All the sweet messages, the flowers, dinner dates, the lengthy handwritten letters, inside jokes – everything; they’re all gone now and you’re feeling like a deer in the headlights with not a clue what to do. You just keep thinking it’s a bad dream and that tomorrow everything will go back to normal. You pray your hardest that he’ll come back and that things are going to be fine. But the truth is, things are going to be pretty difficult for awhile.
Less than two years ago, the most important and constant person in my life for two years chose to leave me. I was so devastated because I lost not only my boyfriend but my best friend, the person I trusted more than anyone in the entire world. I knew that I definitely hit rock bottom, but if any of you are going through the same thing, I promise that it’s not the end of the road. I pray that the few things I’ve learned in dealing with my own heartache below will be able to spark hope, help your heart heal, lift you higher, and help you let go of the hurt in due time. Here are some things you can do to help yourself cope and heal.
1. Give yourself time to grieve.
A friend of mine once described break-ups to be the “worst possible thing that can ever happen.” I thought it was exaggerated at the time, but you’ll actually find it to be accurate once you’ve experienced it. It’s really like all the butterflies died and you feel like you’re being stabbed over and over again and there’s nothing you can do to stop it. I cried for about two weeks straight when my boyfriend broke up with me. I was confused and in denial. I felt like there was this hole inside of me that was never going to be filled again. I couldn’t believe that the person who once told me things like “I love you the most, forever and always” and “Don’t leave me. Don’t let the bad things drown out the good things” day in and day out, was now the same person telling me “What if I told you I didn’t love you as much as I used to anymore?”
No words will ever be enough to describe the pain that I felt. I felt weak and paralyzed. I could not eat properly and I had to result to sleeping pills to get some sleep. I’d cry myself to sleep and wake up still crying. Dreams would haunt me and every little thing seemed to remind me of him. If you somehow find yourself in the same situation, know that it’s okay to cry and feel the pain. It is inevitable and necessary. No one’s stopping you and it’s better to do so than repress, because you might end up exploding one day and the implications will be worse. Surround yourself with people who understand what you’re going through and pour your heart out all you want. Don’t rush things and let time pass. You’ll eventually get exhausted and run out of tears before you even realize it.
2. Let the emotions flow, but don’t let the breakup consume you.
One of my mistakes when I was grieving was that I let it consume me for a while when I shouldn’t have. I learned a couple of vices, I would do things that weren’t good for my physical health, and I could’ve done way better with my academics. I really felt bad about it after seeing what it did to me. It is okay to feel all the hurt, but you have to remember to pick yourself up every time. Don’t let it get the best of you. Try articulating your feelings in a nourishing way through writing or music. Some also say new hobbies and sports helped them channel their hurt better and get over it faster.
3. Stop blaming yourself.
It’s not your fault. No relationship is perfect and there’s no use dwelling over the things you could have or should have done to save it. If you fought until the very end to keep it alive, then you should be proud of yourself. You held your part of the bargain and you didn’t let go even when you had all the freedom to. Bear in mind that if the other person isn’t willing to compromise or work it out anymore then there’s no point in staying. One of the greatest things I learned from one of my best friends is that “Love is not a feeling but a choice.” The best test of love is even when you don’t feel like loving the person anymore you snap out of it and choose to love them because you treasure that person and you know how much that person treasures you. He could have chosen to love you but clearly, he just wasn’t as invested anymore and didn’t value you as much as you hoped he did. I know that you may feel like wallowing in self-pity because of getting left behind, but know that you will never have to live with the feeling of guilt or regret because of giving up too easily. Yes, it’s sad, especially when you think about all the promises and plans you made together, but maybe one day you’ll learn why the relationship didn’t work out and find that something better was in store for you all along.
4. Distance yourself from the source of hurt.
It’s probably best to cut all sorts of contact with him after the breakup. He is the source of hurt and you have to stay as far away from that as possible. Avoid texting him, calling him or even stalking him online. It’s better not knowing what he’s been up to because you might see him move on faster than you and it’ll just hurt seeing him get on with his life without you. It used to hurt me that my ex shut me out completely after we broke up, like I didn’t mean anything to him at all, but I realized that it’s fine because making any contact with him would only deepen the wounds I already have. He became a stranger. If you think that communicating will make things better, trust me, it won’t. He will never be able to comfort you the same way he did when you were still together and neither will he be able to satisfy you with answers to your unending questions.
