There’s no way around it, ending a romantic relationship in heartbreak hurts and the pain hits you hard. It can sometimes feel like getting the wind knocked out of you. One second everything is okay and then the next second you're flat on your back, staring at the sky, trying to remember how you were able to breathe normally before.
You’re in pain and you can’t think straight, you just want to get over the feeling as fast as possible. You might grab whatever or whoever you can to bring you short-term relief, then find yourself right back where you started.
Overcoming heartbreak may sometimes seem impossible, but you can do it with the right perspectives and some new healthy habits.
If you want to make a cake, you have to follow every step of the recipe in order or you’ll end up with an unsuccessful end result. Moving on from heartbreak is similar. You have to go through each step if you want to find success. Grief isn't always linear, some days may be harder than the one before it, but the journey of moving on is a process and takes time. Focusing on the end result when you’re in the early stages of that process will be overwhelming. Instead, focus on where you currently are and making it to that next step. One day at a time.
All the love and energy that you were putting into your ex and the relationship can now be refocused and used on yourself. Be gentle with yourself, listen to your body and heart and what they need. Sometimes those needs might look like a hot bath and a tall glass of Merlot and sometimes they might look like dragging yourself outside and going for a run until you sweat out the bad memories. Don’t let your negative feelings dissuade you from taking care of yourself.
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Rejection stings. It burns. Having a painful reaction to it is natural. Pain needs to be acknowledged and treated if it's ever going to heal. If your good friend is heartbroken and telling you they felt sad or lonely, the last thing you'd be thinking or telling them was that they were pathetic, worthless, or undeserving of love. The concept of that alone even seems ridiculous and silly. You would support them and pour kindness into their cracks, not say something untrue to make them hurt more. So why is it that it feels easy and even normal to tell that horrible stuff to ourselves? Be a good friend to yourself instead, you'll need it.
Somewhere along the the line, a stigma was formed about certain emotions. There is a damaging misconception that emotions like sorrow and anger aren’t as acceptable as emotions like happiness or excitement. They are normal feelings and your body’s natural reaction to heartbreak. It is important that you let yourself experience these feelings fully and wholly, without self-judgement. A break up is a huge loss and it is important to give yourself permission to grieve that loss. Holding those emotions in will force you to hold onto them, let them out and let them move through you. So cry on the floor, rip the letter to pieces, throw the picture frame. If you don’t let yourself fall apart, you won’t be able to piece yourself back together.
When you’re dealing with the aftermath of a break-up, it’s easy to fixate on the negatives and think of it as a failure or a mistake. Remember that you have complete power over the way you think about the relationship. Instead of sitting around harping over what went wrong, reflect on what you learned from the relationship. What have you discovered about yourself? About your needs? What knowledge are you now equipped with and how will that serve you in the relationships that are yet to come? Every relationship is a learning experience, treat it as such.
You are not defined by your relationship or lack thereof. You were a fully whole, strong and beautiful person before the relationship, and you are a fully whole, strong and beautiful person after it. Remind yourself of the positives in your life. Sit down. Write a list of everything you have going for you. Remind yourself why the relationship ended. Sit down. Write a list of the bad memories. Of the treatment you didn't deserve. Hang the lists up on your mirror. Read them every time you forget. Some days you might not need to read those lists, and some days you might need to read them 10 times. Both are okay.
Focus on finding healthy distractions that you can turn to when the memories of the past start bubbling to the surface and cloud your vision. This can be your opportunity to reconnect with passions you may not have made the time for during the relationship, or the chance to explore a new interest. Join a cooking class, go work out, go sing bad karaoke with your friends. For the really overwhelming moments when the wound feels so big that leaving the house seems daunting, reach for your journal. Bleed out onto the paper through your ink. Set a timer and write for 15 minutes, and don’t take your pen off the paper until it goes off. Writing can be a productive and cathartic way to allow your thoughts to move out of your head, and reading them back can offer clarity or a new perspective.
You do not have to go through this alone. Reach out to friends and family members. Pick up the phone. There is power in asking for help when you need it. It can feel isolating to go through something like this and sometimes you may think no one understands your personal relationship and loss but love and heartbreak are universal languages.