Aug 172011
 

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Heartbreak is universal. It’s something we ALL go through at one point or another.  Sometimes heartbreak is caused by hurtful words, an increase in distance between two people, a difficult situation, illness or death.  Most commonly in our society, we think about heartbreak from a romantic relationship POV.

Because heartbreak is so universal, it’s my opinion that heartbreak shouldn’t be compared and contrasted.  No one person should look at another and think, “my heartbreak was worse than your heartbreak.”  It doesn’t matter if you were together for 10 years or for 10 days – heart break is heart break.

Don’t belittle your relationship, your experience, your feelings, and your history by thinking that your relationship and break up was less of a “big deal” than that of anyone else’s.  In the same token, don’t get all ridiculous and think that your break-up was a “bigger deal” than anyone else’s.  Pain is pain, and we’ve all felt it.  We can all relate. Heartbreak is just about as human as experiences get.

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It’s not uncommon for me to receive emails asking for advice and support following a break-up.  After all, this blog was started as a place for healing and growth after my own broken engagement.  As a matter of fact, “broken engagement” (or some similar phraseology) is one of the most popular Google searches leading to THS.

The First Five Things I’ll Tell You When You Ask for Post-Break-Up Advice

1) Don’t apologize for your emotions.  Not to your ex, or your parents, or your friends, and especially not yourself.  You are probably going to feel 100 different feelings in the next few days – sadness, exhaustion, anger, frustration, brokenness, hope, confusion, and so many more.  ALLOW YOURSELF TO WORK THROUGH THEM; do not turn away from any of the emotions – they are ALL important. Even (and ESPECIALLY) the emotions that don’t seem to make sense to you.  If you find yourself feeling happy or light hearted at some point, go ahead and embrace it.

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2) Write down what you are feeling.  Keep a journal, even if it’s just a stack of note cards or a spiral notebook. You don’t need to make time to write in it for hours at once – instead, just carry it with you and if you think of ONE THOUGHT – one sentence – or even one WORD that holds meaning to you and what you are feeling right now, WRITE IT DOWN.  Get it out, onto that paper.  You will thank yourself, if not immediately, eventually.

3) Understand that you can not control any aspect of your ex’s life.  The truth is, every relationship has two people – and we can only control ourselves and our own thoughts, feelings, and reactions.  Your ex is probably dealing with things that he/she can’t even explain at this point. (I know I go through things DAILY that I can’t understand until WEEKS if not MONTHS later, myself.  I personally think it’s part of being human and, even more so, American.)

If your ex doesn’t want to be with you, there is nothing you can do about that but look forward into the future.  It may sound harsh, and extremely cliché, but if he/she doesn’t see you in his life anymore, than you have to move on.  Eventually, in time, you will learn that there are other “fish in the sea” and more importantly, you will find someone that DOES want to be with you; both in the now and the imagined later.

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4) All that said – take this time for YOU.  What are the goals you are currently working towards?  What new goals may you want to set now that you have extra time and energy without this relationship in your life?  This is YOUR TIME.  When my wedding was called off, the best thing I did was look at my life and begin to examine what in it I wanted to change. I no longer had to do certain things that I may have enjoyed a little bit, but was really doing because he wanted to do them. I started training for a race.  I found new hobbies and rediscovered old ones.  I wrote. A LOT.  I became a tourist in my own town.  I did THINGS.  Get out there and do something with yourself.

5) In the same breath, of course there were days I did “nothing” –I stayed in bed and watched The West Wing on DVD, laid on the floor and stared at the ceiling and even just sat in the corner and cried – these days are important, too.

You know how some people look at healthy eating as an 80/20 split?  They eat super healthy 80% of the time, and then allow themselves to eat “not so healthy” 20%?  I suggest the same theory when it comes to how you spend your time/energy after a break up.  Personally, I allowed myself to be weepy, depressed, irrational, sappy, or blue 20% of the time.  I chose to keep on living my life – BETTER THAN EVER, mind you- the other 80% of the time.

The way I see it – I needed to remember that life was more than my ex.  That the worst consequence of the break up was emotional.  No one died. No one was physically hurt.  No one was in harm’s way.  I had a job. I had dreams.  I had a roof over my head. (Although, I needed help to keep a roof over my head, at times.)  Life is for ME – my fiancé and our relationship was just extra.  I knew that if he was unhappy enough in our relationship to end it, then there was not only someone better out there for me – but also for him.  This is difficult to handle and think about, especially at first of course, but it’s also true.

