Say it with me, “My name is (_____), and I’m going through a break-up.” Admitting is the first step. Here is an unauthorized multi-step program in rehabbing your heart.
Search for the truth
Because we are human, we inherit the paradoxical habit of hurting people when trying to spare their feelings. We offer clichés like, “It’s not you, it’s me,” or “I’m just really busy” to cushion the blow of a break-up. I think you’re doing yourself a real disservice by accepting this. Swallow your pride and ask for the truth. If you can’t look to your estranged partner for the truth, look to your heart. Often times, we know when something is over and why something is over. And very rarely is it because someone “just has a lot going on right now.”
Search for a lesson
Some say we search for lessons to lessen the pain; maybe. But I believe there is a silent exchange of your heart for a piece of invaluable wisdom. Reflect on your relationship, and ask yourself, “What have I learned?” A lesson I’ve learned in the past year is tolerating someone’s BS is not love. I learned being a doormat is not being a good partner. I learned the one thing everyone tells us long before we ever go on our first date; no one is ever going to love you if you cannot love yourself. Apply these lessons to your future relationships.
Search for the silver lining
Maybe you feel like your heart is tumbling on a downward slope of disparity. You’re just as beaten as the carton of ice cream you’re murdering, and the only promise you can keep to yourself is that you’ll “never be okay again.” After my last long-term relationship, I glued myself to a cold floor, closed my eyes and asked God, How could this happen? The deception! Wasn’t I a good girlfriend? Aren’t I a good person? Clear as day, He said, “You keep looking at the breakup as a punishment. It’s my gift to you.” And it hit me, no, bombarded me. For almost a year, I had chained myself to the cruel and unusual punishment of unrequited love. The break-up broke my shackles; I was finally free. Freed of cheap love, free to find better love.
I know what you’re looking for. You’re looking for a hint of regret, a subliminal song lyric, any digital equivalence of graveling. You’re looking to see who’s “won” this break-up. Is their new ‘special friend’ funny or pretty? Did they finally get their sh*t together? Essentially you want to mentally reject them the way they literally rejected you. But you’ll see they’re doing fine, and in some twisted, ironic mindf*ck, it’s like they’re rejecting you all over again. So stop.
Murmuring self-shaming thoughts to yourself is destructive. Stop thinking you weren’t good looking enough, funny enough or cool enough. These are shallow measurements of worth. You were likely good looking enough, funny enough and cool enough. You weren’t the right person. Please take my next words seriously: Love yourself before you lose yourself to the black hole that is self-loath. It’s mountain to climb out of.
In the movie version of your break-up, he throws pebbles at your door and proclaims his love with a boom box above his head. In the real-life version, maybe he does call. He says he misses you and that you were the ideal partner. They even go on to apologize for taking you for granted and breaking your trust ‘that night’. You’ll fill the silence between their monologue and your response with false hope, and never notice that they never said they want to treat you the way you deserve to be treated. The only daydream you should fuel is the one of you moving on, without them.
Accept your new normal
For a considerable amount of time, I kept waiting for things to “go back to normal.” I kept waiting to wake up with the same disposition I had before I had ever met him. As if I would have some sort of lumpectomy, and revert back into the girl I was at the beginning of senior year with no traces of his memory on my heart. I never woke up to this.
Instead, I looked up from my hands one day and stared out of a train window. I was leaving work in a new city I had just moved to, headed to a date with a boy who sends me flowers and tells me I’m beautiful. And the epiphany flooded my head, washing away any longing for the past, “This is my new normal.” You’ll never be the person you were before, and that’s likely a good thing. The person you were before didn’t have the wisdom you do now. The person you were before wasn’t receiving the love they deserved. The person you are now is so much stronger.
Really, this is no program to rehab a heart. It takes time, and it seems like we’re always ‘in recovery’. There will be days you outline his or her face in the air, and wish they filled the space in between your fingers. You’ll hope they think about you and think warm thoughts. But more importantly, there will be more days you’ll have a breakthrough, and be reminded that you’re going to be amazing without them in your life.