You unfriend them. You unfollow them. You un-everything that you could possibly do in order to give yourself a fighting chance of getting over them. You block, you delete, you ignore, you hide-from-feed. You do whatever you can to forget them, to give your mind and your heart as much space as they possibly need to move on.
And still, no matter what you do, they still seep into your life, even just a little bit. And it hurts, dearly. Because even a little bit of the person who broke your heart is a lot to take.
Unless you unfriend and block and erase every single person with whom you both have a mutual relationship, you will still be subjected to whiffs and glimpses of your ex that feel like a slap in the face. Because no matter what, sometimes they’re going to show up in a friend-of-a-friend’s Instagram photo, or in the background of somebody’s Snapchat story at a party that many of your friends are attending. Or they’ll be tagged in a status. Or included on the event list of somebody’s birthday dinner. There are an infinite number of ways that they will appear, seemingly effortlessly, back into your life.
And your stomach will flip and your heart will race and you will feel more nauseous than you’ve ever felt in your life. All from one little picture or post or tag.
Your instinct is probably to shield, to guard, to avoid them in any way whatsoever, because how can you possibly move on from someone if there are pieces of them everywhere you go? This instinct makes sense. It is logical, it’s normal. Sometimes it works.
But sometimes it doesn’t.
Sometimes, due to your social circumstances or to the mutual friends that neither of you is willing to lose or the close work environments in which you work, it is impossible to erase all traces of them from your life.
Sometimes, because we are in the age where it seems like every single person shares every single thing possible – they are going to heavily exist and live and breathe in the same world that you do.
Sometimes, avoiding them at all costs doesn’t work. Sometimes, what you need to do is learn how to let go of them when they are right in front of you.
It’s not easy, it’s not pretty, it’s not an inspirational story that would work in a 120-minute rom-com format. What it is is looking your heartbreak in the face and refusing to let it make you smaller. It’s taking your pain and learning how to live within it, instead of around it. Learning how to continue to work and play and spend time with friends and loved ones and travel and explore and do all the things you used to do when you were happy, and still doing these things now, even though you feel like an empty vessel who’s carrying out these actions merely from muscle memory.
There’s power in looking your pain in the face. In grabbing hold of it instead of trying to pretend like it’s not there, and realizing that, even though this is one of the most excruciating things you’ve ever been through, you’re still alive. You’re still breathing, and doing. And you’re also seeing a side of yourself that you didn’t know existed. A side that’s capable of keeping yourself going, even in the midst of complete and utter heartbreak. It’s a side of you that you would have never even known existed if everything was happy and perfect in your world.
Sometimes letting go of an ex has nothing to do with them – with avoiding them and hiding from them and blocking them. It certainly helps, obviously.
But sometimes, what it’s really about, is realizing exactly how much you are capable of, even when your world has (temporarily) gone dark.