I thought I had.
I thought I was doing awesome—reclaiming my life, smiling every day, believing I was open to new things and new people, having dreams that didn’t include him, only thinking about him with fondness and not with bitterness.
This was a model break up. We knew our time had expired and just wanted different things. All good…right?
Until the day I saw photos of him and his new girlfriend on social media.
That kicked me in the face, knocked me to my knees, made me nauseous for a week and I cried a river of tears.
Why did this happen? I was doing all I was supposed to! Why did this hit me like a ton of bricks??
1. I felt replaced. I was no longer the most important girl in his life. Even though I knew I didn’t want to be with him, I wasn’t ready to give up that title in his life. I also didn’t want to give up that title within his family. I loved them still and now had to think about them making room for some other girl in their family, hearts and memories. Would they love her more than me?
2. I felt I failed. How could I not make the relationship work? If he had a new girlfriend that means he is relationship worthy and since I don’t have a new boyfriend, I thought I was not relationship worthy and unlovable. I had made the assumption that he was going to marry this girl who could make him happy and, because I couldn’t make him happy, I would be single forever.
3. I felt betrayed. We have mutual friends and no one told me about his new girlfriend and I had to find out on social media. I understand my friends did not want to get involved due to loyalty to both of us, I understand they did not want to hurt me, but I wish they told me so I could have mentally prepared for it before visually seeing all smiling faces over drinks during a family Christmas holiday. Face. Kicked.
4. I felt stuck. The particulars of my life remained the same—same job, same house, same activities, same friends. He had met someone new and in my mind was having all new experiences whilst mine were exactly the same. I compared myself to the life I believed he was having based on a picture online. This one really bothered me because I felt like he was winning and like others were looking at me as “poor her, one day someone will love her“.
5. I felt pissed off with myself. Why did I let this affect me so much? I fancy myself to be a logical and intelligent person; how did I allow my emotional brain to run away with my logical brain? It had been 10 months since the break up that I wanted, why am I crying another tear over this guy? I knew all of the feelings I was having were illogical and I knew I was making irrational assumptions on his and my life but I still thought these thoughts and felt these feelings. So frustrating.
How I dealt with it:
1. Feel. I had to let myself feel all my emotions. And I had to give myself permission to do this. It is so easy to stuff down an emotion, avoid an emotion, or turn an emotion into something else—such as anger, bravado, self righteousness, or by playing the victim. But I knew doing that would prolong this process so I let myself feel while telling myself that these feelings are just right now and will not be my forever.
2. Love. I had to be around and trust those that loved me. I had to tell my friends and family what was going on. I had to listen to their advice and empathy. I had to believe others understood what I was going through and listen to them when they said “you will get through this”, “you have moved on”, “better things are coming for you”. I needed love and to love myself through this. I had to repeat those things my loved ones were saying to me to myself and believe them. And the moments when I didn’t believe it—I faked it until I made it.
3. Purge. I didn’t realize it but I had not purged my ex from my life. I had so many loose strings attached to him that kept me in a place of attachment to him. So, I went through my house, room by room, and cleared out all memories. I went through my phone and cleared out all photos, messages, and links to him (this was huge, I cleared up 2GB worth of data that I did not know I was carrying), I un-friended those who I knew I would not have a future relationship with and I un-followed all those connected to him that I plan to still have a relationship with but know I need a little distance from for now. I could not believe the relief I felt once I did this. I had so many attachments to so many items in my house that whenever I saw them it negatively affected me—even though I didn’t realize it at the time. The main one that sticks out is a printer. A stupid printer! But it represented the future plans we had for our life together. So, just for dramatics I slammed that printer into the garbage. Haha. Felt good.
4. Time. So cliché but its true. Time does heal wounds. But with time comes patience in the length required, compassion for yourself and your feelings, understanding heartbreak is a process and hope that all will work out in the end.
5. Movement. It was time to put all those dreams I had for myself into action, so I started working towards the image of this future me. I know what I want this person to look like: this causes me to put more work into my appearance and into my health. I know what I want this person to feel like: this causes me to check in with myself and do things that make me confident and happy. I know what I want this person to contribute to the world: this causes me to take steps towards my career goals and made me write my first blog!
Despite the fact that the figurative kick in the face hurt like hell, it was what I needed to start walking my talk and give me the momentum required to move forward with my life.
Even though I am still not in a relationship and he is, I believe I am exactly where I need to be.
Author: Shannon Dee
Editor: Sarah Kolkka
Images: Author’s own & Satish Krishnamurthy/Flickr.