There’s no sugar coating it. Break-ups suck. They FUCKING suck. Whether the break-up is mutual or not, break-ups are bound to cause you some (maybe a lot of) heartache. They will definitely cause a change you may or may not welcome. And they will cause a shit-ton of confusion. And ain’t nobody got time for that.
Because I am a huge nerd, whenever I have gone through a break-up I have desperately wished a how-to book on how to get up and get over your now ex-partner existed. Now that I’m a little older and just a little tiny bit wiser, I have made some realizations about this whole break-up mess that have helped me power through the heartbreak and endless barrage of questions.
I obviously know that everyone’s breakup is different. Thus, this article will only help so much. Unfortunately, by the time you finish reading this article, you will not be over your ex (but here’s to hoping). These are things that worked for me. Some may help you, some may make you say, “You have no earthly idea what you’re talking about.” All your reactions are okay. And it’s totally okay that you are here in the middle of this moment of what feels like despair in your life. It’s all going to be okay, I promise. (Cue all your “fuck off” eye-rolling reactions here, but keep reading).
- The beginning of the end is the hardest, and it will get worse before it gets better. Accept that now.You’re here. It happened. Shit has hit the fan and you are now forced to have everything around you change. There’s no running away from it. So embrace it. The scariest part is the unknown, not the actual being alone part. I’m not going to lie. Typically, it’s going to hurt more and harder before you start feeling better but if you’re armed with that knowledge now, you won’t be surprised by it. Be comforted by the fact that it happened and guess what? The world didn’t stop spinning. You didn’t stop breathing. You didn’t lay down and give up. It hurts like a bitch, but you’re still standing.
- Spend a lot, a lot, A LOT of time with people you love and who love you back. Did I mention a lot?
- Reconnect with YourselfRemember who you were before this break-up. Remember who you wanted to be. Remember who that little girl or little boy or little human dreamed of becoming. Are you still in touch with that dream? What can you do to get back to it?
- Reconnect with old friends and acquaintances. Hell, make some new friends!I feel that I have always been blessed in the friendship department. I do have a lot of friends I love and that have stuck by my side. And thank goodness that they chose to stick with me. Whether it’s intentional or not, when you’re in a relationship, you tend to neglect your friends more often than not. At least I did. I neglected them entirely too much. But when I came out of the relationship, my friends didn’t miss a beat. They were there to catch me when I felt like shit. They made me laugh. They didn’t call me out for not hanging out with them as often as I used to. And that made me love them even more.
- Try things you’ve never done before or things you’ve always wanted to tryTry a new recipe (or just learn to cook something if you’re anything like me in the kitchen) or take up learning to make cool cocktails or sign up for classes to learn how to play an instrument. Just get out of your head and busy yourself with something new.
- Ask yourself who and what kind of person you want to become.Then spend a lot of time discovering ways to become this – your highest and best self. Journaling helps so that you don’t forget your goals and ideas. Talking to a therapist helps. Meditating helps.
- Try not to date right away.Go back to #6. You can’t figure out who your highest, bestest true self is if you’re sharing your time and amazing personality with someone else. Remember, in order to give to others, you must be overflowing yourself.
- Don’t tell yourself you’re over him/her/they if you are not. It’s okay not to be.You’ll get there. The day will come when they are not the first thing that pops into your head in the morning. There is no rush to be over this person. Take your time healing. Also, remember that healing is not a fast, magical, relaxing time. Healing is painful and dirty and hard. But healing makes you stronger.
- Don’t call them. Don’t stalk their socials. Out of sight, out of mind. Stalking them will never bring you joy, so why even do it? Block, block, block!
