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.
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.
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.
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.