1. We try to become new people.
New haircuts, updated tech, new jobs—in the ashes of a relationship, we try to rebuild by transformation. We might want to make our ex jealous, or put on a new look in hopes of having a new life. But at the end of the day, it`s just as easy to cry in front of a mirror with that new pixie haircut as it was with the old one.
2. We build bonfires.
In ancient times, fire was used to cauterize wounds. Nowadays, a common act after a breakup is to take all the polaroids, jewelry, wilted roses, and teddy bears and set a match to them. We take this ceremonial burning to mean victory; however, it is only destroying the evidence of our memories.
3. We distract ourselves from the pain.
Baseball game? Sign me up! Concert? Put me down. Starbucks date? Absolutely! Because it is terrible to sit at home and let the pain sink in, we push ourselves back into the activity. Our busy game may be on point—but there will come a moment in the bustle where we stop and realize we still feel alone.
4. We try to force healing.
“I should be over him by now,” I told myself as I drove past my old workplace. “Come on, hold it together,” my mental voice said just before the tears came. Somehow, we convince ourselves that a sign of strength is cool cheeks and perfect mascara. We force ourselves to hold it together, but healing comes when we let ourselves fall apart.
5. We medicate with the wrong stuff.
Instead of trying to find calm in the midst of pain, we try to numb it. Alcohol and adrenaline can distract you from heartache, but when you wake up with a migraine and nausea the next morning, the depression will still be there. Instead we should be taking walks on the beach and singing into hairbrushes and taking bathtub soaks—things that do bring peace.
6. We try to forget.
It seems like the easiest way to take away the pain is to wipe the memories from existence. This is why we burn pictures, ignore old hangouts, and refuse to talk about the time at the movies where we got popcorn in our hair. We deny that the ex was a part of our life. We refuse the idea that the lessons learned from the relationship have built into us experience, character, and a spirit of adventure.
7. We do not seek counsel.
The last thing most of us want after we get the “It’s over” text is to have someone tell us what to do. We want to sit in dark rooms and look through relationship memes on our Iphones and have peace to heal. However, sometimes what we need is a pastor who can give us Biblical counsel, a parent with a comforting hand, or a best friend who has been there before. Sometimes, even when we don’t want to hear “You’ll be okay. I love you. Now come help me bake cookies,” we need it.
8. We don’t say enough.
There are so many tears, screams, angry emojis, and lonely nights after breakups—and not nearly enough words. Instead of sending the ex a letter or having a friend mediate a conversation, we leave the daggers in our backs and try to move on. Regardless, we will have scars—so why not put in some stitches to help the wounds heal the right way?
9. We think moving on means a new relationship.
We imagine that the healing process cannot be complete until there is a new significant other in our lives. This prompts Tinder dates (with profile tweaks to make us look more appealing), Facebook pics with our new boo (who just happens to be our best friend posing for the likes), and eventual frustration as we realize that yes, we still are attached to our ex. Usually, healing doesn’t mean having our dreams of love immediately replaced. However, it does mean walking through the loneliness, and eventually having those dreams altered into something harder but even better.