Around this time last year, I got dumped. My girlfriend of two years (who I thought I might spend the rest of my life with), broke up with me. I can’t say I didn’t see it coming because things had been going sour between us for a while, but I was in complete denial. I made her my everything. And when it was over, I felt like I’d lost everything. The love of my life. My best friend. And myself.
Break ups are shitty. There is really no other way to say it. No silver lining. No looking on the bright side. It sucks no matter how you slice it. You try to keep yourself busy so you don’t think about them. You try to hold your tears in and stay strong. You give them back all of their stuff they have in “their drawer” at your house. You’re left with only the memories you carry of them in your mind.
I felt completely lost. I didn’t know who I was anymore or how I was going to move on. How was I going to get a milk & honey from Boomtown without feeling like falling apart? How was I going to volunteer at the brewery that we used to volunteer at without thinking of her? How was I going to make it through the work day without seeing a list of texts on my screen from her? How could I ever use the humpback whale emoji again?
I remember for the first month after the break up, I cried every single day. I would go to work and be just fine while I was there because I was busy. I had so many other things to focus on and other people who needed me. As soon as I walked out the door and into the parking lot, the tears would stream down my face. Like I’d been holding them in all day and my eyes couldn’t bear to keep them in any longer. I was a mess.
I find great comfort in writing and reading, I’m an English teacher for a reason. So of course I tried to find the healing process in literature first. I found lots of articles with lists entitled “How to Get Over a Break Up” and “How to Heal,” but the truth is, none of this really helped. I could never find a comprehensive guide. So I decided to write one myself. Here it is.
- Breathe and Cry
The best thing to do right after a break up is to just cry. You are going to cry. It is inevitable. It doesn’t do you any good to hold it in. Just let it out. Don’t beat yourself up for not being stronger. When you feel like crying, cry. When you don’t feel like crying anymore, stop and breathe. Realize that you might not smile again for a long time, but that eventually you will. Do not wallow, but let yourself feel things. Even if it hurts. And it will.
- Be gentle and patient with yourself
Realize that you are hurt. Realize that you need to heal. Realize that this is a long process. Do not let the tape of “what you could have done differently” play on repeat in your mind. Snap that tape in half. Take care of yourself. When you feel like crying, cry. When you feel like talking, talk. When you feel like taking a bath at 3 am, take a bath at 3 am. Do what you know makes you feel calm and realize that this is where you are now. You are here for a reason, even if you don’t understand what that reason is yet. You might know it later or maybe you won’t ever know it, but that’s okay.
- Talk about how you feel
Even if it hurts. And it will. It will singe a hole in what’s left of the heart that you had. It will start to piece things back together enough to have them ripped apart again. But it will help. Find someone you trust and love to talk to. They don’t have to be physically near you, they could be across the ocean. You will feel alone. You will feel like you have no one, but don’t forget about ALL of your friends. Even the ones that are far away from you in proximity. I sought refuge in so many of my friend’s ears and most of them were thousands of miles away. They are here for you too. Surround yourself with positive energy and people who make you better.
- Do what feels right
This is something that some of you might not agree with, but when a relationship ends, I feel it is pretty necessary to cut off most (if not all) communication with the person just so you can heal. You have to do what you know is best for you and if you don’t know what that is because you don’t know who you are anymore, do what feels right. Delete their number. Don’t see them out. Unfollow them on social media or take a break from it all together. Take all of the pictures and memories of them off your phone. This may take a while. This may hurt. Do what feels right to you. Maybe later on you guys can be friends, but for a while, you need space. You need room to learn how to be you again. Boundaries are important.
- Do something that makes you feel alive
The last thing that made you feel alive was probably that person. Do something that you know you love. Read a book. Write poetry. Go to the gym. Hang out with your friends. Go to Yoga. Create something. The hurt and pain has no where to go unless you give it a road out. From shit comes flowers, my friends. Do not slap a band aid on this ouchie and call it good. It is not good. Feel it all. Even if it hurts. And it will.
- Resist the urge to rescind
You are going to want to become a hermit crab. Resist this urge. After my break up, I felt like I didn’t have many friends because most of my friends within close proximity were my ex’s friends first. And I was completely mortified at the thought of running into her somewhere, so I wasn’t so great at this one. I am an introvert too, so that made this more difficult for me. But slowly, but surely, I started to venture out. I started to explore the city on my own. I started to make friends even though putting myself out there, wounded and vulnerable, wasn’t my idea of a good time. Baby steps and you’ll get there.
- Go outside
Breathe the fresh air. It will help. I promise.
Once you’ve gotten to this phase of the break up, you are going to want answers. You are going to want to go back through the relationship with a fine tooth comb and do a post-mortem. It’s okay to do this, as long as you are ready for it and are doing it to figure out what you learned from all of this. As corny as it sounds, you learn something from every experience, good and bad. Find out what you learned. Find out what you want to do differently next time. Do this step only when you are ready for it. Reflect and meditate on your growth.
- Move Forward With Compassion
Realize that nothing good comes from bad or negative energy. It doesn’t help or serve anyone to bash your ex, no matter how they treated you. It will not make you feel better. Doing this will only hold you back. Let go of your anger. All of it. Get to a place of compassion, whatever it takes to get you there. And move on. Figure out what you want your future to look like. Figure out what your next steps should be. There is so much ahead of you.
These are the steps I found most beneficial when I was going through my break up. It is going to hurt and you are going to wish you didn’t feel the way you did. But give it time. Be patient with yourself. Be kind to yourself. Give yourself room to grow and thrive.
If you’re experiencing a broken heart right now, I feel for you. A year ago, I was in your position, but right now I am the happiest and healthiest mentally I’ve ever been in my entire life. I am where I am because of my failed relationship and how I picked up the pieces afterward. Of course I still get sad sometimes and I still miss my ex at times, but I realize her involvement in my life was necessary. All of this had to happen for the universe to put me here, where I am now. Hang in there, loves. Things are going to get easier. I promise.