Unfortunately, this past month has not been an easy one for me, and if you’ve read the title of this post already, I’m sure you can guess why. My boyfriend of nearly 3 years and I parted ways this November. It was a somewhat mutual decision, but also somewhat not. I think we both knew that there were a LOT of problems in our relationship, and we were both dealing with a lot of external stresses from our own separate lives, and taking them out on each other. However, the reason I say it was also not mutual was because I personally felt that our relationship and our love for each other was far more important than all the other crap life could throw at us, and that we should try to deal with our issues head on instead of running away from them, especially after sharing so much together. However, he didn’t feel the same way, and just wanted to end it, so we did. Because of this, I took the breakup extra hard. It felt like I had lost not only the love of my life, but also my best friend, at the drop of the hat, and it stung extra because it felt like I cared more about him than he did about me. While that may or may not have been true, I had to come to realize that I was not alone in this feeling. Virtually everyone on earth has gone through, is going through, or will eventually go through this exact pain that I was feeling. I needed to let myself know that there was a light at the end of the tunnel, even though it was going to be near impossible to see for a very long time.
So here are some ways that I am currently trying to move up and on, and better myself after heartbreak. I want to share them with all of you, in case some of you might need them.
1. Allow Yourself to Experience Your Emotions
Don’t try to deny them, stifle them, or push them down, this will eventually only end up making you feel worse. It’s a cataclysmic time in your life, and you are going to feel sad, mad, hurt, and a lot of other things. Identify each emotion as it comes in, experience it in full, and then let it pass when it’s ready, like a wave (I find that imagery in itself to be extremely soothing, watching the waves rolling on a body of water is extremely refreshing and calming to me!). It’s important to remember not to BE your emotions, but just to FEEL them. Your emotions do not define you as a person, they are merely a language that your body uses to communicate with you, so listen!
2. Record your Feelings in a Journal
You might find that after a breakup, you are left with a lot of things that you never got the chance to communicate. While it might be a good idea in some circumstances to communicate them to the person, in most cases, especially in the early stages, it’s best to avoid contact as much as possible. This is where writing everything down comes in. It doesn’t have to be pretty. It doesn’t even have to be coherent. It just has to come from you. As an exercise, write out a letter to your ex, and then don’t send it. Even if you don’t actually say all these things to them, just the act of writing them out will help you to purge all those left over, existing, unfinished thoughts and emotions.
You might even find it helpful to start a gratitude journal, to practice positive thinking. Each day, write down 5 things, people, or experiences that you are grateful for, and you may find that your negative frame of mind starts to turn around all by itself.
3. Distract Yourself with Things you Love Doing
One of the hardest parts about the whole breakup experience for me has been not being able to think about anything else. Virtually everything reminded me of him, and the fact that I couldn’t get a moment of peace and quiet from my own mind was enough to drive me insane, many times over. This is why I found that one of the most integral components of healing was to distract myself with doing things I love. And even though I had been depressed for so long and had lost a lot of the passion for many of these things, I found that just doing them anyway was enough to take my mind elsewhere, even for just a short time.
Try to remember what it is in life that brings you joy, and immerse yourself in it. For me, that’s art. I love to make art of all kinds. Painting, drawing, graphic design, photography, jewelry making, even knitting! I immersed myself in all kinds of projects, both big and small. I decided to hand make all of my christmas gifts from scratch, and that has taken up a GOOD chunk of time. I also worked hard on another passion project, which was designing and launching my own line of handmade jewelry (which you can see here!), and was able to make that dream a reality. To be able to distract myself with hobbies and shut off my brain was SUCH a relief and very beneficial.
4. Reach Out to Loved Ones
This is something I struggle with a lot of the time. Whenever I go through hard times, I tend to close myself off from the rest of the world. However, this also tends to drive me even further towards the brink of insanity! Thankfully, at the time of my breakup, one of my closest friends happened to be looking for an apartment. So when the boyfriend moved out, she moved in. It’s been extremely helpful to have someone to talk to, or even just a shoulder to cry on when I need one, and I can to the same thing for her when needed!
A lot of the time, we think that no one will understand what it is we’re going through, and it’s true, they may not understand all of it, but chances are, our loved ones have been through similar situations, and can offer advice (when solicited of course, because a lot of the time, I did NOT want to hear it!), or words of affirmation. But even if they can’t, its very nice to be able to have someone to lean on for support, so you don’t have to feel completely alone during such a difficult time.
5. Adopt Some New, Healthy Habits
It is a time of great change, but that doesn’t have to be a completely negative thing. Perhaps now is the time to adopt some new, more positive habits. Maybe it’s time to get back into an exercise routine, or a healthier diet. A lot of times, when we get comfy in a relationship, we let ourselves go, only to find that when the relationship ends, that we’ve been sitting on a lot of bad habits. Additionally, when going through grief, it’s really easy to sit and sulk, and turn to things like junk food or Netflix binges for comfort. Let me warn you now, its a slippery slope! Use this time of change as a springboard to launch yourself into making a change for the better!
6. Don’t Be Afraid To Take Some “Me” Time
This is probably the most important piece of advice I could give! A lot of the time, when in a very intense, very committed, long-term relationship, you can lose track of your own identity, or sense of self. This definitely happened to me. For three years, I saw myself as part of a pair, and therefore when I saw my future, I was always accounting for him as well. When the breakup happened, I lost track of who *I* was, outside of just being somebody’s girlfriend.
Take some time to get re-acquainted with *you* again, because you are an amazing person, and that’s somebody worth knowing!
If you are going through a breakup right now, just know that even though it feels like the absolute end of the world right now, just know, you are not alone! You are an amazing person, and you deserve to feel like you again, no matter how long it takes!
Feel free to offer your support for others in the comments below!