We’ve spent a couple weeks away from the breakup posts, but as promised, I’m going to sprinkle my regular posts with some brilliant and insightful breakup advice posts. I have truly loved receiving emails and comments on my posts, and to know that someone, somewhere is benefiting from this rambling, well that’s all the reassurance I need to keep on “putting it out there.”
In my first post, I talked about how I wrote a “ground-breaking, mind-blowing breakup post” the first time I broke up with Mr. X. The post went into the ol’ drafts section after I decided to give it another go. I remember thinking, “Wow, what a shame – I think that would have been a good post.” Perhaps the fact that I was disappointed about staying in my relationship because I wouldn’t have the opportunity to share a post on my blog should have been a sign that it was the wrong decision…
Here we are now four months later, and good news, the advice is still relevant. The post was supposed to be a witty “letter to a person going through a breakup.” It has, of course, been expanded since I had an additional month of embarrassing material from the last month of my relationship to draw wisdom from.
I am by no means an expert in the art of handling a breakup with poise and dignity. Quite the opposite, in fact. But at the end of the day, like every other significant life experience, I learned a lot, and I might as well share those learnings with you lucky people that are in the middle of a breakup too…
Dear Poor, Poor Woman Going Through a Breakup –
Before I launch into my incredibly wise and surely eye-opening advice, let me assure you of one thing: It’s not the end of the world. I don’t care how long you’ve been together, if you have a dog together, whether you’re married or not. The world will go on, and so will you. I think it’s pretty important that you come to terms with this realization right now, because you’ll probably hear the statement from your friends and family about 50 times during this entire process…but, let me also tell you the following things.
It’s Okay to Feel and even Sometimes Act Like it IS the End of the World: You’re a woman. You’re emotional. You’re dramatic. We all are in some capacity (please don’t bother trying to deny it).
Cry one too many times. Say specific things just to evoke pity from your friends and family. Listen to horribly self-indulgent songs, like Roxette’s “It Must Have Been Love” as you scroll through pictures of the happy times on Facebook and eat straight out of the tub of Ben & Jerry’s . Watch “emotionally manipulative” movies like The Notebook and Sleepless in Seattle that are specifically designed to make you cry like a baby while you make a permanent body imprint on your couch. At some point, you’ll need to pick yourself up, but for now, it feels like the end of the world, and that’s okay.
Don’t Beat Yourself Up: Whether you broke up with him, or he broke up with you, somewhere along the way, you’ll think “Where did I go wrong?” Self-reflection is always a good thing. Just make sure you don’t enter into “I’m a horrible person and no one can ever love me” territory. Not a good look, my friends.
Allow Yourself to Screw Up: Love is a beautiful thing, but it’s also incredibly passionate, unforgivable and undefined. And, if you lost a love full hope, passion and shared dreams, then the heartbreak will run deep, and your breakup will probably be messy.
You will probably do things that you shouldn’t do, like go back to him one too many times or send a tipsy text about missing him. I’m not advising you to screw up on purpose, but accept the fact that you may make a couple of mistakes. The notion of breaking up gracefully is a myth, and if you experienced a great love, then it will probably be difficult for both of you to let go.
Don’t Be Angry With Your Friends: You see, your friends care very deeply for you, and they hate to see you hurt. So, when you make the same mistakes repeatedly, their patience may waver, and the tough love may begin.
You may think to yourself, “I am hurting – how can they be so mean to me? Is the world against me???” But, the thing is, you know in your heart that they just want what is best for you, and it’s frustrating for them to watch you continually step backwards. There will probably be a disagreement or two, but please don’t let your relationship problems fracture a friendship that you’ve had for a lifetime. You must ALWAYS keep the perspective that these people are trying to help you. And of course, remember that even when you keep screwing up, they’ll likely be the ones picking you up off the couch, forcing you turn off the Notebook, throw away that tub of ice cream and move on with your life.
You’re Not Crazy: Even if you cringe when you think back to some of the things you said and did during those last torturous days and weeks.
When I think of the final days of my relationship, I literally feel my skin crawl as I remember the way I acted. The whole “no regrets” thing. Yeah, I don’t buy that either. I wish I could take back about a million things I said during that time period, oh and perhaps reign in the constant waterworks of tears. And, that’s just the tip of the iceberg, folks. Here’s where you can implement that whole “learn from your mistakes thing” in your next relationship. Sure, you acted a bit crazy, but hey, at least you’ll never do it again (probably).
