deeply. Don’t shun your emotions, but recognize that this time is for YOU. It is natural to hold on to the ‘why’ and be desperate to gain an answer. You can’t control how or why people feel the way they feel. So, try your best not to internalize the dialogue you had with your ex. Remember that you have the power to take control of your reactions and cultivate compassion towards yourself. This is YOUR time of healing, and you remain the protagonist of your story.
3. Let go of traditional ‘rules.’
I probably did everything I ‘wasn’t supposed to.’ Text an ex. Send the ‘I miss you’ texts. Talk to mutual friends about the breakup. The mainstream no-nos. But do I regret it? No, absolutely not. Because, in that moment of healing, that’s what I felt like I needed to do. I let myself feel everything I needed to feel – anger, resentment, sadness, and even gratitude. Unless your ex was an actual toxic piece of shit, don’t feel the pressure to suddenly block them or cut them out of your life because everyone around you said so. Dive inwards, and trust your gut. You may also experience internal pressure to ‘get over it’ and put a specific time limit on your emotions. Don’t. You will naturally jump over this hurdle, so let time help you with the healing. Finally, don’t feel pressured to suddenly start new projects or take up every hobby ever – especially if all you want to do right now is simply be.
4. Check-in with yourself.
I can’t stress this one enough. Check-in. See what your body craves, and nourish it. It needs you right now. Try your best to self-soothe. Secondly, use affirmations to reinforce positive self-talk. Initially, these statements might feel awkward or unnatural, but as each day passes, you’ll find yourself learning to rewire your splintered self-worth. Additionally, talk it out. It may not be possible for your friends or family to fully understand what you’re going through. But, don’t allow that to make you feel even more alone in the process. Consider external guidance, such as therapists or counselors during this time, to help you find new strategies to cope healthily.
5. Focus on the takeaways (the good and the bad)
Reflect, because there’s no better time for it than now. Understand what your most significant learnings from this relationship have been. In some ways, we unconsciously become less authentic to appear more desirable for our partner. Some relationships can also mute our values/beliefs and pay less attention to our emotional needs. Growing up, I always viewed relationships as a means of ‘completing’ you – and that’s where my emotional dependency brewed and perhaps stained a relationship. It’s an excellent time to learn what you truly sought in yourself, a future partner, or a future relationship.
Finally, be patient with yourself. This was the hardest thing to do for me. Maybe you messed up, or maybe your ex did – or maybe no one did. Remember that you’re human, and your ex is human too. No one has the perfect blueprint of how to act or what to say. But, over time, you will learn to let go and forgive. You will feel lighter. Progress will never be a linear process. There will be days where you feel empowered and motivated – and suddenly, you could feel demoted again. This is simply a part of the process. Don’t beat yourself up over it.
Moreover, letting go doesn’t have to mean showing everyone around you that you’re so over the relationship, and you’re okay. It’s okay to be vulnerable; it’s okay to hurt. Letting go doesn’t have to mean showing the world you’re single – especially if you know deep down, you’re not ready for anything new. Letting go doesn’t have to mean gaining validation from everyone around you that your ex was officially the worst person ever (unless they were, then good riddance). Validate yourself. Validate your emotions. Your emotions are valid. Your hurt is valid.
It might be your first heartache or your third. Regardless, it may not be your last. While breakups are awful, love is still beautiful. There is always something exciting about loving another human and building a deep connection with them. Don’t use heartache to isolate yourself, and to ‘never get into another relationship.’ Don’t reinforce such negative feelings. Everything you’re going through is normal, and you will get through it.
Leaving a relationship with another person means you’re in the perfect stage to enter a new, refined relationship with yourself. Promise to commit to yourself, and show up for yourself.
Sending a whole load of love to whoever needed this – you’re going to be okay.