Break-up Survival

Breaking up with someone is as fun as food poisoning, and even worse if it wasn’t your choice…

photo: shutterstock

Having not only survived, but thrived through my own divorce, I wanted to pass on some advice and hope that you will pass on your experiences further down the line to someone else in need. It’s fair to say that each person who goes through a break-up will have a different experience and will cope in different ways. I just want to assure you that although it may feel like your whole world has imploded and you are in physical pain from the heart-break you have suffered, you will get through this.

Whether you have been living with someone for a year or have been married to the love of your life for 16 years, I just want you to take a deep breath and consider the following:

  1. It’s Okay To Cry

I remember feeling completely overwhelmed and shocked by my ex-husband’s actions when we split. I cried for days, I mean days… I didn’t sleep, friends and family would visit and I would compose myself for a few short hours, then BOOM, it hit me like a ten-ton truck and I would sob till I was exhausted. It’s ok to cry and feel hurt. One of my closest friends, who I’ve known since I was a teen, came to stay with me in my new rented flat after leaving my marital home. She told me I had 3 days left to cry, then that was it. I had to stop, reassess my life and move forward. Best advice I’d had in the six weeks since the shock departure of my marriage.

Give yourself that time to cry, get it all out of your system — I’m talking 3 days maximum, then it’s deep breath and time to plan an exciting new future with the best person in your life — YOU! Watch sad films, cry to music, wrap yourself up in bed and wallow if you want to. Alternatively, spend time with family and friends and do things that make you happy!

2. Acknowledge What You Are Going Through

Breaking up with someone you love is similar to grieving a loss. Recognise that it’s OK to have different feelings. It’s normal to feel sad, angry, exhausted, frustrated, and confused — and these feelings can be intense. You may also feel anxious about the future. Accept that reactions like these will lessen over time. Even if the relationship/marriage was unhealthy, venturing into the unknown is frightening. Remind yourself that you still have a future — When you commit to another person, you create many hopes and dreams. It’s hard to let these dreams go. As you grieve the loss of the future you once envisioned, be encouraged by the fact that new hopes and dreams will eventually replace your old ones.

3. Stay Off Social Media

I mean it! Do not go stalking your ex on social media as I guarantee what you’ll find won’t make it easier to heal. If your ex is starting afresh with a new beau and they are happily posting selfies and announcing their new love together, hold back on commenting or writing cryptic status updates about how hurt you are and what they did to you. Try to keep your dignity in tact. It may be that you and your ex just weren’t compatible and there is no-one else involved, but telling the world and their dog via social media only makes you look unhinged.

Just don’t post something you’ll regret 6 months down the line when you may have met someone else and they look you up and see that you went a bit psycho when your last relationship ended.

4. Get Your Support Network Sorted

If you are about to navigate divorce, make sure you choose a professional support team that is right for you. This could include; a solicitor, private investigator (if you need one) and/or a counsellor. Your friends and family will be a great support in your time of need, but just remember, their job is to soothe you and make you feel loved, but they will be too close to your situation. Get an emotional support team who can advise you and teach you coping mechanisms.

5. Focus On The Positives

It’s probably easier for me to say ‘focus on the positives’, as I am over 4 years in to being a divorcee. I have been through the rollercoaster of emotions where one minute all you can think about is the good times and how you wish you were still together and then you remember the pangs of raw anger when that person made you feel worthless or worse.

I lost everything (financially, personally, emotionally) but I have gained a whole lot more. I am the designer of my life. There are no compromises. I have rebuilt my shattered self-worth and created a life where I wake up grateful with what I have and who I have in my life.

If you get lost trying to find your positives, write down a list of negatives about how that person has made you feel or what dreams were suppressed in compromises you made in your relationship… then write down a list of positive things and people who bring you joy.

7. Healing Takes Time

Unfortunately there is no quick fix for a broken heart and it’s not easy going through a legal separation as you can’t get a clean break for at least six months.

Some people would advise that you need a new relationship to get over the last one, but in my experience this just complicated matters in my heart and head and left me feeling more vulnerable.

Find activities that quieten the mind. This could be escaping in a new book or hobby, or going out clubbing and having the time of your life. You will know what you need. I found meditation classes helpful as my mind was racing at 100 miles an hour, trying to work out the when, where and how my relationship broke down and what part I had played in the failure of my marriage. I found real peace at a retreat in Mexico. I know it’s not something everyone can afford, but this was the start of my healing process — letting go of the negatives, reconnecting with myself and coming to the realisation that actually I am ok with who I am and what I have to offer the world.

However you choose to navigate your way through a break-up, just remember to stay positive, believe in yourself and good things will happen. You are not alone.

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