If you’re on my mailing list, you’ll know that I recently experienced a breakup.
While I’m (truly) feeling great now, breaking up is never easy.
Like relationships, I see breakups as an opportunity to learn about ourselves and grow.
I also believe that how we deal them can impact our next relationship and our future.
When going through a breakup, we experience all kinds of emotions – grief, anger, sadness, guilt, shame.
We sometimes begin to doubt ourselves and question our abilities. Perhaps wondering if we’re truly loveable. Or if we are capable of the kind of loving, satisfying, long-term relationship that we want.
I know I experienced all of these responses.
I also battled with myself about whether I’d made the right decision, even though deep down, I knew it really was the right choice for me.
So, I want to share some of the knowledge I learned during these challenging times that helped me stay centred and eventually find incredible happiness.
Here are my tips and suggestions:
Take your time to recover
I realised I was putting pressure on myself to feel better in an invisible timeframe. I felt that perhaps because I’m a therapist, or because I knew I was making the right decision that it shouldn’t affect me ‘too much’.
Different relationship breakups cause different reactions. I’ve been in relatively long relationships where I walked away feeling grateful and really clear. And I’ve been in shorter relationships that hit me harder than expected when they ended.
Breaking up is a uniquely personal and emotional experience, so you should take your time to recover and repair yourself. There are no rules about how long this should or will take. Be kind to yourself and patient with your feelings.
Be connected with how you feel
We move through emotions fastest when we really allow ourselves to feel them. If we’re trying not to feel or pretending not to feel, the emotions that we’re actually feeling get stuck. They can hide and wait under our surface, or they can turn into blocks, pain or numbness in our body.
Emotions sit in layers, so be willing to feel each of your layers.
If you find yourself going over the same story over and over, or are caught in blame, frustration or anger, there are probably emotions under the surface that you’re not feeling.
Find a quiet place to sit and breathe deeply into your body. Allow yourself to feel whatever it is you’re feeling. Just notice the sensations that each emotion brings to your body. Give yourself permission to feel and accept each one. This is how you can move through your layers to what is at your core.
Another tip to connect with how you feel is to write a journal.
Putting down on paper how you’re feeling allows you to vent in a safe and private way. You’ll get all those emotions off your chest. It can be a calming and reflective exercise.
Take care of yourself and do what makes you happy again
Self-care is vital when we’re going through any kind of challenging time. Nourish yourself and take care of yourself.
I did little things. I painted my nails, got my hair done and bought some nice candles for my house. Many, many cups of tea were had!
Sometimes I made nourishing food for myself and sometimes I ate entire tubs of chocolate mousse. Regular exercise helped me feel good physically and got my feel-good endorphins flowing.
Be sure to do at least one thing for yourself every day that makes you feel valued.
It’s ok to feel angry and resentful, but while your anger is directed outwards, you’ll miss what’s happening for you inwardly. You may stay stuck or misdirect your focus.
When we take responsibility for our part in the relationship and the breakdown, we set ourselves free.
Relationships and breakups can be incredible mirrors.
Whatever you feel your partner was doing to you – ask yourself: How was I doing this to myself?
Or: How was I doing this to them?
When you forgive yourself for your part, you’ll also forgive your partner for their part.
Set goals for yourself
Chances are that many of your long-term plans in life involved your partner in some way. When a relationship ends, we not only grieve for the partner that isn’t with us anymore, but also all the hopes and dreams we had for our life together.
You can feel like you don’t know who you are or where your life is going anymore.
I did a lot of inward searching, goal setting and re-planning my life for the year to come. When you make plans with a partner and then experience a breakup, those plans need to be reshuffled or changed. It can feel like you’re standing at the base of a huge mountain. Try not to let it overwhelm you. Take tiny steps forward.
I set myself simple goals, like reading a book every month for the next two months. I vowed to try cooking some different meals, perhaps that I wouldn’t have cooked before because my partner wasn’t keen. And I revisited all the life goals that I really wanted for myself.
And I started to feel empowered again.
Reach for support
Reach out to your sisters, family, and support networks.
We often try to keep our experience hidden from others, so that everything looks perfect from the outside, but allowing others to help us process during this time is important.
You won’t always feel strong, so try to have a few people around you, who can help you when you need it. Let your close friends know how you feel, lean on those around you for support and get some practical advice if you’re struggling with the changes that are occurring.
Get back on the horse when you are ready
Don’t feel like you must date again right away. My friends all gathered around me and told me of great guys they knew that would be perfect for me. I wasn’t ready, and while I appreciated the thought, I didn’t need the pressure of entering the dating world again.
Even just a casual date, I knew I would be going along for all the wrong reasons and would probably feel worse afterwards.
When the time was right for me, going on a few dates really helped me see possibilities for my new future. It also reminded me to just have fun and laugh with someone again.
Only you know how you feel, so take this time to really get in touch with yourself and trust your instincts.
And lastly, stay positive.
Some days it will feel like you’re not making any progress with ‘moving on’ or feeling better. But I promise, the dark days will end and one day soon, you’ll look back and marvel at how far you’ve come.