When my boyfriend of two and a half years and I started to have problems, I thought the world was ending. When we broke up a few weeks later, I didn’t think I would survive the soul-crushing pain, sadness and anger that ensued. I felt (and still feel) betrayed. I feel mutilated, like a piece of me has been ripped away never to be retrieved.
The pain of heartbreak is unbearable. And yet, I’m still here! Miraculously, amazingly, I am still alive. I am getting out of bed in the morning, paying my bills, making new friends, and going to work. A couple weeks ago, this seemed impossible. I felt like curling up in a corner of my parent’s house (where I went to hide for a week and a half) and dying. I did not want to live.
With the help of a great support group of friends and family, a good doctor, a great therapist, and banking on past experience of what has worked before, I recovered from those horrible two weeks of excruciating pain. Here’s some of my tried and true methods for healing a broken heart:
1. Accept Finality
The most difficult step for me, in my particular situation, has been recognizing that it’s over. Though it has been extremely challenging and heartbreaking to accept this fact, it has also been helpful. I am so grateful to have reached this state of clarity. I can now move on and heal knowing that things will and can never go back to how they were.
2. Remind Yourself Why
Although it is very difficult to dwell on how much this person hurt you and how much pain they have caused you over the time you were together, I find it helpful in a sense. Whenever I begin to miss the old times, I have to remind myself why this relationship was unsustainable and why it could never work in the long-run. Then, take that pain and remind yourself that it is there for a reason; it is there so you can be more self-aware of what you need in the future. For instance, I know I will never allow any future partners to do what he did to me again from the lack of flowers, to the lack of attention, to the events that unraveled our relationship.
3. Care for Yourself
You are going through a lot. So make it your mission to love and support yourself like you would a child or a dear friend. Get lots of rest, feed your body, treat yourself to a mani, pedi or a facial, and exercise. This can be extremely difficult. Soon after my break-up, my appetite dwindled, my energy felt unbearably low, yet sleep did not come easily. You have to do it anyway. Find bland foods that you can stomach. I ate a lot of oatmeal, rice and bananas. Read a boring history book to put yourself to sleep, distract your mind, and remember that things could be worse (I started to read The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich, which reminded me that things could be worse and put me to sleep every time). Feeling good physically can go a long way in aiding the healing process. Not only does it make you feel capable and strong, it can make you feel beautiful and deserving of real, true love.
4. Reach Out
The best thing I have done for myself through this process has been reaching out to those around me. Ask for help and support from coworkers, new friends, old friends and family. By reaching out, you are helping others as well as yourself. Everyone goes through this, and everyone has residual pain and empathizes with your suffering. Not only can anyone relate and therefore get past their own blockages, being asked for help makes them feel useful, helpful, and important. While it can be hard to swallow your pride and recognize that you feel weak (and may be very ashamed of your perceived weakness), it can make a world of difference to yourself and others.
Think of it this way: if a friend or acquaintance sought your support in a time of hardship, would you feel inconvenienced and judge that person for being weak? Or would you do everything in your power to help them, in the hopes that your efforts may relieve some of their pain?
5. Remember Who You Are
Who were you before this person came into your life? Who are you now, and who do you want to be? When you get wrapped up in a relationship, it becomes easy to brush these things to the side for the sake of the relationship. I’m not just referring to bigger life goals either. For example, I love going out dancing, but hadn’t gone for years because it wasn’t my boyfriend’s thing. I didn’t read as much as I used to, I stopped looking into graduate schools, and I didn’t even get to spend enough time with my cats. I now have the chance to foster my own life and to focus and invest in my future.
It’s very important to remember that you are a very special person who is separate from the other. You are strong, capable, beautiful, vibrant and ambitious. This pain and suffering is only preparing you for the joy and happiness that is waiting around the corner.
In the words of Andrew W.K., “If life feels bad, remember the world’s a big place with lots of goodness in it. And some of that goodness is meant just for you.”
If anyone has advice and/or other tried and true tips to survive heartbreak, please share them with me!
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