Going through relationship breakups can be a painful process—and readjusting to single life can be just as difficult as dealing with the heartache.
Combine the two and it’s no wonder we can find ourselves going from one relationship straight to another.
Even if we are the ones who have done the leaving, we can still be filled with feelings of loss. There is still the fear of the unknown, the guilt of hurting someone, and the grief for all the good times in the past. Often a breakup means our daily lives change, too—the friends we have, the place we go to and even the house that we live in. It can be the catalyst for big changes in our lives—not all of which we’ll welcome.
However, spending time alone and getting to know ourselves can be a great way of figuring out who we are and what we want, and this helps us make better choices in future relationships.
I left a relationship of seven years. It was a difficult thing to do and left me feeling quite bruised. After this experience I was unable to get back into a relationship for some time, and then came my next challenge: how to learn to be single again. Rather than being afraid of being alone, can we embrace it as a time to look after number one, to learn about ourselves and to ensure that when the right person does come along, we are ready.
I’ve learned that sometimes life has to fall apart so we can rebuild it with the pieces in the right order. I’ve learned a lot about myself and from the experience of going through these tough times. I’ve also learned how to be alone without being lonely. I feel ready for another relationship, but no longer feel like I need another half to make me complete. These reminders are what got me through it.
6 things to remember to survive a breakup:
1. Get to know yourself again.
We can play our music loud, watch whatever we like on TV, stay in if we please, go out if we please—there is no-one else to think about, and it’s a rare opportunity to whatever it is you want. It’s also a good opportunity to spend time figuring this out: what do you really want, who are you? Time alone can be good for getting to know ourselves, which means we’re more likely to make the right choices next time around. Whilst you’re wishing you were part of a cosy couple, remember there’ll be a few cosy couples envious of your freedom. Enjoy this time to be free, it won’t last forever.
2. Self care.
It’s so important to look after ourselves when we go through tough times, especially if we are struggling with rejection and feelings of loss. The same applies when we are the ones who have done the leaving—feelings of guilt and blame can be common. To ensure that we come out the other side with our sanity in tact, it’s key to prioritise self-care. Eating right, exercising and getting plenty of sleep are at the top of the list. Whilst it may be tempting to sit on the sofa in tears eating nothing but ice cream, in reality this is not going to help us recover and will probably make us feel worse.
3. Forgive. Don’t blame.
It’s easier said than done, especially when that period of anger and resentment sets in. It’s particularly challenging if you feel you’ve not been treated right. As the Buddhists say, “Holding on to anger is like holding onto a hot stone, you are the one who gets burned.” Letting go of blame and learning to forgive in time is all about self preservation, rather than letting them off the hook. You are doing it for you, not for them. Holding onto anger and blame stops us moving forward and it allows the person who has hurt you to continue hurting you as long as you hold onto it. This also applies to any blame we are placing on ourselves. I should have done this, or I could have done this better. Letting go of blame is key to helping us move on.
4. It’s okay to cry and it’s okay not to be okay.
The bottom line is that there is no easy way to go through a breakup. There is no switch we can flick and instantly be over it. It is a process we have to work through and there will be good days and bad days. There may be days we just want to sit in our pajamas and cry. Allow yourself a period of grief, but don’t allow yourself to become stuck there. It’s okay to cry and not be okay, it’s part of hurting, and we have to hurt before we can heal.
5. Seek support.
The support of friends can be vital to help us move through the process and begin to mend, but sometimes we need an objective view from a stranger to give a fresh perspective. Talking to a therapist or life coach or even receiving counselling are a few options—especially if we have come out of a particularly difficult relationship. I found it helpful to talk to people who’d been in my situation and come out of the other side, listening to their wisdom and seeing they had moved on was an inspiration and it helps to know that it’s not just us and these feelings are normal.
6. Move on.
This is easier said than done as well, and I don’t say it lightly. It can take months, sometimes years. The reason it comes last in the list is because we have to have done all the other steps first to enable us to move on. We can’t move on to the next chapter of our life if we keep re reading the last one.
It will be okay, there will be a new normal and further down the track you’ll look back at this as just another experience, a distant chapter of your life.
Author: Jess Stuart
Editor: Emily Bartran
Photo: Helga Weber/Flickr