How to Deal with a Breakup
Let's get personal... We can learn so much from each other's human experiences. I was inspired by a friend of mine openly sharing and reflecting on his journey post-divorce. It showed me I have a long way to go, but I found it so helpful just to see someone else going through similar things. Maybe my experience will be relatable to you and you can feel less alone.
I said we were getting personal here, so I'll be sharing my point of view of the relationship. Let me be clear that I dealt with a fairly amicable split, and I tell you that because I believe it makes a huge difference. If you are wronged by your partner: lied to, cheated on, something potentially even worse, it can be hard to forgive. And forgiveness is an important first step, and often one of the more challenging hurdles. But whether you were the initiator of the breakup or on the receiving end, we all have obstacles to getting back to our own normal.
My breakup stemmed from many issues I don't think are very relevant to the purpose of this post, but it was mainly long distance. Count me in as one of the failed long distance relationships I'm sure we've all heard and been warned about. Being away from the person you love is a special kind of torture and it is bound to wreak havoc on your bond. As visits became harder to book and the financial hardships were mounting, the stress levels didn't subside. I saw the cracks beginning to form and tried to come up with a plan. I'll share my reflections on long distance in another post. But, ultimately what it came down to is I saw my relationship starting to fall apart. I tried to save it knowing in the back of my mind it probably wasn't going to work. I couldn't make my partner do something beyond his capabilities, but I wasn't going to give up. It wasn't easy, but he made the tough decision for us to go our separate ways. We ended our conversation with "I love you", so when I say it was amicable, this is what I mean.
All of that being said, my tips for getting through a split are:
1. Let yourself feel your emotions. If you're angry, sad, feeling abandoned, scared about the future, frustrated, disappointed, or just completely lost, feel it. Cry, punch a pillow, eat your comfort food, stay in bed, let yourself wallow for a moment. I cried. I fell out of my routine. I called into work and took a personal day. All of that is okay, and I'm better now for letting myself go through it. I started writing everything I wanted to say to him and everything I felt in a journal or in the notes on my phone as my outlet. The key to this step is setting a time to stop. I'm not saying I don't cry occasionally when I talk about it, and I don't have some weak moments. But after the initial first week or so, I started moving through my process. Whatever timing feels right for you, set it and feel your emotions. Pretending you're okay when you're not will set yourself up for an emotional break later.
2. Do something nice for yourself. Do something that is just for you. I'm starting to do lots of creative projects (like this one), planning a vacation by myself somewhere and making plans for my future. I even dyed my hair a new color because I felt like a change. I just wanted to do some things that would bring me happiness and I didn't have to consult anyone. I'm very lucky to have friends who have embraced me and invited me out to keep me busy and smiling. As much as I wanted to stay home and throw myself a pity-party, I said yes, got ready and ended up feeling so much better spending time with those people I had been guilty of relationship-neglecting. (a term I use when you don't see your friends because you spend most of your time with your significant other) Just find some things to do that your future-self will thank you for.
3. Stay healthy. Breakup colds are real you guys! Both of us ended up with one the day after our breakup. Mine lasted a few days of feeling crummy with a cough and sinus issues. Getting physically ill after a breakup is common. Some people lose their appetites and don't eat causing all sorts of problems. The stress of a breakup can REALLY mess with your hormones and send your body into a tailspin. If you find yourself losing your appetite or with a yucky cold like I did, get some rest, take down some chicken noodle soup, drink water (re-hydrate from all that dang crying), and be kind to yourself. Go on some walks, get fresh air, enjoy some time outdoors. I started going to spin class more regularly. I find I can get some real pent up frustration out on that bike! Exercise is your body's natural mood booster, so take advantage of those endorphins.
4. Reflect. Once you feel yourself getting to a good place post-breakup, reflect on your relationship. Think about the ways you've grown and the things you've learned not only about yourself, but being in a relationship. My word of caution is to do this exercise objectively. I don't recommend doing this while you're still in step 1. It's too soon after the split and you're still grieving a loss and a future you envisioned with your partner. It will cloud your thoughts and taint your true learnings. Reflection is what is going to make you a better person and a better partner to someone in the future.
5. Don't put pressure on yourself. Everyone will have their own timeline of grieving, reflecting and moving on. Don't put pressure on yourself to do any of this more quickly than you're ready to or to find someone new to replace your ex. There is no hard and fast guide. You will go through your process in your own way and in your own time. Just like everyone has their way of processing grief in death, the end of relationship will take its own shape for you. Focus on yourself and doing things that make you happy and healthy. Good things are bound to happen when you have a positive outlook on life.
I hope you find something in here helpful if you're struggling with a breakup. Everything I'm feeling is still very raw, but I'm very lucky to be able to have so much support and an outlet to get it all out. Learn from the hard times and things will get better. I promise... until next time!