- Work on that negative thinking so you don’t get eaten alive by anger/negativity/depression/sad shit in general!Okay, I’m going to get a little personal here, but I have to do so in order to explain how this vital step works. When I started recognizing that I was finally getting over my break-up, I began noticing that little venomous thoughts about my ex would creep into my brain. These thoughts would then snowball into more and more negative thoughts until I was fucking pissed about things I remembered or some new scenario I had created in my head that wasn’t even real. Then I would get mad at myself because I would remind myself that THIS RELATIONSHIP IS OVER AND NONE OF THIS MATTERS AND I WASTED TIME EVEN THINKING ABOUT THIS. Other times, just my ex’s name would pop into my head and a slew of curse words would follow because I was livid. Again, I felt angry at my waste of energy on these thoughts. It was a vicious cycle.
- I began to be more patient with myself. When a negative thought came into my mind, I tried to catch it as early as possible, take a deep breath, and tell myself it’s okay to feel angry but I had to let this thought go. Imagine your thoughts are like clouds. You can’t control them as they come into your head, but you can control how much you focus on them. Just because a thought comes into your brain, it doesn’t make it true. Make it a point to observe these “clouds” and just let them pass by.
- Bonus challenge: I talked to my therapist about this and she encouraged me to take it even one step further. Whenever I had a negative thought and my anger would come tumbling out right after it, rather than just observing my feelings and moving on with my day, she told me to stop and also ask myself, “Why do you feel this way?” Then I had to answer my question so I could validate my feelings. For example, if I thought, “Homeboy is a really bad dude” (but in much more explicit and unsavory terms that I will not get into here) then I had to answer, Why is he a bad dude? And then I would think, “Because he did or didn’t do so and so and it really hurt my feelings.” I know this sounds like a lot of work, but this process helped me realize that my feelings of anger were justified and understanding why I was angry also helped me realize that sad part of my life is over and I’m content right where I am because I no longer have to deal with it.
- Talk to a Therapist.I honestly don’t shut up about this, I know. I’ve talked about finding a therapist before. You can check out that article here if you’d like.
- Just be sad.My biggest problem has always been the fear of sitting still in the silence and letting the waves of sadness completely wash over you. That sounds poetic, but it’s actually the most hurtful shit ever. You gotta feel it to heal it. And, again, a lot of us are under the impression that healing is magical and full of candles and incense and flowy clothing. But healing is hard work. It’s dirty and rough and you have to dig through the mess to find the root of your pain to make that pain stop. Allow yourself to be vulnerable. Allow yourself to sit with your heartbreak, because if you don’t, it will catch up to you and manifest itself one way or another, in multiple different ways. It can manifest itself through misplaced anger or in your next relationship. Some days are going to hurt like hell, and some moments are going to feel like you can’t even breath because it aches so much. Some days you’re going to cry more than you thought you possibly could. You will ugly cry, you will cry loudly, you will cry in the shower. Just accept it and let your body react the way it needs to. All of that excess energy needs to be released, so don’t be afraid of it. There is a misconception that to cry or to feel things equates to weakness, but I think that’s completely wrong. Allowing yourself to face that pain is what makes you brave. Knowing your heart is going to crack in different places and being courageous enough to say, “I’m still going to feel this and accept it and honor it” is what allows good change to happen. Growing up hurts, and accepting changes hurts. But being strong enough to endure it instead of running away from it is what makes all the difference and allows true healing to happen.
- Forgive them and have compassion. This one is HARD! How do you forgive someone who broke your heart and why would you even want to anyway?! Here are the answers: You forgive someone who broke your heart for yourself, not for them, and you forgive them by finding compassion for them. I still struggle with this, but it’s a constant battle I try to win. Staying angry with someone and refusing to forgive them is a slow poisonous death to you, not to them. Release that pain by remembering this person as a child – they know not what they do. I know that’s weird, but it’s easier to have compassion for someone when you remember we’re all just out here trying to do our best. You may not like this one, but I promise it’s the most rewarding one.
- Be grateful.Be grateful for life. For your health. For every moment. Life is so beautiful and full of adventures. Don’t stay stuck in this one bad thing that happened. Learn from it, release it, and carry on being mindful that this will only help us grow.