How to Keep your Sanity After a Breakup
Having only been through one breakup in my life, I may not exactly be the Dating Goddess or Miss Breakup Expert. However, I feel like I was able to get through that breakup with minimal damage to my psyche, so I figured I'd share my experience.
It's been a little over two years since my ex and I broke up. At the time, I thought I'd never recover; I cried for a week straight. My thoughts were filled with memories of the good times: "Remember when we went to that one place?" "Remember when he said that one thing that I will never ever forget?" and worries for the future: "I am going to be so emotionally damaged after this!"
But after that week, I was able to look back on the relationship and see the not-so-good things. I realized that for the majority of the relationship, he didn't treat me all that well. I kept on giving and giving of myself, and I rarely got anything in return. I realized that I actually felt terrible about myself most of the time I was with him. After that week, I never shed another tear over him.
That transformation, of course, was not instant. It took me time and quite a bit of effort to get to that place. I'm sure I don't need to explain that every breakup is different and happens on its own timeline; obviously, your reaction is going to be different depending on whether you were with the person for 6 months or 6 years. But regardless of the timeline, there are healthy and unhealthy ways to go about moving on. Some things that helped me through my breakup were:
Spending time with my friends and family. They were there for me and let me vent. They listened to me say the same things over and over again: "I don't understand!" "How could he be so cold?" "What an emotionally stunted jerk!" But they were also wise (and kind) enough to change the subject once in a while to help get my mind off of the breakup. Initially, when they'd change the subject, I was a little miffed - why aren't they letting me ramble on endlessly about my tragic life?! But after a little while, I realized that I wanted to hear about other things. It had a normalizing effect that helped me get over things faster.
Taking time to grieve. I allowed myself some time to be sad. It's perfectly natural; a breakup is like a little death. No one would expect you to instantly bounce back from the death of a loved one - it's the same for a breakup. It's important to take some time to deal with the sadness at the time, or else it will fester and most likely creep up on you later. But at the same time...
Not letting myself wallow for too long. A day or two after the breakup, I got called into work to take over someone's shift. I really didn't want to go. I mean, I really didn't want to go - and this was when I worked in a chocolate shop, so you know it was serious. I wanted to lay on my bed and stare at the ceiling and maybe shuffle to the kitchen so I could eat ice cream between sobs. But I went to work anyway - and it was the best thing for me. I explained to my boss what had happened, she gave me a big hug and some encouraging words, and I got to work...and gradually, it took my mind off things.
Cultivating new interests. After we broke up, I took the opportunity to use my extra time to cultivate new interests that he had never shown any support for, and that I hadn't had time to develop. I discovered my own personal style, I began reading blogs voraciously, and I dedicated myself to my own writing. These activities gave me a new lease on life, and as a result, I really blossomed into myself.
Today, I can truly say that I've never been happier - I'm dedicating myself to some fun interests, I've found a wonderful guy who actually listens to me and respects me, and, quite simply, I just feel more myself.
Breaking up with my ex ended up being the best thing for me. It was terrible and painful at the time, but I'm going to quote my dear friend Sara on this one: "Breaking up is like unclogging the toilet. It's nasty and it's awful, but sometimes you've just gotta do it."
Amen to that.
Have you ever been through a painful breakup? What helped you through it?