My recent situation has been that of crippling pain (dramatic, but true)—the kind of pain that inhibits your ability to breathe, eat, or speak without your face becoming a replica of Niagara Falls, the kind where your heart physically hurts.
My story is recent, one that I awoke to the morning after Christmas, which involved me turning around to my love and hearing the soul-crushing words of “I don’t think I love you anymore” being launched at me, followed by a list of reasons why I’m not suited for the role of being a future partner.
I can confidently say this has been one of my most painful moments in time, not only due to facing a loss of someone I cared for deeply, but what signified overall—a reflection of myself and self-perception of being unworthy and not good enough, and a reminder of loss throughout life and generally the feeling of being a failure.
Feeling like I had failed to pull myself and the relationship through into a better headspace, all the while knowing there was so much potential, yet equally so much damage in the foundations that remained neglected.
I’m writing this because it’s something we all have in common at one point or another: heartbreak. We’ll all lose someone in one way or another, prompted or otherwise, and there will always be someone who left us a little (or a lot) more scathed.
In my scenario, I guess I knew that the end was nearing. I felt the rejection for a while but refused to face it whilst building a hopeful fantasy. A relationship that couldn’t thrive in a place where there was a lack of vulnerability and communication in one corner and insecure reactional behaviour in the other.
I guess part of this story interacts with attachment and what happens when we get into a space with the avoidant and anxious.
Here’s what I have learnt:
1. Take accountability. I’ve never been more aware of my downfalls than I am now, the wrongdoing on my part, and the many ways my behaviour hasn’t always been the most acceptable. There are many aspects of myself that I’ve become aware of and areas that I want to improve upon—something that may have gone amiss for a long time if it hadn’t been for this scenario.
I feel it’s so important to take a look at yourself and take responsibility—to be vulnerable without blaming the other. This is the only way to develop oneself and grow.
2. Don’t beg. It’s incredibly hard not to fight for someone you care for, but you have to remember they left for a reason, and whatever that reason may have been, it has to do with their wants and needs and not with you.
I say this because I learnt the hard way, and unfortunately, in this case, you need to make sure you’re putting your energy into healing yourself rather than trying to retrieve what you once had. Remember, if someone wants to be with you, they will make it clear. Let them be, whilst letting yourself heal.
3. It really takes two. I spent three weeks blaming myself every single day, ruminating and recalling every word I said, every f*ckup I made, and all the things that I could have done differently. Basically, I blamed myself entirely for every aspect of the relationship failing. It’s only with time, clarity, and hindsight that I have become aware that it truly was an issue on both sides of the coin and relatively equal ones at that.
It’s important to remember that you did the best you could in that given space of time. All you can do is learn from this, grow, and move on into a better space. It takes two people to participate in a relationship, it takes two people to nourish a loving connection, and it takes two people to knock it all down again. A relationship is teamwork—whether it’s good or bad.
4. Take space. This goes hand in hand with not begging or chasing. As much as you want to fix things, or maybe you want to convince them otherwise—that they have made the wrong decision to things that can be better—don’t. Don’t waste your precious energy and time—this is the time you need for yourself, this is the time for healing and reconnecting with yourself
It won’t be easy, and for a while, initially, the pain will likely be unbearable, but trust the process and trust time to get to know yourself again. Things really will get better; you will feel better.
5. Grieve. Take time to feel the pain and work through the emotions—this is a hard process that will really take you through most of the grief stages. The scariest part can be letting yourself feel the emotions. You may instinctively want to suppress and run away both physically and mentally to avoid the pain—don’t.
Pain and hurt will inevitably boomerang back to you in one way or another if they’re not dealt with initially. These emotions may manifest and amplify during future troubles and potentially damage your future relationships. Remember, your partner would have already grieved the loss whilst you were still together as they made the decision to let you go, so don’t spend your time worrying about what they’re doing or their concerns. This time is to concentrate on healing yourself.
