Well it’s time for me to write the post, the one that almost everyone seems to write at some point or another: steps for getting through a breakup.
I am just in the first stages of separating with my live-in partner. We have lived together for about a year, dated for over 1.5. Although I truly believe that it is the best thing for us, my mind and heart are swirling: rejection, sadness, love, anger, yearning for some way to ‘fix’ everything and carry on. In writing this out I hope to bring some clarity – and hope – to other broken hearts out there.
1. Accept the change. Transition IS a part of life, and often we get stuck in patterns that seem comfortable but may actually be unhealthy. If you and your partner aren’t both equally putting the energy into sorting out your problems, or are not being totally honest (with yourselves), if you feel isolated, or the relationship isn’t evolving in a way that is meaningful to you, it is not a healthy relationship. Period. Doesn’t matter whose fault it is or what happened, it’s OK to take some space.
2. Create new ways of thinking. We all know that meditation, journalling, councelling, etc. are healthy ways of getting through the pain. But overall what is needed is a push to retrain our brain into just being OK in this new situation. Whatever therapy works for you to practice reworking your brain a bit, find it and force yourself to do it regularly, instead of curling up into a little ball.
3. Find your flow. Flow states can help us to step away from anxiety and depression. Usually they are not passive activities, but activities where you feel fully engaged. Depression in itself is the opposite of this, and may make us think we want to stay curled up in a ball. Do everything you can possibly do to convince yourself otherwise, then go and do your flow thing.
4. Believe that you are better off this way. Even if you have to fake it, write it in your journal a hundred times, ask others to tell you – it’s the only way you will have faith in your healing and your life.
5. Get through it, not ‘over’ it/the partner! Don’t be afraid to go through the grieving process (in an appropriate way). Let yourself cry, kick a punching bag, eat a bit of ice cream. Don’t begrudge yourself for grieving and being emotional. It is a confusing and disheartening time for everyone, but you will get through it.
6. Choose who to lean on, respect their boundaries, and respect the fact that you might be super sensitive right now. Sometimes we can encounter (perceived) negative judgements from even our closest friends and family. Or sometimes others may not be able to give us their full attention. Ask for a good time and make sure you have their full attention, and make sure that you can give them yours too.
7. Listen. It can be so easy to become engrossed in your own grief that you are self-absorbed, but, remember that other people need you too. Your own compassion can go a long way towards everyone’s healing. In fact you probably know someone who is going through or has gone through something similar, if not much worse. Be there for them.
8. Let love free you. I know that it’s the cheesiest line ever, but if you love them, set them free.
9. When you notice yourself missing a particular thing, do it for yourself! For instance, if your partner cooked for you regularly, do this for yourself (or friends or family) and make it a special occasion. If you miss your partner kissing you goodbye in the morning before work, pretend to kiss yourself goodbye with that same love! It may sound ridiculous, but anything you can do to redirect those old patterns of ‘directing’ love is super important.
10. Don’t engage in unhealthy behaviours to distract yourself. Of course we will want to have a beer with a close friend and decompress, or maybe go dancing with a girlfriend. That is totally normal. But do not let yourself go overboard with this kind of thing. Especially not drugs or sex!!
11. Learn how to enjoy your time alone (again). I was alone for a long time, and when I entered the relationship, there were so many things about the daily companionship that I was grateful for. I expressed this to my partner many times. But I also learned from within the relationship that practicing being alone, no matter what, is always a good thing.
12. Do not rest in the ‘fantasy’. I still have visions and memories of times when it was good, of how I really wanted it to be. And the reason we split up is because it just wasn’t like that. My partner couldn’t offer it, maybe I wasn’t offering it either. Set a realistic vision for your next attempt at a relationship, and work towards that. But give it to yourself FIRST.
Every time I have been in a relationship, I have ended up unsatisfied. I can’t exactly say why, except that I do offer and expect the best. I expect us to cherish each other’s souls, bodies, lives- even the crazy parts. I expect there to be a relatively equal amount of give and take, of space and togetherness, of mutual support and self-sustenance. I expect for us to be able to grow together, have adventures, and generally just be OK when things aren’t that exciting!
I (we) tried for the best, and the experience was great, but it just didn’t last. And I think that I deserve the best. Don’t you?