Thursday, 16 June 2011

How to Get Over a Break-Up

 Image thanks to shandi-lee

Well I guess it’s time I spilled the beans on one of the major bumps in the metaphorical road of my life lately: I broke up with my boyfriend of nearly four years. Or, rather, he broke up with me.

Gut punch.

The amazing thing is: I’m okay. Actually, I’m more than okay, I’m pretty darn fantastic. But I wasn’t to start with. I don’t deal with rejection at all well (who does?) and thus there were points where I felt totally broken by my break-up.

The fact that I got from there to here inspired me to write this article, because when I was distraught, juggling pain and upset and disorientation in a way I never had before, I wanted a route out, and, with a lot of help, I found one.

And I want you to find one too. So let’s go.

Just feel it.

Emotions are rich, raw, rocking rides, sometimes good, but in this case, bad. But there’s no use fighting the fact that you hurt, that you despair even. Tears cleanse. They dump out the gooey gluey heartache, but you have to let them. At first, I told myself and the world that I wasn’t knocked by any little old silly insignificant break-up, PAH! I’m a queen, a goddess, his loss, right? Wrong. My loss. My heart-searing, gut-twisting, tragic, resonating loss. And when I admitted that, the healing started. Culturally speaking, as believed embodiments of Destiny’s Child’s ‘independent women’ – we’re not meant to grieve the men we lose, but instead dust ourselves off and get right back to business. But that, I feel, is unrealistic, and we cannot heal until we acknowledge the wound. So acknowledge it.

Say what you need to say... but not all of it.

Survival at the end of a relationship demands that you identify and express the powerful feelings sweeping through you, but express them in a way that won’t cause you or others further damage.” - Lesley Garner

Closure is important. If you’re going to miss someone, tell them so. If you in any way understand what they’ve done, say it. If you feel they’ve acted wrongly, state it in a rational way. Avoid, on the other hand, desperate pleadings – you’ll regret them later, because you won’t change their mind, and you certainly don’t want to add regret to the cocktail of heartache you’ve already got going on. That said, these thoughts need to get out, so here is my number one top tip: in ANY correspondence you plan to have with your new ex, particularly via the all-too-easy-to-abuse medium of Facebook, write it down somewhere else first. This is therapeutic as it allows you to write without censoring yourself, knowing you’ll edit it later, and in the editing process you can eliminate all of the non-beneficial bits (which will likely be about 90% of it!)

Don’t let a hurt ego hurt YOU.

Here’s a truth that will lighten the load of your pain: a lot of what you’re feeling is a hurt ego. Rejection, it’s tough, but if you get it into perspective, what can often be hurting more than the actual loss is the tarnish on your built up sense of identity – the projected self, not the true, core being. What can be most painful is the idea that ‘he/she doesn’t want me’. But what does that really mean? Nothing.

You are napping peacefully in a boat in the middle of a lake. Another craft breaks into yours and wakes you with a start. Thinking that a clumsy or prankish boater has crashed into you, you leap up furious, ready to curse him out, only to find the boat in question is empty. You laugh at your mistake and return peaceably to your nap. The only difference between the two reactions is that in the first case, you’d thought yourself the target of someone’s malice, while in the second you realised your “I” was not a target.” - Matthieu Ricard

Your ex once saw you one way, now they see you a different way – and the likelihood is that nothing fundamental in you has really changed. So walk on, head high, not cut down. Honour the loss, but free yourself of any ego-centric pain.

Make a break-up 'Plan of Action'.

This helped me so much. I opened a word doc., saved it to my desktop, and began listing thing after thing after thing that I could do to get past the break-up. This included positive affirmations like (and these are direct quotes!) “YOU NEED SOMEONE ORGANISED AND POSITIVE AND PLAN-MAKING AND ADVENTUROUS AND INSPIRING AND WORTHY OF YOUR RESPECT AND THAT PERSON EXISTS!” and, “You will go on to have one of those remarkable, life-long, spectacular, fulfilling relationships, because YOU were the one prepared to work for that, not him, and you need someone who meets you on that.”

It also included a checklist of plans for the immediate future to enjoy and help boost my confidence, such as positive changes in my diet, a haircut, a new perfume etc. All of which were very helpful! There was no censor, I wrote down all that I felt about him, good and bad; all that I felt about myself, good and bad; and all that I wanted for the future, with or without him. That’s my kind of therapy. When you stop needing to write things in there, you’ll know you’re getting over it.

Now is the time to focus on what you need from a relationship.

Rarely does a perfect relationship end this way. There were likely problems that you yourself noticed, and were obviously willing to overlook. Now is the time to look at them. Hard. What wasn’t fulfilling you? What did you ideally need more of? Or less of? Now is the time to ask yourself these questions, as, if there is any chance of your ex returning to you tail between legs, you want to be prepared to pull focus on how the relationship could actually work for you, or admit to yourself that it hadn’t been working.

Get perspective.

