1. Something relatively simple happens, like finding $20, or getting the best parking spot in the lot, or a 25 cent raise, and you can’t wait to share it…but you get a lump in your throat because you just can’t anymore.
2. You notice things more fully. Things you looked right past, like a bird’s nest in the tree out front, or the children throwing snowballs across the street.
3. You wake up earlier and have more of your days to experience. Or the reverse, and you sleep in later, indulging in some selfish, rejuvenating sleep.
4. You become dependent on your phone. It is now your lifeline to the rest of the world and your outlet for social media. And you begin to analyze pictures and Snapstories and Tweets at the deepest level, reading for some underlying, hidden meaning. Wondering if those song lyrics, that smiley face are about you.
5. You are suddenly blessed with free time, and you begin to fill it with purposeful, intentional activities that make you happy.
6. You feel vulnerable in ways only losing love can make you feel—it becomes essential to put on a good face because the whole world seems to be watching you, but all the while you wonder what that person’s doing, and if they’re wondering about you.
7. You want to share the excitement over that amazing thing you’ve been wishing for which has finally become a reality…but it’s bittersweet. You can’t share the news with the person who was there through the struggle. So you bite your tongue.
8. You are brought to tears at the tiniest of things—opening your door to an empty bed, seeing the fridge without his beer or her yogurt, or only one towel in the bathroom.
9. You smile with intention. Purpose. Until that smile begins to form naturally again.
10. You feel this sense of fear. Not at a deep level, but in a way that is much different than how you felt before and who you were before. You are now more hesitant to talk to the opposite sex and careful with your words.
11. You start doing the little things you’ve always wanted to do, but never could find the time for.
12. You see the value in family and friends, these dependable, truly incredible people you’ve been blessed with. And you begin to spend more time with them.
13. You have a little hole in your heart from coming across something hilarious or sentimental and wanting so badly to send it to your ex’s sibling, or mother, or uncle, who you know will appreciate it. But you just can’t.
14. You learn to fill the empty spaces, so you bury yourself in things like work and outings with friends and to-do lists.
15. You find confidence in the smallest things, like your outfit, or how you styled your hair, or the person at the grocery store who smiled at you.
16. You begin to accept that cooking will now feel tedious, and will remind you of how your ex would always cook with you, or how you would always have the perfect portions for two people. But you begin to accept this difference.
17. You try new foods, new recipes, new restaurants, and delight in the simple pleasure of doing something that you didn’t do before.
18. You learn how to make yourself a little less lonely—a fortress of pillows so it feels like you’re not sleeping alone, notes on your mirror to give you confidence, new pictures in the frames on your walls.
19. You fend for yourself, finding ways to organize your schedule or plan out your days in the way that you want.
20. You listen, really listen. To song lyrics, to the wind rushing past your car windows as you drive, to the silence of the morning. And you hear things you didn’t before, sounds that remind you to breathe. Sounds of hope.