It sucks. There’s no denying it. Maybe the pain feels like it will never end and you feel stupid for thinking that maybe, this time, it wouldn’t end in heart break. You feel alone in your hurting and wonder why it happened, and wonder how things could be different in an alternate universe.
The fact of the matter is, broken hearts are part of the human condition. It hurts, but you can learn to navigate it better.
One day, you’ll realize you haven’t thought about this person for a while, and it will come as a pleasant surprise. You thought you might not make it through but alas, you come out the other side.
And when you do think of the person, your heart will settle on acceptance instead of pain. You’ll be able to sigh and continue on with your day.
Here’s some essential tools to work through your pain and move on with your life.
Don’t convince yourself you’re fine and unaffected. It might work for a little while, but eventually it’s going to bubble up and you’re going to snap like a bunch of beatniks at a poetry reading. You’ll drink a couple of glasses of wine too many and find five attempted and unanswered calls on your phone the next morning, and you’ll think fuck, I should have grieved. Ok, maybe you won’t think this, but if you allow yourself to properly grieve you’re less likely to end up in this predicament.
Call your closest friends, allow yourself to vent and be comforted by those who love you. Write in your journal. Curl up on the couch, cry, eat pizza and watch movies. Cry in the shower or when “Love on the Brain” comes on. Cry until you’re sick of your own sad soiree.
Make sure to get sick of the sad soiree, though. Put an expiration date on it, or least give yourself a general timeline. I think a month is a fair amount of time to wallow, take a break and process- generous, even. Spend your time in Wallowville, but don’t take up permanent residency. Think of this as an extended Airbnb stay. Do not sign a lease in Wallowville.
Redesign Your Life
Yes, your life, routine and habits may have gotten pretty intertwined with another by the time your heart is broken, but that doesn’t mean you are bound to a life stuck to work and the couch.
Replace your former couple routines with new routines. If you used to brunch with your ex every Sunday, for instance, vow to go for coffee instead, or spend Sunday mornings going to a new yoga class.
Make plans with and text your friends, dedicate yourself to your hobbies, and start up new ones. Read for pleasure. Go to see new music and movies. Go for walks. Window shop. Take yourself out. Even if you have to drag yourself to do it, keep living your life and getting out of the house.
Take Care Of Yourself
While downing a few margaritas and pints of ice cream might feel like the protocol, be sure you’re still taking good care of your physical and mental health.
Exercise at least three to five times a week (even just a walk or fifteen minutes of stretching in your room.) This will help release stress, keep your endorphins flowing, and regulate sleep and hormones. Plus, you’ll feel better about yourself which is crucial when you’re feeling vulnerable.
Keep it Fresh
Let yourself have the comfort food and margaritas, but not every day, and not to the point you feel shitty. Moderation (in moderation) is your friend.
Don’t let your grooming routine fall by the wayside just because you’re newly single. Sure, let your leg hair or facial hair grow if you’d like, but stay fresh and clean for you. Wear clothes (and even pajamas) that make you feel cute and confident so your mood is boosted all day. You’ll feel better and send signals to your brain and the outside world that you’ve got your self respect on lock.
Creating is your healing. Make collages, vision boards, business plans, paintings, songs, cakes, holiday decorations, pottery, rainbow makers, jewelry, clothes, photos, poems, puppets, forts, stories, essays, or brilliant cat trees.
You will transform your pain into your beautiful art and remind yourself you are capable. Plus, working with our hands and creativity can help take our mind off of other things as we focus on the work at hand.
Stay on Top Of Your Shit
Make sure your doctors appointments, oil changes, chores, and dishes are taken care of. Obviously you don’t have to be perfect, but try to stay on top of the little, mundane things so they don’t build up and become a seemingly insurmountable mountain.
Ticking off those life obligations will take weight off your shoulders. Plus, heading into your weekend with absolute freedom and no obligations since you’re so on top of your shit is priceless.
Focus on You
Spoil Yourself (without going broke) and relish in the fact that every decision is yours for the making without a significant other to factor in. Eat whatever you like. Have popcorn and chocolate for dinner if you like.
Wear cute outfits, get a facial or a massage. Paint your nails and maintain them. Buy yourself flowers, fresh sheets, and new underwear.
Be single for at least a month (although I think 3–6 is more appropriate if you’ve been a serial monogamist.)
Remember that this study was published by Happiness expert Paul Dolan and states that unmarried, childless women are the happiest demographic. Obviously, there are many studies that contradict this, but, hey, perspective is everything. Enjoy being single while it lasts. The grass is always, always, always, always greener.
Make plans for your life. If you’ve always wanted to live in a big city or the mountains, plan a way to make it happen. Plan trips or parties you’re excited about. Spend time dreaming about how you want your life to look in five years, ten years, and start taking the steps to get there.
Personally, while love and partnership are nice, I like to get to a place where I can fantasize about having a really fantastic single life and not feel like something is “missing.” What would that look like for you? This isn’t to say you shouldn’t want love or romance, it’s just to say, how could you be happy without it? When you figure this out is usually when it shows up, anyways.
Set savings goals, health and fitness goals, creative goals, career goals, travel goals. Break them down into small, actionable steps and write those steps down.
Start ticking them off. It’s just you and you, now, baby. Get it.
Catch and Release
Capture what you are feeling so you can let it go. Name your feelings and allow yourself to have them instead of swallowing them.
Get rid of evidence- get rid of pictures, gifts, texts, and love notes from your ex. Or hide them in a very hard-to-reach box in a dark corner of your attic or something. I used to hoard memories, but it feels much better to get rid of “stuff” and rely on journal entries instead.
Consider writing your ex a letter you don’t send. Say you’re sorry. Express your feelings and hurt if you didn’t get the chance. Then burn the letter. Flush it, or let the tide take the ashes out to sea.
Go No Contact
Do not contact your ex. Remove them from social media so you’re not tempted to look at their profile.
No contact, in my opinion, should be for at least a month or three or maybe forever, depending on the circumstances. “Just friends” is a tricky subject until some time has passed, so enter that arrangement with some research, soul searching, and at your own risk.
Wait to Date
A lot of people jump right back into the dating apps when they are hurting, but you are doing yourself and potential suitors a disservice when you do this. Get comfortable with your emotions, with being alone, and take some time to process what happened so you can date as a more evolved version of yourself.
Take at least a month to grieve and get to know yourself really, really well. Your relationships will be better for it.
Remember You Are Not Alone
It will pass.
So many great songs, music, and books are about heart break. Really, nix half of entertainment as we know and love it if heart break did not exist as a human experience.
Even though it feels like you are alone, even if it feels like you’ve been rejected (whether you were the dumpee or the dumper) you are not. Broken hearts have plagued humankind for centuries, and probably much longer. It’s a natural part of our DNA to want to pair up with another, fall in love, and build a family. And when that false sense of security is taken away from us, it feels traumatizing.
Know that you are not alone even though it feels like the pain will never end. One day, you’ll wake up, and it won’t hurt anymore.
You can still live your life, fill it with goodness, and keep on keepin’ on with your bad self until that day comes. You’ve got this, and you are not alone.