When the thing we want doesn’t want us, somehow we want it a whole lot more. Like that last bit of meal left on your plate that you aren’t eating but – when someone attempts to take it away – you wolf down. It’s likely that the same illusion of want is veiling your ex. What you need to remind yourself is that they weren’t perfect, although it might seem like they were, and that you, or anything you did or didn’t do, is not the sole cause of their retreat, although it might feel that way. To help solidify this, write a list of their bad points, or things that disappointed you about them. This formed part of my ‘Plan of Action’. You’ll be surprised how many you’ll come up with once you start – and this will serve as a real reality check for that part of you which is still pining.

Remember that not getting what you want is sometimes a wonderful stroke of luck.” - His Holiness The Dalai Lama

Lastly, let me share one little of piece of light that became my mantra in the throes of it all: you are impeccable; an exquisite challenge that your ex was unable to meet. You’ve been given a gift, the gift of a new future, now make it special.

Lost love frees up lots of time... time to excavate those parts of yourself that have maybe lain unused in this particular relationship.” - Lesley Garner

And do you know what? They might just be the best parts of you.

If you found this article helpful you might also want to see How to 'Get Over It'. Please add your own tales of break-up survival in the comments! And thanks for your comments on yesterday's post, they really mean a lot to me.


Anonymous said...

I had an inkling this happened a little while ago. It's a horrible thing to happen, but glad you've gotten past the absolute worst of it. I'm a long term reader of your blog Megan, since 2009, and just want you to know how awesome you and your blog are! Something fantastic will happen for you right around the corner that will put all the crappiness you've had to experience this year into perspective. But I think it's important that you don't forget all the amazing things you've done in the past year and take heart that you have loyal followers of your blog that appreciate every single post, though we may not say it enough! Sorry for such a long comment, just had to be said!

Amber-Rose said...

I was DEVASTATED when my ex of only a year and I broke up. Looking back though, I was lucky, because while it was upsetting, and miserable, it was mutual. We both admitted that we just weren't in it any more.
But, acknowledging that there were cracks, gaping great holes even, in a relationship doesn't make it any easier does it?
Well done Megan, for not giving up completely. You clearly have soo much going for you, and I'm looking forward to see what you do next. :)

Megan said...

Anon - Thank you, really really, thank you. It was worth writing about such an iffy topic to get just one comment like that :)

Amber-Rose - It is devastating, but you can always find reason in these things! And I think most of the magic in life happens as a result of the big shake-ups that you don't see coming.

Kc said...

Good on you for writing it all down. I always find that helps me too!! Good luck for the future, looking forward to lots more posts from you!


LauraCassidy said...

Megan, this happened to me a few months ago, although I didn't mention it straight out on the blog. (I guess because I primarily blog about writing, felt like I was still too upset, and wasn't sure how to say it.) It had never happened to me before and really knocked me back. I actually found one of your previous posts on emotional crisis really helpful at the time, because like you say I was trying to pretend I wasn't that affected, but the trick seemed to be to let myself break down a bit, in order to build myself back up. Thank you for being so honest and insightful as always! I really do think, like Marilyn Monroe said, "Good things fall apart so that better things can fall together." In the immediate aftermath I taped that to my wall, as well as "The best is yet to come." I also found the book It's Called A Break-Up Because It's Broken very helpful, it's really funny as well. By the time I read it I'd already done some stuff I regretted, but I guess I'll know for the next time! Hope you are doing okay now (I'm sure you are!) x

Sara said...

Thank you for writing this post - I don't think it can have been very easy, and I'm sure it will be a lifeline to lots of us at some point or another.
Posts like this are why I read Charade and never ever a Women's glossy.

I'm so sad to hear that your someone was the wrong someone. I'm looking forward to logging on another day and seeing you've found your happily ever after :)

Stay strong and wonderful! xxx

Megan said...

Laura - Awesome quotes! And I know what you mean, it took me ages to feel as though it was something I could say on the blog - but then I realised it's part of me and what I'm going through and I might as well channel that into my writing x

Sara - I've pretty much given up on magazines too; there's far more reality in one post by any of my favourite bloggers than in 200 pages of Cosmopolitan! &I guarantee you a happily ever after post :) Thanks for the lovely comment xxx

Silly Little Blonde said...

This happened to me at the same time. I wish I was being as strong as you. I don't know that I can do this. Its just too hard. I need some positivity but I am just really stuggling..


Jessica - Lovely Undergrad said...

Megan, this is the best post I've ever read about getting over a break-up. Several months ago I broke up with my before of nearly three years. And a couple weeks ago, a shorter relationship fell apart. Despite the very different lengths of those relationships, the process of getting over a break up is very much the same.

I'm still getting over the break-up of this recent, short-lived relationship and this post has definitely had an inspiring impact on my day.

Thank you so much. I wish you the best and hope to stay in touch with our blogs!

Natalie said...

I know this is an older post, but I'm glad I found it. I just ended a 7 year relationship, 5 of which we'd lived together. You have some very good thoughts and ideas to help me find a new path and come out of this stronger. Thank you


Anonymous said...

I'm so glad I found your blog. I'm in the process of breaking up with my boyfriend of 2 years. Although I'm the one ending it, it's so hard to say goodbye because he's a great guy but he's not the one.. Your post had a lot of great ideas and I know that they'll help me through this tough time. Thanks for sharing; I know it must have been hard.

Post a Comment