I wrote this about 4 years ago for a friend and have shared it with friends since. Recently, I was encouraged to post it here.
I know you’re hurting too I am sending you a huge hug right now. Breakups are like deaths — they’re really really painful and they take time to get through. It gets better. I promise.
I can share some insights and things that worked for me with my break up. They weren’t magic bullets for me and they won’t be for you, but they did take the edge off. I feel like I am in a much healthier space as a human than I have ever been and I never would have thought or said that even two months ago.
Know your friends love you, you are an amazing, smart and beautiful woman and this is your ex’s loss. I fundamentally believe he will regret this one day as he realizes what he lost. Whether he does or doesn’t doesn’t matter — he doesn’t deserve you.
So here’s what helped me, perhaps it can help you too even if it all doesn’t quite apply exactly to your circumstances;
- Clean break / zero communications — cut all ties unfriend, delete, purge photos, social media presence, sever all forms of communication (email, phone, text, im, fb, twitter, etc… this goes for fb-, google- and social media-searching/stalking) with him or even his friends. Promise yourself you will not talk to him or respond to any form of communication from him. If you’re in any form of contact with him, then kindly write him, “I am not ready to be in touch with you. Perhaps in the future we can be in touch, but I need some time and I respectfully ask you not to contact me”. This goes for passive (Google-stalking) and proxy communication.
- Purge & let go get rid of everything physical you associate with him or that he gave you. if he has things of yours, ask to get them once. If there are still things — be they of value or not, let them go. Buy a new one or choose to live without it. Physical things are not worth emotional suffering.
- Don’t ask why. It’s not material — wanting to know why or to explain is the most natural thing in the world. I wracked my brain with the ex left me. I was livid. But as I stepped back from it, I asked myself, if I knew why, would I take her back? The answer was no. So I gradually stopped asking why because it wouldn’t materially change my situation and I focused on letting go
- Reclaim old haunts- this is a hard one and it takes tons of courage. Everything will remind you of the ex. I decided to start going to the yoga class on monday nights that we used to go to together. I knew that if didn’t take it back as mine, I would be giving her power and living helplessly. This class has helped me in every way shape and form. I’ve got full range of motion back on the knee that was operated on, it’s provided me with tools to calm and quiet my busy mind and I am now friends with the lovely teacher and i’ve met a bunch of amazing people there
- Reconnect with friends — this was my biggest regret of my last two relationships — I focused on that for the last several years to the point of excluding my amazing friends. I made a very conscious attempt to reconnect with everyone and it’s paid off. you guys have been amazing, you in particular, planning that bday party at my place, always being here and lending me an empathetic ear. even though i was deeply sad and angry, I found so much gratitude and strength in our relationships and how you guys were just there for me. I’ve set that intent that if and when i get in another relationship — i am going to maintain my current level of social engagement. That will be healthier not only for me, for whomever it is I end up with but also for the relationship. I will encourage my future partner to do the same.
- #occupyyourself — get busy. this is a short term coping mechanism. basically a pain-killer to get you through the post-traumatic stress of the breakup. View it as a bridge to getting yourself to a place where you can be with your sadness. For me this meant going out every night every night of the week and hanging out with anyone who was around. It took the edge for sure and went I got through this phase, I was able to;
- Face grief I literally was sad almost every day from February to April. Sometimes randomly and a little or sometimes deliberately and a lot. While I still have my moments, I am just not that sad any more because I faced it and I got the sadness out.
- Plan in January, less than two weeks shy of sundance film festival, I pulled together a house of 10 people of my own even though I was not feeling like organizing anything. I did it anyway and it helped me reconnect with a couple of old friends but also become really good friends with people who were former acquaintances…I now see these folks regularly and count them among my good friends. now I am on their social radar (among others) and i am often double or triple booked on weekends. I don’t even have to plan as much now because I am back in the social orbit.
- Indulge — you get to do whatever you want now. Spend your money how you want. Travel where you want. Get as many spa treatments as you want. Learn an instrument or how to code or well ANYTHING. Change your wardrobe. Buy yourself something. You’re hurting, you need a break. So indulge.
- Think of how free you are right now. That is truly amazing and empowering and for me inspired gratitude. Being alone ain’t so bad. Whoever said that happiness is tied to relationships? I’ve always thought that I’d be happier with someone else, but quite frankly, as much as I was in love, during the last year of our relationship I felt really held back like I couldn’t fully be myself or I had to hold back in every regard. Now I am me and I feel great!
- Faith — not in the second coming but in the fact that there is a logic in everything whether you believe this in the religious sense or in the sense of the universe. I fully believe that everything is as it should be — even if I don’t understand it or am prone to argue against it — eventually I am able to see the logic and I am grateful for how things are in this moment.
- Be ready to be surprised — when you don’t expect it — amazing things will happen. This could be anything — an amazing insight, a cathartic release of anger or sadness or an amazing, hot, smart and cool dude stopping to help you fix your flat and asking for your phone number. I can’t promise when but I can promise there’s no if.
I am probably leaving a few things out — but I hope that offers you some insight. remember everything you’re feeling is 100% natural, normal and the function of someone who truly loved and gave herself to someone else. that is a beautiful thing and many folks (like your ex) can’t really do that. that’s a gift and it feels so painful when you give that and it’s spurned. trust me, there is some there who will give back to you in spades.