I remember the last time I got dumped. Naturally, as luck would have it, it was by the man I considered, at the time (and for some time afterward) to be the love of my life. No, no guy-I’m-not-that-into-dumping-me. For me, it had to be the big one… the one, and my god, I was devastated.
Driving to work that sunny February morning after our phone conversation (we lived in different time zones), I was in a state of complete and total shock. As I replayed every moment from our relationship over in my head with ease, but struggled to recall the details of the talk we’d just had, I wracked my brain for a reason why this was happening. He said he still loves me, didn’t he?
Yes, those words had come out of his mouth complete with his seductive English accent. But he also said clearly “I can’t do this anymore.” That was the point I didn’t want to hear. So I pretended it hadn’t been said. Or at least I ignored it…
Break ups suck. We all know it, we’ve all been through it. Some are worse than others and while it’s bad to be on either side, it’s certainly harder to be dumped than to do the dumping – at least most of the time. That said, there are several lessons to be learned from every split that you have. Whether it’s how to do better next time or how not to hurt someone else, you’re bound to get something from the experience. Take it from someone who knows. It took me a whopping 18 months to get over said Englishman, but eventually, I did – and I grew. So now, with the benefit of 20/20 hindsight, here are some tips to take from my last relationship’s demise.
A little help…
Keep your most important resource on hand – your friends! Now is not the time to be alone for extended periods of time. Naturally, you’ll need some solitary time to cry, to think and even to grieve, but if you shut yourself away you’ll find you’re quick to forget that there’s a world out there… and your break up will loom all the larger. No matter what the tragedy is (and you may eventually come to realize your break up does not quite qualify as tragic) life does go on. And yours is no exception. So get out there and live it even if you have to force yourself! Does this mean you hook up with the first hottie that comes along? No. In fact, that’s a bad idea – trust me. So how do you do it?
Don’t forget to utilize your friends as “take me out” resources. Know when to make the call and say I need to get out of the house or let’s go out to dinner. My friends were instrumental in my survival (even if they contributed to a few hangovers in the process). They listened and fed me plenty of chocolate chip cookie dough (straight from the package) – at least for a little while. It may not sound possible, but a chick flick matinee can make all the difference in the world when you’re downtrodden. Even if it makes you cry, at least you’re letting it out – and there’s somebody there who understands. Since heartbreak happens, you’ll most likely be able to return the favor sometime. Plus, hopefully, your friends offer voices of reason when your inner voice is unreasonable. That said, try to remember the next tip…
We women often feel the need to have answers. The problem is, we look for them outside of ourselves. You can analyze your relationship (and your break up and your ex) until the cows come home, but your ex is not going to follow – or at least you can’t make him follow by thinking about it.Consider this: If you suddenly knew that your ex had been holding a candle for his old girlfriend or that he truly needed to focus on his career before he could focus on a relationship, would you feel any better? Probably not – and you might feel worse! Break ups hurt for a variety of reasons, but most of the really bad stuff (you know, the kind where you, twenty Marlboro Lights and a bottle of vodka get together and wallow – every night) comes from ego. The hardest thing to learn is that in most cases (cheating and abuse don’t fall into this category for obvious reasons), the break up has nothing to do with the person being broken up with and everything to do with the person doing the breaking up.
In short, most times, there was nothing you could have done differently. And if there was, it’s not like you can jump in your magic time machine to change it. So stop mulling it over and over again in your mind. Take as long as you need to mourn – a loss deserves mourning. But asking yourself (or worse, your ex) why, why, why isn’t going to do you any good. If anything, it’s going to make you take longer to heal – and drive you crazy in the meantime! I did that. It’s not fun!
Take care of you
Okay, so that cigarettes and vodka and cookie dough thing… it’s good maybe for a little while. Everyone needs to indulge themselves now and again – particularly in the face of heartbreak. But ultimately, the best way to take care of you is to really take care of you. Eat right, exercise, have a massage or a mani/pedi. It’s kind of like you’re tricking yourself – by looking good you’ll start to feel good. You’ll want to get out more, you’ll stop thinking about what you’re missing and instead become mindful of what you’ve got to offer.
Extended gluttony will do only one thing: make you dislike yourself. This is exactly the opposite of where you need to be post-break up. Make this your time to do the things you weren’t doing because your relationship was a priority. Take a class, get a hobby or travel. Do whatever you’ve always wanted to do. You may find, as I did, that you get over the pain of the break up – and discover a whole new side of yourself in the process.
The upside of any downtime is that ultimately, you’ll come out of it a stronger and more fully formed person. Your next relationship (and you will have one) will most certainly not be the same, but it can be better – I learned that lesson first hand too.
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