My love life has been full of love; I’m lucky. My life has also been full of heartbreak, and my recent breakup has been a personal worst. Months after my split, I’ve decided that I am not okay with not being okay yet. In moments of desperation, I have gone to the internet for advice, typing “How to get over him,” and then weeding through the suggestions. The question I’m really asking is, “How do I get better?”
Step One: Feel it. The only way to get through it is to get through it. Time alone is not going to make it better. You have to put an actual effort towards processing it because if you don’t, the process of getting better is going to take longer than it needs to.
Step Two: Practice abstinence. Getting over someone by getting under someone probably isn’t going to work in the long run. I don’t want my feelings to come around when I’m under that other someone. Women have cried (under that other someone): don’t be that woman.
Step Three: Do not have another. It feels good to have an extra drink (or whatever your extra is), but it doesn’t feel good when the extras wear off. Extras are going to prolong the process of processing, and what’s more, you’ll likely make yourself sick.
Step Four: Eat your sad food… but also eat everything else. So ice cream is my sad food. Breakups are not the time to deprive yourself of the joy that your ice cream equivalent brings you, but it’s also not the time to (let’s just say it) add to your figure. Eat the sad food, but eat all of the fruits and veggies in between.
Step Five: Exercise. For every mile I run and every squat I do, I imagine my ex being really sad that he left my beautiful behind, behind. (Exercise is also going to help with the added sad food intake.)
Step Six: Fix your money. Making your own money, and having enough of it, is independence; you don’t need anyone else to take care of you but you. Plus, when you get to a place where you can treat yourself to vacations or make life upgrades (like a new phone or a new car) you will successfully have upgraded your life far beyond the point you were at when you lost that special someone.
Step Seven: Make small “I’m going to” goals and one big “if/then” promise. Instead of, “I’m going to run a marathon,” start with, “I’m going to run once a week.” This is not the time to feel more defeated. This is the time to build yourself up with small wins. Then think of your “if/then” promise as a bargain with the devil, except you are the devil. An example would be, “If I run a marathon, then I will get better.” This promise serves as your long-term focus.
Step Eight: Take sick days. The term “broken heart” exists because it’s an actual condition that people suffer from. Allow yourself the same treatment you would if you had a head cold or an upset stomach. You may not have the luxury of taking actual sick days, but give yourself extra time in bed, eat the food you eat when you get sick (like soup), and enjoy the same comforts you would if you didn’t feel well (like extra pillows or Netflix). There is no shame in nursing yourself back from the pain.
Step Nine: Accept reality. In my case, he is not coming back for me. My life is not a romantic comedy. I am not going to check my phone to see if he has called or texted, because I already know he hasn’t. Staying in the hope is not going to get me through it. I will not edit my memory, sugarcoating my relationship or painting it black. I will allow myself to remember all of the good and all of the bad. I will not blame myself, and I will not blame him; I know why I did what I did when I did it. At the time I was doing my best, and he was probably doing his best, too.
Step Ten: Have a backup plan for the weak moments. Sometimes I’ll hear a song, it’s enough to induce amnesia, and I want to pick up the phone and call him. Instead of doing that, I’ll pick up my phone and text (or call) a friend, even if it’s just a “Hey.” I am not going to get the love I’m looking for from him, but I will get it from my friends. When I’ve blocked other people in the past, I end up obsessively checking the files where my blocked calls and texts go, only to be even sadder that I have not been contacted. This time, I deleted his contact, complete with the cute photo of him and I, so that if he does reach out, his number is as meaningless as a spam call and eventually I might forget that number that I know by heart entirely. Last, write yourself a letter. In my letter, I told myself it would get better, even if I’m not there yet. I take that letter out when I’m sad, and then I fold it up, hoping I take it out less and less until I can throw it away one day.
I had a relationship full of emotions, even on and offs, and just when I thought it was finally over, the man I loved asked me to spend the rest of my life with him; I was engaged. It felt like a dream, but that’s because I kind of knew it was. People wake up from dreams, and I had dreamt that I got what I wanted. The rules of breaking up are that there are no rules. I am not a girl who will get better under someone new, and for me, blocking is just not an effective strategy. I’ve had to navigate this process by figuring out what will work for me. The upside is that in learning “How to get over him,” I’m finally getting to know me and “How to love myself.”