I imagined breaking up to be excruciatingly painful, miserably upsetting, and undeniably depressing. I prepared myself for those emotions, but as surprising as it may sound, breaking up with somebody is easy. What comes after that – the lonely nights, the endless what ifs, and the nightmares that follow – those are the things that will either make you stronger or break what is left of your shattered heart. I chose to remain silent about certain things I wished I had immediately discussed, ran away from issues I should have resolved, and wandered around asking the familiar question we ask ourselves: “Why me?”
Enough… I forced myself to be overcome with emotions just to make the breakup as dramatic as possible. Yes, I looked in the mirror and pretended I was an actor. I tried to cry from what happened, but there were no tears flowing from my eyes and there were no daggers stabbing my heart. It was during that time I realized that asking myself “why me?” was no longer necessary, and the only question left unanswered was “what’s next?” And this is why I am writing again, ready to bare it all.
So, what is next after a breakup? Should I get my haircut done, thread my eyebrows or hit the gym? Should I call my friends and talk about how awesome I feel just to give myself the validation I needed? Or should I start moving on? But how do I move on? Well, here are the few things I learned from my dramatic process of moving on.
Stage 1: The Self-Pitying Moods
Morning after morning after the break up, you will feel a little less pretty since nobody is there anymore to tell you the things you always wanted to hear like “You are beautiful just the way you are” or “You are the most precious thing God created in this world”. Psssssh! We all know those are lies, but we still believe in it because it makes us feel whole. And now that he is gone, you wake up feeling incomplete or worthless. You try to cry, but you know it will only make matters worse (Remember: Nobody is going to call you beautiful anymore, so why make yourself look uglier, right?).
So what you do is call your friends, whoever is available to listen to your rants and insecurities. You ask your friends some questions you already have answers to, but you still wanted them to say that it was his loss, not yours. That you are not as ugly as you think you are. That there are many fishes in the sea; you just need to grab that fishing net so you can start collecting and selecting. By the time you are about to end the call, you will feel somewhat good about yourself, but the moment you hang up… fuck, here it goes again!
Some days – not often, but a few – you do not feel like talking to anyone. You just lock yourself in your room and maybe, just maybe, listen to TLC’s Unpretty. When you finally get tired of listening to that song over and over again, maybe you will just rent your favorite movie about two star-crossed lovers (consider Romeo and Juliet, maybe?). Does it help you lift your spirits? NO. But it adds flair to the situation and it gives you the motivation to become the dramatic queen you are. Yay, more time to self-pity!
Some would say it is unhealthy to nurture the negative emotions you are feeling inside, but do not let their opinions deceive you. Because the matter of the fact is: We need that negative emotion. We need to feed it and let it grow so that we will get tired of it and eventually get rid of it for us to finally move on to the second stage.
Stage 2: The Stalking 101
Let us not kid ourselves. I know there are a lot of things we may not agree on, but this stage is one of our favorites. Now that you are finally done pitying yourself, you finally summon the courage to check on your ex. Yes, he may have already deleted you or blocked you on all of his social media accounts, but you are a secret agent in your past life and you know it is time for you to use your resources. Ah, the advantages of modern technology! Ah, the purpose of having supportive friends! Ah, the benefits of having multiple accounts!
So you stalk him. But for all it’s worth, it just makes things worse. Why? Because you imagined him bawling about the break up! How his life changed for the worse when you walked away from his life. How stupid he was for letting you go. How life was so much better for him when you were still with him. How he regrets hurting you. How badly he wanted you back in his arms. But his posts tell an entirely different story. He is happy, while you are stuck being the crazy, horrible ex-partner he finally got rid of. Ouch! It sure hurts, but that is life. And then you will call your friends again and tell them why your ex is having the best time of his life while you on the other hand, still has not moved on.
And here are some of the things some of your friends would probably tell you: Stop stalking him for crying out loud, you got to move on, darling and talk to me when you are done with your stupidity. But despite all of their answers, we all know we are not going to follow their advice. Why? Because from the very beginning, we already convinced ourselves that we needed to continue stalking our ex-partners until we finally reach the third stage.