Some people also think that you can stay friends after the break up – no; you can’t, at least not right now. It isn’t impossible but probably just not in the near future. Your relationship was damaged and the trust was broken the moment he chose to abandon you, and both of you need to heal before you can give even friendship another go.
5. It’s okay to be angry, as long as it doesn’t consume you either.
There will come a point when anger and hatred will replace what once was pain and sadness. It’s easier to deal with anger than pain, but just as exhausting. You’ve seen the monster in him and you probably think nonstop about how selfish and deceitful he is, how much of a coward he is and how vile and inhumane he’s become. You’ll associate him with villains, monsters or maybe even the devil himself, thinking “How could he do this?” I don’t blame you for being angry; you just lost who you believed was the love of your life. But just like sadness, don’t let anger get the best of you. Scream, throw a pillow or listen to empowering songs like Katy Perry’s “Part of Me” or Ashley Tisdale’s “It’s Alright, It’s Ok.” A lot of people who’ve gone through breakups say that one day you’ll wake up and just not care anymore. Wouldn’t it be nice to just feel nothing for the person rather than hate him for a long time? Remember: the opposite of love is not hate, but apathy.
6. Be the better person.
Along with anger comes the desire for revenge and justice. You’re going to want to hurt him and wish him nothing but bad things, and if you do go through this phase, I hope you eventually realize that it’s a waste of your time and energy. It’s just not worth it. Don’t bash him on social media, call/text him saying how stupid he was for leaving you or even plot revenge schemes. Just be the bigger and better person. Stay calm, collected and classy. A few months or even weeks after the breakup, secrets might finally be revealed, questions might finally be answered – you might see him with another girl so quickly or learn that he actually cheated on you and you’ll see him parade the girl around without an ounce of respect left for you, but always remember to keep your cool and shrug it off. If he can replace you immediately after the breakup then that just says so much about him. It means that he does not know how to value people and you shouldn’t want to be with anyone like that. It will hurt and it will make you even angrier but never ever make a scene or show devastation, because he doesn’t deserve that satisfaction and you sure as hell know how much better you are.
7. Try looking at the brighter side of things.
I know it’s always easier said than done, but there’s always a good side to every bad event. The breakup could be a blessing in disguise. “God wrecks our plans when he sees that our plans can wreck us.” You are young, beautiful, and free, don’t let one little bump along the road keep you from living your life to the fullest. Appreciate the people around you who don’t make you a thousand promises but value you enough to always stay. Make time for your family and friends who love you unconditionally. Join more organizations, focus on your goals, and make new plans for the future. Traveling helps a ton! Think of it as a learning experience and come out a better person. If you were together with your boyfriend for three years, then what is three years to the rest of your life?
8. Focus on yourself now.
Perhaps when you were in a relationship, it was always about selflessness and conquering life as a team, but now it’s time to be a little selfish and independent. All that matters now is you and what you deserve. A couple of months ago, I loathed my then boyfriend so much that I kept thinking about all the karma that he deserved but I realize now that I should just stop thinking about what he deserves and focus more on what I deserve. Stop thinking about getting back at him and start working on bettering yourself. Choose to excel more in school, get into sports or get a new hair color – anything, as long as it’s for your own happiness and well being.
9. Don’t give up on love just because some guy chose to give up on you.
Some people who’ve gotten their hearts broken often become cynical and put up these walls that stop themselves from ever falling in love again. To tell you the truth, I almost did. I used to tell my friends that I’d grow to be a bitter old hag with sixty cats, but you know what, why let one failed relationship define you? Nothing worth it ever comes easy after all. I don’t regret my past relationship because at one point in my life, it made me the happiest girl alive and that time will forever hold a special place in my heart. Every time you fall in love, you take a risk. Well I took a risk and ended up getting my heart broken. Who knows, it might happen again once or twice in the future. It’s a real challenge, but I’d like to believe that all these risks are going to be worth it when I finally find the right guy. I hope you believe as much as I do and fall in love whenever you can. It’s always better to love than to never have loved at all.
10. Love yourself enough to know that you deserve the very best.
Don’t settle for anyone mediocre just because you weren’t patient enough to wait for the very best. Don’t worry, that guy who just broke your heart isn’t the best, because the right guy wouldn’t have the guts to leave you. To anyone who’s going through the same hurt I’ve been through, know that you deserve even more than the love you know you can give. You deserve stability; someone who won’t ever walk out on you when things get rough. You deserve honesty at all times. You deserve to be treated right. You deserve faithfulness, respect and compassion; otherwise it isn’t love at all.