You need to practice tough love after a breakup. When your heart is raw and reeling, it will do all of the bleeding for itself. It does not need your enabling – evenings spent pouring over photos and 3am wine-drunk voicemails. When your heart is falling in around itself, it needs your strength to help keep it together. It needs early bedtimes and busy mornings. Healthy food and hearty routine. It needs you to force yourself to get up and face the world in all the ways you are not quite ready to, because it has the falling apart covered. The pain can take care of itself, but the healing has to come straight from you.
You need to practice tough love when you’re transitioning. When life isn’t quite what it used to be but it’s also not what it will be next, you need to be the bridge that takes you from one stage of your life into another. When everything around you is shifting and you’re not sure whom you can rely on, you are the person that you need to be able to trust. The person who will get you up every morning and tackle the day no holds barred. The person who will push you confidently forward, into the life that you’re going to live next. You need to be the person who refuses to feel sorry for or down about themselves – who knows that bigger things are coming because they can rely on themselves to get them there.
You need to practice tough love when you’re alone. When the walls are all closing in around you and nobody’s there to hear your cries, you need to be the one who comes to your own aid. Who refuses to give into old habits, who chooses better methods of coping, who wipes their own tears and faces down their fears as many night in a row as they need to, in order to keep going. You need to be the person who forces themselves out on the nights when socializing seems difficult and fruitless and inane. You need to be the person who makes sure you show up, because life isn’t going to come find you in your sweatpants on the living room couch.
You need to practice tough love when you’re afraid. When the road ahead looks too daunting to walk down but the road behind you is in pieces, you need to be the one who can walk forwards on shaking, trembling legs. You need to be the person who pushes you, the person who changes you, the person who challenges you to be bigger and stronger and more capable than you ever thought was possible. You need to be the one who isn’t afraid to take a chance on the future because fear is going to keep you stuck where you are, for exactly as long as you allow it to.
You need to practice tough love when life is plentiful. When everything you’ve wanted comes pouring in around you, you need to remember that it can disappear just as quickly if you start to neglect your own needs. That it’s up to you to maintain the flow of positivity and opportunity and good fortune. That good things don’t happen by chance but that you can make them happen through change. And change is a constant that you need to keep up with.
The truth is, tough love can be tender. Tough love can be kind. Tough love can allow you those nights where you simply need to curl up in a blanket and forget about the world for a while. It’s not about the abandonment of your needs, but the deliberate, intelligent management of them. Tough love is your commitment to loving yourself in the way that a parent would love you – kindly and warmly, but not without high expectations.
Tough love means realizing all that you’re capable of – and pushing yourself, lovingly, to achieve it.