And this week for another fab guest post by Noorinayat (who also wrote this).
A breakup can be one of the hardest things you can go through, especially if it wasn’t on the nicest of terms or if you weren’t the one to initiate it.
It’s not just the pain, that can sometimes even manifest physically. It’s not just the emotional distress, the hurt, the sense of betrayal and abandonment. It’s not the sense of loss you feel as your strongest bond in broken, sometimes brutally, and you wade helplessly in a wide open sea of memories.
It’s that sometimes, you just don’t know what to do, how to be whole again, how to be yourself again after spending such a long time being a part of something built for two.
Navigating a break-up can be a very tricky business. Not trusting your internal compass, which has been thrown off by the turmoil you are going through, you seek outside help; luckily, there’s no dearth of advice on the internet about how to get over your breakup: Get your hair done, get a manicure, get fit, eat ice cream, get even more fit, eat even more ice cream. Some advice columns promise you that if you act a certain way, you’ll get him or her back. Others try to make you see what a jerk he or she was.
Yet others miss the mark entirely, telling you that if only you had done this or that, if only you hadn’t nagged, or shown insecurity and vulnerability, or demanded a show of commitment (God forbid), you wouldn’t have lost them.
Yeah, I’ve read all of it, and tried to follow some of the advice, and now I’d like to present you with ten tried and tested tips that’ll help you get over them (assuming that’s what you want to do). In (mostly) chronological order:
1. Cry. Don’t shut down. Cry it out if you feel like you want to, don’t be ashamed. Cry, shout, throw something at the wall if you have to (but please refrain from throwing things at the other person, seeing as that will probably end with being booked for assault charges). You need to let it out! Don’t keep it all inside you because it will weigh you down and burden you.
2. If you are to let this person go entirely, you have to mourn properly. Look through old letters and heartfelt poems, their thoughtful little gifts to you. Then throw all of that away (or keep it in the attic if you really can’t help it) and don’t look back.
3. Talk. Open up to your friends and relatives, yeah, the ones you barely spoke to while you were with your significant other. Talk, hang out, watch funny episodes of something, go to the beach, have brunch, go shopping. Make new memories with the people who were closest to you before you ever met the person you are now parted from. Reconnect with your family. If you feel like they can’t understand or that you want professional support, seek therapy.
An important addendum: surround yourself with positive, supportive people who make you happy. If someone in your life is bringing you down at this time, try to limit your contact with them until you are stronger.
An even more important addendum: your ex, by virtue of being an ex, is no longer part of your support system and you shouldn’t turn to them for comfort at this time. Sure, you might want closure, but in the case of a bad breakup it’s better to cut or at least minimize contact than to try to get answers from someone who wants to hurt you. But even if things were mutual, you have to start adjusting yourself to the fact that they are no longer part of your life and support system.
4. Do what you need to rebuild your sense of self-worth and regain your self-esteem, whatever that may be. A new haircut, nail polish, wearing sexy dresses for a week, flirting, dating (hopefully while steering clear of awkward rebound situations or of hurting someone who gets hooked on your when you’re emotionally unavailable) — do what it takes for you to emerge a stronger, more confident person.
5. Do what you need to reconnect with yourself. What keeps you occupied most of the time? What makes YOU happy? Throw yourself (for a while, don’t overdo it!) into your job, studies and hobbies and channel your hurt and anger into hard work. Not only will you feel more fulfilled and accomplished, you also might have a thing or two to add to your resume.
6. Express yourself. Fond of writing? Write down all the conflicting emotions you have been bombarded with since the breakup, the dreams, the memories, everything. Everything is ok: don’t judge yourself for the myriad thoughts you are thinking or for being confused. Just let it out. Are you more of a musician? Express yourself that way. You might just write a masterpiece!
7. Analyze. Instead of beating yourself up over what you could’ve/should’ve done to prevent the breakup, take a cold, hard look at the relationship itself. Was it what you thought it was? Was it healthy? Were you truly happy? Were your emotional and other needs being met? Was your partner supportive and respectful? Were they really right for you? Be as objective and honest as you can (friends/family/a therapist can help).
That said, it’s important not to get stuck for too long in the wallowing part. It’s hard to move on, but you need to find a way to start!
Once you can see your relationship in a more objective light, you might find that it wasn’t really the best thing for you (this might take a few months/years, but it is important to learn from the experience as well as move past it).
This rings true especially if the breakup was one-sided or nasty: someone who respects, loves and truly cares about you will not suddenly walk out on you one fine day. There’s no need to rationalize cruel, demeaning and disrespectful behavior by convincing yourself that “nobody said it would be easy, anything is worth going through for love” or “they were perfectly supportive and loving except for those few times.”
8. Learn. Learn what you need and want from a partner and relationship, learn to realize what you deserve, learn which behaviors you will never again agree to put up with. Once you are rid (as much as possible) of any feelings of guilt over the end of the relationship (“it was all my fault that they left”), learn what you yourself could have done differently to prevent things from reaching the boiling point (should you have ended the relationship months ago instead of dragging it on for so long?), and what you can do better next time. Try not to beat yourself up or judge yourself… just recognize that you can grow from this, and learn.
9. Forgive. Not just them, but yourself especially. You have to help yourself heal by being soft, not hard on yourself. Remember that everyone makes mistakes. Also, don’t have unrealistic or harsh expectations of yourself (“Why am I not over it by now? Why can’t I be stronger?” Remember that you are strong for struggling with this) — time does heal all, but you can help it along!
10. Regain your faith in and positive view of relationships and love, as well as your trust in people. This is extremely important: your attitude to life and love, the optimism and hope you once had when it came to starting new relationships, was probably significantly compromised by your breakup.
But you have to make sure that’s temporary: you can and will love again, it will be just as strong/good/right and probably even better (as you are now wiser and more experienced), you just have to be open to something new and wonderful coming your way instead of wallowing in pessimism or dwelling on the past.
Best of luck, and do comment if you need more advice!