To say a breakup is tough is an understatement, it doesn’t matter if you’ve been with the person twenty years or twenty days or even if you were the one doing the breaking up, the pain still makes your heart hurt. It’s not just mourning for the person you’ve lost either but a whole future and dreams you had planned out in your head.
Although all break ups are different, the steps to moving on with your life will be pretty similar and are as follows. . .
Step 1 – Acceptance (or the not texting him/her constantly phase)
Its hard to believe that this person who just two days ago was talking about how you’re going to have gorgeous little babies together one day has now upped and gone and said they don’t want to be with you anymore. Denial is an absolute arse hole, it keeps you stuck with a false sense of hope. Leads you to believe it’s just a phase, they’re just scared, they’ll change their mind and see what they’re missing. Do you really need to convince someone they love you? (You don’t you’re wonderful but we’ll get onto that later) Knowing how much you love them could you have gone? Could you break their hearts? When someone loves you, well they love you, just as much as you love them. I know life’s not always as black and white as that, but you really can’t mess with love, it’s a powerful force and it’s either there or not. Say your situation is one of the rare situations where that person HAS got scared and they do eventually realise they want you back, well they’ll come back then wont they, regardless of wether you are begging them too or not. This way you also get to keep your self respect too.
Step 2 – Sadness (or getting the pain out and NOT self blaming)
This step is very VERY important in your quest to moving on, firstly you need to let the pain out. Now this means crying a lot, full on, curled up in a ball not showered for two days watching Bridget Jones sobbing into a tub of Hagen Daas (or any other good brand of Ice-cream) release of emotions.
Letting it all out (situation made worse by hideous old ladies jumper)
This bit hurts both physically and mentally, you’ll need some loving friends/family on standby to bring you soup and hold you while you rub snot into their best T-Shirt. Next comes the NOT self blaming part. If a dear friend had recently been left heartbroken would you say the following? – ‘Well what did you do?’ “It’s because you’re too fat’ ‘Well course he dumped YOU you’re so needy’ ‘Maybe if you’d been a bit less boring he would have stayed’ Would you say those things? Of course you wouldn’t. Yet when we get heartbroken these are often the thoughts we say to ourselves. We’re so mean to ourselves and that’s just going to slow the healing process down (A LOT) So you have to be nice to yourself with no blaming, the same way you’d be nice to your little sister or best friend. Show yourself some loving kindness at the point where you need it most.
Step 3 – Anger (or the bit where you avoid sending them a drunk abusive text at 3am)
So now you’re not blaming yourself you’re blaming them, they have caused you complete pain and are the reason you haven’t washed your hair in a week. Now some breakups are sad but the other person really didn’t mean to cause you pain. It’s likely at some stage in your life you’ve either broke up with someone or have had someone like you and not returned the feeling. Most of us know how it feels to like someone and then for whatever reason those feelings fade away. Of course on the flip side to that some people are just mean (I could go into how if they’re able to cause pain it must mean they suffer some way themselves but now’s not the time for empathy towards them) You are angry and you want them to suffer, it’s highly likely though that if you surrender to your anger and send the drunk text or start screaming at them down the phone that you are NOT going to get the reaction you wanted and you’ll be left feeling just as terrible as before. This anger has to come out though, while it’s in your system it will make you snappy and tired and worse case scenario you’ll get ill. One way I’ve used both personally and with my clients is a feelings letter, don’t roll your eyes at me it really is effective. You need some time where you wont get disturbed and you get your pen and paper and you bloody go for it. You get it all out, every singe thing thats in your head, all that rage all that pain. Write until you feel exhausted and calmer. What you then do with the letter follows in step four.
Step 4 – Taking control back (the ceremonial getting rid of reminders)
So you have this rage letter and also all sorts of other reminders, photos, texts, emails, cinema stubs. All painful reminders of what you had that has now gone. So now you take the power back, this decision was made without your consent, it was out of your control, you never asked to have your heart ripped out and stomped all over. It’s time now to regain that control to make the decision to move on, to let it go. I think this part should be quite ceremonial an occasion if you will because it is a very important step YOU are making the decision to get your life back on track. So decide first whether this is something you’ll do alone or with some friends for support. First the letter has to go it’s best really if the time between writing it and getting rid is quite short so you may want to plan this bit first so you’re ready. Burning is best, it’s very final and satisfying (although fireman are gorgeous it’s best to do this outside and safely) now don’t send this letter off into the flames with rage (you’re better than that) send it off with thoughts of peace and calm. Next is going to be a personal choice, you may want to burn letters and photos but at some point in the future you will be over this and you may want to get nostalgic. I’d recommend packing all reminders up into a big box, sealing it and asking someone lovely with a loft to store it for you so you want be tempted to keep opening it up. Emails too, they don’t have to be deleted, I have a folder in an old email account entitled ‘Manchilds’ full of juicy stuff from old lovers who scorned me (I’m going to love reading those in the nursing home) All the while whilst you’re doing the packing away and or deleting /moving of stuff, visualise yourself letting go, imagine cutting the imaginary tie between the two of you and picture them fading away in your mind. Imagine a bright shiny beautiful path in front of you that you get to walk down once you’ve left all this stuff behind.