And if you’re worried that he’ll refer to you as his “crazy ex-girlfriend,” get over it. He might, but luckily, you’ll never know.
But, You Should Still Get a Shrink. Your friends can only listen for so long. At some point, you may need to pay someone to listen. Don’t be ashamed – everyone sees a shrink these days. It’s the sane thing to do.
On a more serious note, breakups can really do a number on your emotions. Plus, a major break up offers you the unique opportunity to figure out what you actually want singularly, without the influence of anyone else. And sometimes, you just might need a professional to help you sort through it all. At the price of a $20 copay, you might as well give it a shot.
Silence is Really F*** Golden. Whether you think you want “closure”, or you just want him to understand why he’s the a**hole in this situation, you’ll never get what you want. And, nothing good can come out of continued communication.
After my breakup, there may have been more than a few texts/emails to prove our point-of-views to each other. I’m not proud of it. Even though I knew he would never understand, I kept thinking if the words were written just right, perhaps he’d finally get it.
Shockingly he didn’t. My words were met with more hurtful words back, and the cycle continued for a few days. Finally, one morning when I woke up to an email that made me cry, I made a decision: I filed it away and never wrote back. That was the moment I realized I was going to be ok.
In the immediate aftermath, the wounds are too fresh, and neither of you will be open to listening to each other. So do yourself a favor, and resist the urge to communicate.
But, You Really Should Talk About it More. It’s very easy to block out bad times. It is much harder to deal with the emotions head-on and work through how they have affected you and what you need to change moving forward.
So, if you never think about him or your relationship, don’t be too quick to pat yourself on the back.
Make sure to check in with yourself every few weeks to ensure that you are dealing with any residual damage. Write it down. Talk to that shrink. Call a friend. Just don’t avoid the emotions entirely, or they’ll come back to bite you down the road.
Let Your Friends Be Bitter for You. One night, my best friend asked me, “Is it weird that I hope to run into him so that I can have my Charlotte, Sex and the City, ‘I curse the day you were born moment’?” In other words, she was asking me if it was acceptable for her to hold on hope to give him a piece of her mind.
We laughed, and I told her, “Of course!”
But, then I realized something. I had no desire to give him a piece of my mind. He did things wrong. I did things wrong. We were wrong together. Knowing that, I genuinely held no ill towards him whatsoever and felt no need to give him a piece of my own mind.
This realization and lack of bitter feelings towards him was liberating. That doesn’t mean I’m going to call him on his birthday and text him on every holiday, but it does mean that I wish him well. My friends can take on the bitterness for me – it won’t hold them back from moving on or keep them awake at night.
Don’t be Afraid to be a Cliché. Did it ever occur to you that clichés exist because they work?
One of the many things you’ll read and hear from your friends after a breakup is that you should take some time to figure out what you want.
Don’t roll your eyes – it’s true.
You’ve spent the last X years trying to balance your own wants, needs, goals and dreams with another person’s. And, if you’re anything like me, you probably let go of more than a few of them in the endless pursuit to compromise and accommodate. Set aside some time to actively think about what you want in life and out of a relationship.
I have a running document on my computer that does just that. It’s nothing formal or incredibly profound, but every week, I try to add to the list. Sometimes it feels a little over-sentimental and cliched, but I know that it will be an invaluable reference to me the next time around.
Furthermore, don’t get all angry when you hear the following words:
- Plenty of fish in the sea
- Take it one day at a time
- Time heals all wounds
- It will happen when you least expect it
- You’re such a catch
- You’re better off without him
- Everything happens for a reason
Look, you’ve been a mess for the past few months, and your family and friends stood by you. Can you blame them for resorting to cliche breakup advice at this point?
I don’t know the circumstances of your breakup, but I do know that no matter what happened, you will learn something from this shitty experience, it will get better every day and eventually, you may even be able to laugh at what you went through during that seemingly horrible breakup.
PS – Happy St. Patrick’s Day – Make these cupcakes immediately and drown any leftover sorrows in a green beer or Skinny Shamrock Shake.
Now, it’s your Turn:
What is your #1 piece of breakup advice? (Feel free to write more)…
Disagree with any of the above? Do tell…