I wasn’t expecting to start this column on a bit of a somber note but I guess it is probably best to get this out of the way.
In my experience breaking up is a topic people seem to enjoy discussing, even though it’s one of the most horrible situations you can find yourself in, emotionally speaking. That’s most likely because expressing yourself and getting things off your chest can improve the way you feel, even if it’s only for the time being. And when your chest feels like it’s suddenly empty, yet so full of negative and painful stuff you can’t even figure out, it’s nice to feel better. Even momentarily.
Of course the majority of us know by now that all this passes, but when you’re in the full throes of heartbreak it can feel like it’s never ending even if it’s not the first time you’ve experienced it. On top of all of this, there are different levels of heartbreak. You can never fully understand someone else’s experience even if you’ve been through something similar. For those who know someone going through heartbreak, it can be difficult to find the “right” things to say and even to be there for someone who can’t see the light at the end of the tunnel just yet.
So, without further ado, I present to you my list of ten ways to help yourself through this difficult time:
*Disclaimer: these are not-necessarily-proven, but definitely worth attempting*
Cry. A lot, if you have to. Allow yourself to feel every feeling as it comes, whenever it comes, no matter how intense. Since most of us have lives that don’t necessarily allow us to stay in bed all day I will note that it can obviously feel a bit embarrassing to cry in public, but I’ve found that the longer I let a feeling fester inside of me the worse it usually is when I finally allow the proverbial floodgates to open. I’m not really shy about crying in general so I can tell you from experience that people either tend to leave you completely alone or at most offer a sympathetic glance or an “Are you ok?”, neither of which can really hurt you. Also, crying in front of your friends or family can be a little awkward depending on the nature of your relationships but people who love you will surely step up in your time of need. So for the sake of your longterm sanity, let go of some of that pride.
Let the anger out… just not on social media
Being sad is one thing but if you’re harboring any anger you have to find a way to let that out too. In this case, I would advise against taking it out on other people for what I think (and hope) are obvious reasons. For me, writing provides a great release for a multitude of feelings but especially for feelings of hurt. To be clear, I’m talking about good old fashioned journaling. No passive aggressive Tweets or Vaguebooking, please. Because let’s face it, you are better than that and it’s obviously better to write “I hope you die!!!!” on a piece of paper you can then make disappear than to put that out into the internet universe.
Replace that sadness with some joy
When you’re done with all of that crying and raging, try to tap back into the things that bring you joy. Or find new things that can make your life a little bit happier. Even if it’s just watching stand up comedy on Netflix while devouring a tub of Ben & Jerry’s, if it means you’re distracted and smiling for a solid hour and a half I’d say it’s worth it. Pulling yourself out of a rut takes baby steps and I think this is an important and easy one.
Crank the tunes
Listen to music. You probably already do this every day if you are a) alive and b) still sane which means I probably don’t have to explain to you why this works. It just does. Especially if you put on something that’s relevant to what you’re currently feeling. I have a friend who has a theory that if she’s sad and she listens to sad music, it will just worsen her feelings of hopelessness. If you feel this way, that’s fine. Cry to Pitbull. Have a mosh pit in your room to Icona Pop. I personally feel better faster if I listen to an album that relates to how I’m feeling at the time. So at the moment I have Sam Smith’s In The Lonely Hour and Lykke Li’s I Never Learn on heavy rotation, but I also throw in some metal when I need to scream. Whatever floats your boat across that river to Restored Sanity.
Spend time with someone you should love… you
Take yourself out on a date. I’m really serious about this one. I get weird looks every time I make this suggestion, but hear me out; you gotta love yourself, you gotta borderline fall in love with yourself. Whether that’s all over again because your self-esteem has just suffered a huge blow or whether it’s for the first time in your life, just do it. You will never find a better soulmate or someone who has your back forever quite like yourself. Take care of yourself. As I say, BYOB : Be Your Own Boyfriend (or BYOG: Be your own girlfriend).
Once you’ve regained some of your strength it’s time to take care of some of the more difficult things. Get rid of things that remind you of the person. Get rid of the person entirely if you have to. Nobody likes doing this. Hanging on to a painful memory isn’t going to help you out in the long run, though. If your break-up was somewhat, or somehow, amicable then great! Keep the articles of clothing, the books, the records, whatever. But if you’d rather be set on fire than even picture yourself together in a room with your ex ever again, what good is it going to do you to be in a room full of the ex’s stuff? This is why I have similar feelings when it comes to blocking/deleting emotional wrongdoers out of my virtual life, too. It might sound petty to some but I don’t think it’s possible to move on in a healthy way if you still have a very easy way to keep tabs on someone you’re no doubt still harboring feelings for. One meldown-inducing Facebook stalking session can take up hours of your time that could be used on something much more valuable… Hell, even walking around your block 14 times in a row would be better. So just abracadabra that loser out of your life.
Repeat any and all steps as needed. Sometimes it’s a cycle. Getting past a certain stage of grief only to catch yourself tumbling right back into it is by no means a sign of failure or weakness, by the way. It takes great emotional courage to get back on track and I truly believe we all have it in us.
Be fabulous, darling
Be your fabulous self again. Go out, dance, drink (don’t go crazy, self-medicating doesn’t usually work out the way we hope it will), sing your lungs out at a karaoke bar. Buy yourself something nice. Act silly. Hang out with children and animals, it’s like free therapy. Do anything that will help you return to a peaceful, almost childlike, state of being.
Take your time to get back on the horse
A lot of people will tell you to put yourself back out there right away, with the assumption that forcing yourself to physically move on will make everything better. I won’t knock that theory. If it works for you there is no reason to sit around and think about your ex for one second longer. But if this not the way you operate, don’t feel bad. It takes longer for some people to fully come back around to the idea of dating and that doesn’t mean there’s anything wrong with you. Don’t allow anybody to make you feel like you aren’t moving on fast enough because there really isn’t a set timeline for how these things work. With so many conflicting pieces of advice floating around, from “date immediately” to “the right person comes along when you stop looking,” it’s easy to become confused and overwhelmed. Just feel it out. Do whatever’s best for you and your heart.
Last but not least, keep believing in love. One person does not define how lovable or desirable you are. Never let any of your negative dating experiences turn you into an emotionally jaded mess. Learn and, more importantly, grow from this. “Don’t get bitter, get better.” I sincerely hope this helps.
Til next time,