  19 Responses to “Advice for the Broken Hearted: Part 1”

  1. I love your posts – they are so helpful and true. The one thing that I find very confusing when dealing with a broken heart are the rainbow of emotions I feel every day. One day I wake up feeling hopeless and desperate and I just want him back, the next day I wake up and I am oh so angry and I feel strong and independent…until the next day. I thought that I should make up my mind, I should know what to do but I still don’t. And I feel better knowing that’s ok.
    Thank you for another beautiful post!

  2. Love this!
    Michelle recently posted..Staying.

  3. This is such a lovely post and so very helpful. I think at some point everyone experiences heartbreak and grieving through it is essential. Thanks for sharing!
    Jenn recently posted..Saving Some Dough Part II

  4. “understand that you can not control any aspect of your ex’s life”

    so freaking true. i drove myself crazy for far too long after i broke up with my high school/college boyfriend. we were together for 6+ years, and i had a really hard time whenever i got an inkling that he might be interested in someone else or was doing something that clearly meant he was moving on. but i was working on moving on too. i had to remind myself that i was happy REGARDLESS of what he’s doing!
    sarah (sarah learns) recently posted..back to lab meals

  5. great post, heather! where was this when chris and I broke up? :)
    it’s still timely though
    Alexia (Dimple Snatcher) recently posted..B+ for good enough not excellent

  6. This post could not have come at a more perfect time. I received a text this morning ending my relationship.

  7. I (thankfully) have not been part of a breakup in many years, but your post truly is universal for anyone who has expereinced these feelings. In face, I’m going to pass it on to my sister who is struggling right now and I know your suggestions are perfect.

    PS West Wing on DVD… Best.Show…. Ever.

  8. you. are. SO RIGHT.

    p.s. “what his idiot friends say to hurt you doesn’t matter either.” (lesson obviously learned from my post last week, right?)

  9. Wonderful post. Thank you for your honesty & sharing of difficult moments in life. Heartbreak comes from many different sources throughout life. Most recently for me from grown children & their spouses.
    Remembering that I can only control myself & process my feelings helps.
    Thank you Heather for your many terrific posts. Carol

  10. I’m a bit new to your blog (even though I’ve been following you on Twitter forever!) and I simply LOVE this post. I’ve completely been there, and I’m passing this along to a friend who is going through this right now. Very well written!
    Raya recently posted..Kodak Photobook!

  11. Great tips, time helps and so does getting out there and trying new activities. Helped me so much!
    Mellissa recently posted..Wine Wednesday- Trout Springs Winery

  12. I loved reading this post. I think everything you said is really true, especially the sentiment of “all pain is the same”. I try to remind myself of that frequently, and that it’s ok for me to feel upset about something and not belittle it because it’s not as bad or as hard as someone elses ‘stuff’. I also try to think that everyone is going through, or has been through, something really hard in their lives…and that this is even more a reason to treat people with kindness. I also liked your comments about only being able to control your own feelings, thoughts, etc.
    Joanna recently posted..Fooducate Yourself

  13. *hug*
    LindseyAnn recently posted..525,600 minutes…

    • thank you, dear.

      total irony: i wrote this post weeks ago, and scheduled to have it published on the morning of August 17 – with no plan or purpose. Late that night, Nicholas and I broke up [which i do plan on writing about, soon.] – completely not at all planned, but as my friend Megan said – “Well. Thank the universe for that gift it just gave you.”

      Clearly I just needed to remember to take my own advice, right?

  14. Great article :) Thank you! Helpful in many aspects of life… not just relationships.

  15. This page couldnt have popped up for me at a better time, or should I say worse time. 2 years and now im completley lost, but however I know ill be better. this advice is wonderfullllll, thank you.

  16. You are a very strong and inspirational woman! I can relate to you on many levels although my story is different. After my divorce I thought my life was shattered. I slowly started training for my first half marathon and lost 80 lbs. I have tons of notebooks with all sorts of quotes, phrases and anger. I look back at them and it is amazing how far I have come. Thank you for sharing your story.

  17. […] are going through their own moving forwards.  To those of you who have found THS because of your broken heart, I want to encourage you with this:  it takes time.  It takes YOUR time.  Don’t let anyone […]

  18. Thank you for your blog. I am going through broken heart. Except, I was the one who broke of the relationship. I didn’t see any other way for long term happiness for both of us. I am in the 3rd week after breakup day and its sooo hard because right now I am having this sudden urge to make things like they were in the first 6 months of our relationship. I want him back in my life. I miss him. there are days I feel happy and strong and brave for making the decision that I did. But there are days I feel lonely, even when I am busy doing things for myself, I still miss him and can’t stop myself from thinking how I would be if he were by my side. I know its a cycle of emotions to go through. Hopefully, it will pass, but it hurts so bad…

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