It has always fascinated me how human beings cope with the end of a wild wind romance (or just an overall shitty relationship). No matter who you are, you’ve most likely engaged in some pretty questionable antics post breakup. I get it. You’re grieving the loss of someone you have been planning a future with for x amount of time and you aren’t quite sure what your next move should be. Do you impulsively cut off all your hair? Go on a drunken bender? Have a one night stand, or 5? I’ve heard that the best way to get over someone is to get under someone else…at least that’s what they tell me.
As far as I’m concerned, there are a few different ways we choose to grieve when beginning an unfamiliar, new chapter of our lives.
Everyone deals with heartbreak a little differently depending on the severity of the severed connection. If you are fortunate enough to part ways amicably, congrats! There is nothing worse than grieving the loss of a loved one while simultaneously boiling with hatred and resentment because one of you just wasn’t ready to let go. Good news! We’ve all been there. And we will continue to experience passionate romance and soul quenching loss until the day we die, that’s just the reality of this crazy thing we call life.
What are some of the coping mechanisms we use post break up that support us in our recovery and aid in our journey towards self discovery? And how can they hinder us if we aren’t careful?
This one is a personal fave of mine. Breakup or not, there is nothing I loathe more than sitting around moping and feeling sad because something didn’t pan out the way I had expected. Does it suck? Yes. Is it disappointing? Absolutely. Should it consume your every waking thought and drain you of your energy and soul? No. No it shouldn’t. Just because something WAS good, just because it made you happy once upon a time, does not mean that you are incapable of moving on without it. When your whole world revolves around your partner, losing them can feel debilitating. This is where healthy distractions come into play.
Now I’m not suggesting you disregard your feelings, slide them under the rug, and put a smile on your face day 1 (that would be unrealistic and exceptionally insensitive of me). However after a certain period of time, these emotions should start to decrease as you become more comfortable with your circumstances and begin adapting to your new found solo environment. For most of us, we can’t spend a month in bed with a severe case of heartbreak. Moving forward is the only choice we have!
So what do we do? We call up our friends, spend hours on the phone discussing the ins and outs of our relationship struggles, we go for brunch, grab coffee, schedule a gym date or a night on the town. The opportunities are endless! Anything to get us out of our head and distract from our inner critic whispering negative nonsense along the lines of “way to blow it again”, “you’re going to be alone forever”, “how have you not figured out by now that YOU are the problem?” Ain’t nobody got time to wallow in our own self pity.
I’ve been around the block enough times to know that my generation is seriously struggling with a little thing called emotional validation. A feeling arises that makes us uncomfortable and we seek the fastest way possible to dismiss it and numb our pain. Sounds familiar I know (I was guilty of this for 25 years). Alcohol, narcotics, stimulants, meaningless sex, pick your poison. There’s a fix for anything these days! The goal is to alter your mental and emotional state of mind to the point of no return. “What was I even upset about in the first place, I feel fabulous!” I would slur to myself while stumbling out of the bar at 2am on a Wednesday…
As I’m sure you’ve already guessed, this method is short lived. Eventually when the booze has worn off, our bender has sucked the life out of us, and we wake up puzzled at the reflection staring back at us in the mirror wondering how the hell we’ve let ourselves get to this point, we’ve hit rock bottom. By choosing to numb our feelings we are quite obviously disrespecting our bodies natural ability to process our emotions. Without truly allowing ourselves to FEEL and validating our experiences, we are essentially drowning our problems until we gain the confidence to recreate them in our next relationship #unresolvedtraumas.
We all have that one friend who is exceptionally talented at remaining unphased by their breakup entirely. Their behaviour is alarmingly convincing and it actually seems as though they are genuinely thriving despite everyone’s concerns thank you very much! I remain unconvinced and can spot heartbreak from a mile away (you’re not fooling anyone my love).
Here’s the thing, dismissing your pain and ignoring your natural human emotions only works temporarily. “It’s fine. I’m fine. We’re FINE”, only works in the interim between initial breakup shock and a full blown mental breakdown. It isn’t sustainable, it isn’t healthy, and it’s not going to protect you from the loss you’re grieving, no matter how many selfies you post or cocktails you slam at happy hour.
Lying to ourselves is a sure fire way to prolong the grieving process. The longer we hold on to the illusion that everything is fine and dandy and we can’t possibly be hurt or torn down because we are fearless and indestructible, the longer we carry around our post-breakup burden. Vulnerability is where it’s at my friend! We are not perfect, we all experience heartbreak, and we all have a choice to work through our pain and grow from the ungodly experience that is a millennial breakup!
Allowing what’s hurt us to help us heal, takes an insane amount of courage and perseverance! Naturally when we experience loss, change, or heartbreak we are so busy trying to make sense of it all that we tend to miss the underlying silver lining (there is ALWAYS a silver lining. Always). Healing forces us to face our problems head on and work through the uncomfortable emotions that are holding us hostage. Healing promotes growth and abundance, and for those of you that don’t know, I’m all about personal growth and radical transformation. I swear it’s my calling in life.
