Breakups are the WORST. I mean they hurt everywhere — from our fingernails to our ankles. And we had ZERO clue that we needed to be protecting ourselves this entire time! Ugh. At least if we had been prepared we wouldn’t have a permanent stomach-ache and feel this uncontrollable need to cry in the shower every five minutes. But instead, and we’re left trying to figure out how in the world we are ever going to feel normal again, let alone sleep through the night. Knowing how to survive a difficult breakup is just not something we even knew we had to be prepared for.
For now, the only way to ease the sting is to try and move forward. I know that feels impossible, especially if you’ve been cheated on, but the good news is, I’ve got a few tips that can help. I’ve coached many a girl through many a breakup (I even have a breakup to-do list. In fact, I have two.), and although each situation is different, there are a few crucial points that can help you deal with this nauseating process. THIS is how to survive a difficult breakup:
A lot. Because if you don’t do it now — you’ll just do it later. And by then, it’ll seem a little odd that you’re not over it. So go ahead girl — let it out now. Cry in your room, cry in your car, cry to a friend, cry to a therapist, cry to your mom. Cry until your tear ducts have to work overtime just to supply enough tears to keep you going. Get it ALL out. You have to seriously shed all of this pent up sadness out of your body — or else it will hang around you for weeks to come.
There is absolutely no shame in crying — remember that you weren’t prepared for this kind of heartache. You left your heart completely exposed to rejection, and it hurts. Like hell. So honor the gnarly feeling that it is, get back in that shower, and cry, cry, cry.
2. Take some space.
As hard as it may be, it’s what you need to do. Do not answer that text from him that starts with “Just wanting to check in…” No coffee dates to scream at each other over the loose ends. And under no circumstances will you engage in the whole “exchanging of the things” to tug on your already shredded heartstrings. If he really needs his dang high school football jersey back then just drop it off at his front door. It’s not like anybody is going to steal it — it’s gross.
So why am I being so intense about this? Well first, keeping in contact with your ex after a gut-wrenching breakup is delaying your recovery. It erases any progress you’ve made on your own — because one quick conversation with them reminds you how happy you were pre-split. And all of a sudden, we’re back to the uncontrollable crying. Damn it.
Talking also encourages that glimmering shred of hope that you two are getting back together. And that hope is essentially a bungee cord attached to your heart — the second you think you’re free of the agony, it snaps you right back in again.
For right now, it’s best to do your healing on your own. You are resilient, and you do not need your ex to push you through this. Sure, after you’ve recovered and healed, being friends with an ex can actually workout sometimes. But until then, take the space to get comfortable in your new life without them.
3. Spend time alone.
You can rebound later. For right now, let’s focus on dating yourself.
Don’t worry, you’re not feeling sorry for yourself if you stay in on a Friday night and binge watch Parks and Rec. (Might I suggest the “Galentines Day” episode?). Instead, you’re simply getting comfortable with being alone. You really haven’t had that chance in quite some time. It’s fun to reconnect with yourself! You can be the most selfish brat in the world and no one is there to pitch a fit! You can watch your quirky indie comedies, eat frozen yogurt by the gallon, and experiment with creepy skin masks at your leisure. It’s quite lovely.
But more than just getting to have it your way — you are overcoming the pervasive fear of being alone. Because if you are scared of being alone, how will you ever know if your next relationship is fueled by love or fear?
Let’s make sure we know the answer to that one.
4. Trust fall.
Metaphorically, of course.
It’s time to call your friends and family to ask for some super-sized support. Trust me, you do not want to go through a breakup all by yourself. I mean you’re already not talking to your ex and spending way more time alone (riiiiight?) — so let’s make sure we get some balance up in this joint. Talk, call, text, email, Snapchat, DM, G-chat, and get some FaceTime in there, too. Just make sure you are communicating to your group on a regular basis. Let them know that you’re hurting, and that you need some back up for the next few weeks (or months — no judgment).
More than being there to give you advice, your support system can be there to distract you and infuse some fun back into your life. So take advantage, and go have fun.
5. Write it out.
You’ve got a lot going on in your head right now. Questions and cuss words and hypothetical scenarios that will probably never happen keep playing over and over again. It’s overwhelming. And it’s time to address it. So let’s write it out.
Actually, better yet, write it out to the ex.
Yes — write a letter to your ex. Write out how you feel, what you’re thinking, how you’ve been, and any questions you may be trying to figure out. Don’t worry, I’m not going to make you send it (that would violate rule #2). This letter is just for you. This is your time to release everything you’ve been carrying around and put it all down in one place. And when you’re done, you can put it away. Burn it for all I care. Just don’t re-read it every night or even think about hitting “send” — it’s in the past now. And hopefully some of those uncomfortable feelings you’ve been carrying around can stay there, too.
6. Talk it out.
OK, you’ve got your crew assembled. Your extra positive breakup squad! They’ll drop whatever they’re doing because they know exactly what you are going through, right?
Good. Now comes the fun part.
It’s time to thoroughly dive into what in the hell happened that made this break up so freaking awful. And you’re going to need a partner in crime to help you work it out.
If you trust one of your besties to hold your hand as you walk through the emotional train wreck that is your heartache, that’s great. Go for it. But if you’re not sure about involving a friend, you might be better off with someone who has experience with this. And sometimes, there’s nothing better than a little life coaching or therapy to give you a massive emotional makeover.
The important piece is that you address the dissolution of the relationship and the aftermath, because that’s how patterns start to form. You know how one of your friends always dates the same kind of people, and ends up in the same situation over and over again? Yeah, you don’t want that. And you definitely don’t want to coast forward for a few months, you trick yourself into thinking you’re fine, and then break down after a subpar romantic drama that wasn’t even a tearjerker.
This is the time to do the work. Talk it out. Get sad. Get angry. Reflect. Then take a break and come back. Too much heavy handedness will burn you out — but you cannot ignore the deep feelings you’re carrying around. So find a balance between reflection and distraction, and keep moving forward.
7. Remain hopeful.
It’s easy to fall into pessimistic tendencies after a breakup.
“I’m never going to meet anyone again.”
“My life was all about him — what now?”
“I can’t trust anyone.”
LISTEN TO ME: Do not let an ex take away your light.
You will meet someone again. You will get your life back. And you will trust again. Why? Because you had all of these qualities before. It’s not like this breakup went in and changed your DNA. You’re still the same you — it’s just your perspective is a bit different. Things will revert back to normal if you just trust the system. Let your body work its way through this break up as long as it needs to. Remember that you get to control the amount of self-awareness you pour into this break up phase. And the more energy you put into pulling yourself out, the easier it will become.
So in the meantime, remember that your self worth isn’t defined by anybody other than yourself. If you believe that you will come out of this stronger than before, you will. Stay positive, girl.
OK, to all of my sweet girls going through their first breakup…
You will get through this. I know it’s an awful time — and if it’s any consolation — I was there once, too. But you will bounce back and have an even deeper appreciation for your future relationships than you could ever imagine. If you need some extra help getting through, that is exactly what we are here for.
Image: Ryan McGuire