Step 5 – Me party (the bit where you spend a teeny bit of money)
Ok I know money is tight for everyone but you’ve had an emotional battering and you deserve some loveliness. This part can stretch to any budget, if you can afford it go shop, buy some new underwear, a new outfit, a new bit of jewellery. Go get your hair done, get a massage, a facial, your nails done. If moneys a big problem treat yourself to some lovely shampoo or arrange a get together with friends where you put on cheapo face-packs and drink god awful wine.
Shrek look guaranteed to make you feel sexy
Do something that makes you feel good, chances are you’ve spent the last month or so with greasy hair and a soup stained tracksuit on so even some new shower gel is going to feel good. Make yourself feel like a new woman/man, get a bit of strut back.
Step 6 – Me party part 2 (the bit where you work out what to do on ‘couple days’)
Normally when clients come to me and they’re going through a breakup there is a certain day (normally over the weekend) that they dread. This was the time they spent in a couple doing coupley things and now they’re single whilst all their friends are still off doing coupley things. So this day naturally brings back pain and longing for what you had well I say balls to that lets shake things up a bit. Saturday was my dread day after my divorce, Sundays I could handle I’d go get fed by my Mum or big sister but Saturdays errrr, all my friends had families (whilst my small humans would be off with their Dad) so it felt weird hanging with them and the ones without kids had partners so that felt weird too. So I decided to make Saturdays all about me ME ME! Saturdays became ‘Dr Who and steak days’ I can’t write this without gushing about my love for Doctor Who and Matt Smith especially, they had a big part to play in me getting happy again. For one the programe itself is so bloody lovely and good and inspiring and two Matt Smith is just so bloody lovely and gorgeous and yes me a grown woman crushed on him like a teenager but it HELPED. Something else I also love is eating steak and or a whole chicken with my fingers. Its gross but I don’t even care It makes me feel like a wolf or a viking or something.
Actual chicken I devoured by myself with my fingers.
The point is ‘Doctor Who and steak day’ is not something I would want to share with anyone else (possibly Matt Smith but defo no one else) It was all mine, just for me and something to look forward to. Even now happily settled down with a wonderful man I still refuse to watch it with any one else but me. So find a thing, go to the cinema by yourself, take a trip to the library stopping to get a coffee and people watch, go out and take photos, make something if you’re a craft type person, watch a series, go shopping for ingredients for something lovely to make JUST FOR YOU (Jammy dodger milkshakes also a firm favourite) make the day you dread into a day you love because it belongs to you and it’s the only time you get to do that thing you love (Sit around in my underwear watching Paul Rudd films also helped get me through)
Step 7 – Moving on (or the bit where you erase your future life painting and start again)
We spoke before how it’s not just a person you have lost but future plans and dreams, so now’s the time to recreate them. Before you met this person what did you want to do? Again for me when I was in my relationship I never wrote, I never went out and took pictures, I seldom bothered with making new social connections. The future doesn’t have to be scary just because you’re not in a relationship (at the moment) it can be a wonderful wonderful thing and an opportunity to do things that maybe you wouldn’t do if you were in a couple. This might mean learning a new skill, going to night classes, or picking up some knitting needles or a paintbrush, planning adventures, visits to see friends in distant places, visitis to make new friends in distant places. I think most of us crave being in a relationship but there’s also things to be missed about being single too. When you meet the right person you’ll be with them forever so why not make the most of being carefree. Also and this is probably another Blog post in itself but relationships are never healthy if they are your everything, if you’re in them because you can’t stand being alone, a relationship is best if it’s the cherry on top of the already delicious sundae. You are wonderful, just because one person out of trillions decided (for whatever reason) that it wasn’t right does not mean there’s not many many other people just waiting round the corner to have amazing adventures with you. For now though the most important fulfilling relationship you can have is the one with yourself.
And finally. . .
This isn’t just a shameful plug for my profession but seeing a therapist after a breakup can be hugely beneficial. Often my clients are left feeling insecure and scared and helpless. A breakup can bring back old painful hurts and false beliefs. Talking through all of this with someone impartial (occasionally especially after some time has passed we feel we don’t want to burden our friends) can really help. All those steps above when done with a therapist become a little easier, we’re able to be kinder to ourselves and not blame because a good therapist will talk you through and get you to examine all the negative thoughts you are having about your life and yourself and work with you to change them into positive ones. To quote Mama Cass ‘The darkest hour is just before dawn’ you WILL feel better I promise.
One last thing. . .
How can this face not inspire hope and a sense of adventure!!!
The raggedy Doctor.