6. Trust in family and friends. This one is hugely important—during a time when you may feel incredibly alone and vulnerable, you will likely lean on your closest support system. The people closest to you will love and support you through your hardest times—they are here for you right now, as you will be there for them in the future.
I cannot put into words how incredibly grateful and lucky I feel to have my amazing friends and family—they have been my backbone for the last month and have supported me through the lowest of times. Thank you.
7. Get back to yourself. It wasn’t until after two weeks of solid crying that I realised I had entirely lost myself over the last few months of my relationship, and I’m not blaming the relationship—this was due to an accumulation of things including 2020 as a whole. I lost myself, I lost my passion, and I lost my spark. I completely forgot what I loved doing and plateaued into a place of no longer being excited about life.
This breakup has given me the space to start remembering who I am and what I stand for: exploring, volunteering, and spending time with animals, spending time and going on adventures with friends, getting out beyond the gym, saying “yes” to opportunities I may have dismissed from a lack of confidence, and above all, creating this project right here in the hopes that it may help someone else going through a rocky time.
8. Forgive. Forgive your partner and forgive yourself. I understand that each breakup is as unique as a fingerprint, and there will be a variety of reasons for the end, from not-so-bad to atrocious. It takes some real courage to forgive, not just your partner, but also yourself for whatever guilt and shame you may be carrying.
This will be a process but a road you must take in order to heal fully because once you’re able to forgive, you’ll be well on your way to being able to let go.
9. Let go. I can’t say that I have reached this stage yet, but I’m definitely getting closer. Letting go is of utmost importance—it’s a step that will not only change you for the better but also your future relationships. We tend to carry so much heavy baggage with us, especially from past relationships, which we then bring into our new relationships, tainting them with the same toxicity, because as humans, we’re fantastic at projecting our fears and past scars onto others, especially new partners.
Learn to let go and heal; it’s the only way you can gain some real clarity and enjoy this moment in time and your future for the beautiful opportunity that it is.
10. You are worth so much more than you think. This is a recent realisation. You, sweet darling, are worth so much. You are deserving of love and happiness of the highest kind because in a loving relationship, you will be accepted just as you are—flaws and all—and so will you accept the other. We have this misconception that we need to prove ourselves in relationships, that if we adjust ourselves a little here and there then we will be accepted and loved.
If you feel you’re losing your worth in a relationship, you’re likely in the wrong one. The right person will be by your side and offer a helping hand when waters get rough; you don’t need to fight to be loved or seen. You’re imperfectly perfect, and you are worthy and deserving—don’t you ever doubt that.
11. Learn to love yourself first. I can’t tell you how many times I was told this throughout my life and for whatever reason chose to consecutively ignore this valuable piece of advice. Love yourself first, learn to love yourself as much as you would your partner, and accept yourself just as you are. You are worthy of love.
The thing is, we tend to extrinsically seek this love and validation, which, unfortunately, always ends in turmoil. We must learn to love ourselves first, accept ourselves, and trust ourselves; it is only by doing so that we’ll be comfortable and fully accepting of another.
You must learn to put yourself first—you are worthy of your own love. For instance, they always tell you on an airplane that if the masks should fall, you must help yourself before helping others; this is the same in life. You can only fully progress and be truly content in life and interpersonal relationships only once you learn to love yourself first.
“Our vision about the future is one of our most powerful attributes. You cannot think positively and negatively at the same time. Courageous participation attracts positive things.” ~ Barry Michels
I’m a true believer in what happens, happens for a reason. In my case from a personal point of view, it was a reason to finally get myself together from an emotional and a life standpoint. Life will always work out one way or another, even more so once we learn to let go and relinquish control from every aspect of our life.
I believe that what is meant for you will be for you. Maybe one day you and your ex will reconcile after some time and individual growth, or maybe this will be a path to developing yourself, your life, and an opportunity of finding another love.
Trust this journey and take this opportunity to participate in life and your own development. You may be surprised at the amazing journey that lies ahead of you.