When we choose healing, we are choosing ourselves. Choosing to let go and allowing love to seep into the cracks of our delicate and messy hearts is beautiful, and undeniably brave. It breaks my heart knowing so many of us are walking around burdened by our past traumas feeling inadequate and damaged. We work SO hard to hide our scars when in reality, our wounds are tiny pieces of the battles we’ve been strong enough to overcome time and time again.
How you choose to heal is up to you. Whether you run yourself a bath and become engrossed in your favourite book, dedicate your time to a strictly regimented gym routine, take up running, adopt a dog, book a vacation (eat, pray, love style), or simply take time for yourself to grieve the loss you feel deep down in the core of your being, you choose healing. You make yourself and your life a priority because you know that these feelings are temporary and believe in the power of choice.
Falling in love with yourself is vital. We can not possibly love another person until we master the art of self-love and acceptance. Below are 3 ways I practice self love on a daily basis to ensure I’m taking care of my #1.
Look Good, Feel Good
Have you ever spent an extra 5 minutes in the morning curling your hair or curating the perfect outfit (trick question who hasn’t)? Did you stop to notice how it made you feel throughout the course of your day? Ever since I was a hormonal adolescent (pre self-esteem days) I’ve attempted to master the art of seemingly effortless confidence. Until one day it hit me, it is impossible to feel confident 24/7 but there are small steps we can take every day to increase our emotional well being, and sometimes this starts on the outside.
A perfect example of this is when I’m feeling under the weather, I’m sniffly, exhausted, pale skinned, and lifeless. For years I would allow these feelings to consume me and lay around the house feeling sorry for myself (do not recommend to a friend). Then somewhere in my early to mid twenties I decided to switch things up. Whenever I was feeling poorly I would hop in the shower, throw on a face, do my hair, and put on one of my favourite outfits that was both comfortable and flattering. And guess what? I actually felt better by simply making the effort and prioritizing self care!
When we look good we gain control over our emotions and are better equipt to shift our internal energy. Call me vain, superficial, or whatever floats your boat. As long as you feel your best, that’s all that matters.
Listen to Your Body
This might just be one of the most difficult lessons I have ever learned throughout the course of my life. Partially because I was conditioned as a small child to “push through” and “work harder” (inadvertently dismissing signals from my body) in addition to numbing my emotions with any substance I could get my hands on. Our body is constantly trying to tell us what it needs, all we have to do is stop and listen.
Tuning in to our physical and emotional needs can often feel like we are trying to solve a mental rubix cube. Knowing which combination of self-care rituals we need to implement based on our mood, health, and energy levels is no easy task let me tell you! Maybe you feel tired (isn’t that just part of adulting?) your body is sending you signals that it requires rest in order to perform at it’s best. Instead, you order a venti americano and head out to meet up with your friends because you can’t bail on plans…again. When you wind up getting sick you’re shook, “how has my immune system failed me? I don’t understand!”
Practicing self awareness is one of the best ways to show our bodies the love and respect it so evidently deserves. If you need a break, REST, if you’re feeling sluggish, MOVE, and if you’re feeling stressed, RELAX! Your body will thank you in the long run and you will eventually learn to pick up on it’s not so subtle signals.
Trust Your Intuition
Your intuition (aka your gut feeling) is almost never wrong. Whether or not you choose to embrace or dismiss it, you can generally sense when you’re entering the danger zone or something just doesn’t “feel right”. Trust that there is a reason you may be apprehensive about someone, or alternatively, that an unexpected opportunity may be exactly what you need because you can feel it in the very depths of your soul. However your intuition displays itself throughout the course of your life, trust that s*!t! It exists solely to guide you through your decision making.
Many years ago, I decided to leave my partner of 3 years to pursue someone else. Someone I whole-heartedly knew was not good for me from the very moment I laid eyes on them. They had a reputation for sleeping around, partying, and jumping from girl to girl. Hell, I didn’t even like this person as a friend (let alone on an intimate level) and was adamant that they remain outside of my social circle at all costs. Until one day when I fell face first into their toxic web of lies and wound up head over heels in love with them! It must have been a full moon, I’m convinced.
I disregarded my gut feeling and betrayed my intuition in hopes that I could enlighten and inspire them to change their ways. But as I’m sure you could have guessed, this is not how the situation played out. My heart was shattered into a million tiny pieces when I discovered that they had been cheating on me…for 5 years. I was distraught! Looking back, I can now acknowledge that I didn’t deserve to be treated with such disrespect (that was a him thing). However on the flip side, I made a conscious choice to become involved with someone who clearly did not appreciate me or value my worth and ignored my intuition despite my first impression.
Allow your intuition to guide you through your experiences and protect you from harmful situations or toxic individuals. Trust that your inner workings exist to keep you safe. Trust in your gut.
Learning to love yourself takes time. It takes one failed relationship after another until you’re so worn down you have nowhere to go but up. This is the beauty of building such beautiful, intimate connections with others. They inadvertently teach us of our worth and force us outside of our comfort zone, outside of the darkness and sorrow that is heartbreak. Our worth is not based on someone else’s ability to love us. Our worth is based on the love we show ourselves…every single day.