Getting through a break up is one of the harshest but most rewarding experiences an individual can go through. While I know just how blind and conceited advice such as you’ll get over it, or the more prosaic every curse is a blessing in disguise, usually is, my aim with this article is to crystallize very simple concepts in small, manageable doses and with an eye on long-term recovery and not quick fixing our way into another false premise.
1. Understanding Chemical Withdrawal
The first step (beyond accepting that the break up may in fact be irrevocable this time) is to understand that the severity and oppressiveness of your thoughts are not solely due to separation, but are the result of a chemical safe-zone being evaporated without the brain’s consent. There is a chemically addicting element to relationship breakups that will lead to trauma, and there’s not all that much you can do about it. If you feel weak, pathetic or a “shadow” of your former self, know that you are living a suspension of reality, and that your thoughts are, at least in part, a product of a chemical intoxication.
In my article how to get over being dumped, I offer some examples that show how most of the pain can come from rejection, and not solely from separation. Accept that you can’t make sense out of everything or reason your way out it for now, and focus on taking one step at a time until the trauma begins to fade into sadness, and sadness into acceptance.
2. Put Yourself First Again
Developing a new comfort zone is an imperative part of healing and purging the void you are now feeling. Moving on is not an expression, it is an action. Reasoning your way to the other side will only serve to reinforce your dependency on the other person, or the illusion of a previous state of being. By saying this, I certainly don’t wish to imply that throwing yourself mindlessly into the mix in fierce denial is in any way a better strategy, but simply that it is time to drop the over-analysis and begin to take things at face value.
Embracing the present moment is the most effective way to drive yourself forward, because it minimizes the damage accrued from false expectations. Staring at the phone for hours because you have a feeling they’re going to call is damaging in that it litters the future with traps, and the pain will refresh every time one of our expectations is destroyed. Furthermore, it ushers in a stream of unknowable questions such as “why aren’t they calling?” which only lead us to imagine the worst, thus impacting our self-esteem and self-worth.
Putting yourself first means distancing yourself from expectations and dependencies and realizing that you are the master and commander of your own happiness and fate. It means taking life at face value and moving towards a fresh new life of your choosing.
3. Anger And Guilt
Many people are plagued by what they feel is a traumatic and undignified breakup, given how meaningful the relationship was (and is) to them. Guilt and anger are the anchors that keep us from progressing and finally squaring the circle. At times it may seem like it was all your fault, and at others as if they took you for granted and that you were treated without respect and compassion. There are a number of ways to practically diminish the pain caused by these negative complimentary emotions.
- Communication: Post-breakup communication is often turbulent, at times spiteful and often ends in a wall of silence. If you still have an open line of communication it can be extremely liberating to communicate your insecurities, guilt or anger in a calm and constructive way. Even if there is no answer, the act of expelling deep-rooted pain will liberate you, and often also empower you. If you feel guilty and wish to let the other person know, that come what may, that they were special and meaningful, you will also greatly help them as well as yourself. If you wish to communicate your anger, do not make the letter or e-mail accusatory (you will only hurt yourself in the long-run) rather ask yourself what questions and insecurities lead to the anger, and ask those questions in a cordial way.
- Triage: Surround yourself with people that genuinely care as it will greatly improve your self-esteem and value, and in turn eradicate trauma-borne insecurity. Part of the reasons why break ups are so beneficial is because they grant people the opportunity to build themselves anew, and to muster the courage to change that which needs to be changed.
- Let the statues fall: Nobody is perfect, accepting the fact that mistakes were made on all sides, and on all fronts, is an important turning point in the grieving process. This is particularly true with reference to self judgement. By forgiving yourself (the cure is self-irony and a great deal of humor, I find) you are also forgiving them, and the statue will come crumbling down (whether you want it to or not).