Stage 3: Waking Up the Dormant Volcano
You know what happens when you finally see your ex-partner with somebody? And might I add: A nobody who looked nothing like you (bitterness not intended… a little). This is the time when all hell breaks loose. No matter how much you prepared yourself for this moment, you will still feel something burning inside you, and you have to release it. So, what do you do? Well, normally you just keep silent. But we all know that we do not follow the norm when our emotions are running high, so you start bashing your ex and the new person in his life. You call your friends and tell them all the horror stories you had to deal with when you and your ex were still together. Like how his feet smell, how his breath stinks, how awful he is in bed, and how much you hated putting up with all his lies. You will only say a lot of bad things about him (because you are saving the good ones if and only if he begs you to take him back), and you will destroy him in the most literal sense.
You will feel this anger for quite some time, and every time you hear his name or see his pictures, you will unleash the wrath of a discarded individual. You will say so many negative things even if it makes you look bitter (because you really are), throw away all his pictures (because why hold on to something that is no longer there?), burn the gifts he gave you (probably not the expensive ones), and curse him to eternal hell (because he deserves to burn), because those are the only things that you can do. You put him up in a pedestal so high when you were still together, that you needed to finally drag him down. He broke your heart in the first place, it is time you bury him six feet under.
Stage 4: The Denial
Your anger finally subsided, but you still cannot accept the truth. So, you make up things in your mind to keep you sane. You deny all the facts laid out in front of you, even telling people that your ex is just pretending to be happy without you in his life. That maybe, just maybe, he is trying to make you jealous because he knows that you will ask him back if you see him with another person. Oh dear, here is a reality check for you: He really knows you. That is why he is never ever going to come back!
This is probably the most painful stage in moving on. This is when all the emotions you detached yourself from will finally come down pouring on you like an avalanche. It is not going to kill you, but it is going to hurt a lot. You will come up with explanations, but you know that those are just the familiar excuse you always tell yourself to help you cope up with pain. And no matter how strong you think you are when it comes to dealing with this kind of situation, you will definitely break down. But this is what we all needed… a time to be defenseless.
At long last, you can truly feel like a drama queen. Go ahead and cry. Go ahead and wallow in despair. Go ahead and release all your moans and snuffles. We needed to feel the pain, because it is what makes us human. It is what is going to save us in the long run. It is the time to finally accept defeat and tend to our wounds. The fight is over, it is time to live on and learn to smile once more. At the end of the day, it all gets better. If not today, it will be in the future.
Stage 5: Welcome Back to the Dating Scene
You finally had your moment to shine, and now it is time to flaunt yourself to the outside world. When you completely persuaded yourself to try dating other people again, then you can truly say that you have managed to move forward. You meet people, you like them, and then you try new things you never tried before. You buy brand new dresses, finally have your well-deserved haircut, or maybe get a tattoo that says you are fierce or the better version of yourself. But… this is actually not the stage where you can finally say that you have completely moved on (mind you, I wrote move forward before). No. Just because you started dating somebody doesn’t mean that you are okay. Why am I saying this? Well, because sometimes, when we go back to the dating world, we tend to forget our own standards just because we wanted to be accepted and loved again. We are afraid to get rejected, which is why we try our best for people to like us back.
You should not let this betray you, my friend. We may be human beings who like to portray ourselves as somebody who is lovable, caring, and ready to adjust our beliefs and standards, but at the end of the day, when all is said and done, we are still what we refuse to believe – imperfect and unlovable more often than not. But we should not let our imperfection define us, because what is perfection if we do not stay true to ourselves?
In conclusion, we have our own process of moving on, but the end result is and will always be just the same. The only time that we can genuinely say that we have gone through all the process of moving on is when we get tired of all the bullshit we have to put up simply because we want other people to want us. Nobody is going to accept us if we cannot accept ourselves for what we really are. We need to pick up our broken pieces together and acknowledge the reality that we are not perfect. Because when we learn to completely love ourselves after waging a one-sided war, then we can finally understand what being able to move on is all about. To truly and absolutely move on means that we are entirely sure about what we want for ourselves with or without somebody to make us feel whole again.
Just because you are single does not mean you are still hoping for your ex to come back. Just because you do not want to start dating people does not mean that you still love your ex. Just because you are alone does not necessarily have to mean that you are lonely. Why don’t we stop asking ourselves “what’s next”? Instead, let us focus on the “what is” and live more with stronger heart.