Breakups. Ugh. More and more often, I find myself working with ladies who join the Connected Woman program because they’re fresh from getting their hearts pulverized. And more often than not, I notice two things while we work together; either they become obsessed with self-improvement all in the name of getting what’s-his-name back (-2/10 no sis, you can do better), OR they genuinely seek healing in order to relate better to themselves and discover how to make their next relationship different (1000/10, would manifest here again).
But how do you get into the mindset of the latter? I’m glad you asked.
What’s the definition of insanity again? I mean, I’d argue it’d be the intentional return of low-rise jeans. But more commonly, insanity is defined as doing the same thing (or relationship) over and over and expecting different results.
I’m not saying that you should never get back together with your ex. And not to be redundant, but this comes with a huge “but”. Because jumping right back in without examining what went wrong in the first place, or worse, compromising who you are to get your partner to get back with you- both of these are recipes for a very unsustainable reunion. Please just don’t.
While it might feel like you’re dying, I promise you’re not. And the important work you’re about to do to reach true healing is some of the most transformative work out there. But for now, just promise you’ll stop leaving them poorly-accented voicemails. They know it’s you. Caller ID and all.
Listen, no judgment. Wounded people do wounded things. No one is immune when they’re hurt, desperate, and fueled by cookie dough and 896 continuous listens to “Nothing Compares 2 U”.
But I beg you, before you start your 5th covert fake ‘gram account to analyze your ex’s minutest facial expressions, just…stop. Before you fall down the well of “Why wasn’t I enough” or “I’m going to die alone”…don’t.
Ears open now, chica. You’re not stupid, or ugly, or lacking, or unloveable. And hey, maybe your ex isn’t the antichrist. Maybe it really just didn’t work out. (Honestly, in a harder way. If they sucked at least you could use that to fuel your self-righteous get-over-it rage.) Either way, you have to take a breath and grieve all that happened. You have to feel your feelings. Sorry ‘bout it.
Regardless of the length of the relationship, you’re going to heal at your own pace based on the depth of your feelings. People are going to offer made-up timelines and formulas (math, ew) based on duration, but I’ve been in love after a month, and “meh” after 12, so it really just depends.
The point is, despite the length, none of your past relationships were a waste of time if you choose to learn from them. Just get ready because the lessons you’re meant to discover will be sandwiched in between unpredictable emotional cycles. Sometimes you’re going to feel grateful for the time you had in the relationship, and the things you’re learning.
But then, think fast! Now you’re hulking out in a full-on anger meltdown of nuclear proportions. Then, briefly, you’ll wish your ex well in their new life without you, and send them good vibes. You will feel v. adult and zen, never knowing all the while…you’d quickly be taking a hard left into the loudest sob-fest your cat has ever seen. Feel crazy? Like you have emotional whiplash? Congrats, friend, you’re processing your breakup.
Scabs don’t heal if you keep picking them (again, ew). So your social media stalking is basically an electronic manifestation of your grimy fingernails, only instead of skin, it will scrape away your will to live.
Put down the phone. Delete the email. Block them on Facebook. Trust that if it’s meant to be, it’ll work out regardless of the number of sad scrolls you do on Twitter.
Give yourself the gift of at least 90 days to reflect and learn and grow (and watch “Pretty in Pink” far too many times) alone.
Well of course it does. You’re literally going through a sort of withdrawal. Your brain registers this as a death. It thinks your ex died. And in a way, they did. So do what you would do if someone close to you did die, and go gently on yourself.
Be honest about the relationship, and why you broke up. Own your part of it (hey, it takes two to tango). You can miss them, just miss them off the pedestal you keep trying to put them on. It wasn’t perfect. There were issues. Don’t avoid seeing them because they hurt. Analyze them.
And remember that grief isn’t linear. So your abrupt spirals into anger and hope and devastation…totally normal. Try not to avoid these tough emotions. Don’t try to numb them out with margs or entire KFC buckets of chicken. Now is not the time to pick up a casual drug habit — know what’s not cute? Meth.
Besides, all of that is numbing, it’s not processing. And it’s processing that’s going to get you through. This is a chance to take all of the love and time and energy you gave that other person and give it to yourself. It’s a chance to help yourself evolve into the best version of yourself, and not just because you want to win the breakup or get back together. This is for you.
I don’t care which you choose; journal, I mean really word vomit. Get really into baths. Develop an avid interest in hiking. Knit, manically – everyone gets mittens for Christmas. I don’t even care, just pick something to help you mope constructively.
Note: this is not a place to stay. This is a place where we figure things out before we truly move on. You’re biding time here while you’re sorting through all your mental stuff. You’re figuring out who you are and what you need.
And toward the end, I swear right before you really move on, you’re going to be tempted to reconstruct that pedestal. It’s like a final test or something. St. Patrick’s Day will pop up and you’ll randomly whimper “XYZ loved St. Patrick’s Day.” You’ll see a green beer and be tempted to weep and text the ex. Do. Not. They probably breathed air too, huh? Are you gonna be sad every time you take a breath? Do you want to give up oxygen? That’s what I thought.
Try and remember, your grief is mostly rooted in the future you thought you could have together. It was never real, you just wanted it to be.
Whenever it starts to feel hard again, please remember all the work you’re doing. Consider how much better you know yourself, and go over all you’ve learned.
And please do this alone. No judgment if participants are in a healthy emotional space, but you are not, and bed-hopping is only going to make you more confused. Intentional celibacy can help you heal so much faster and connect you to yourself in a newer deeper way. Plus there’s nothing quite like crying during the deed, because you’re not actually ready for sex, to make you yearn for death.
Just learn to love yourself first. Rebuild your life, and make it fuller and more beautiful than before. If you’re going through it now, I hope you know you’re loved. And that you’re not alone. I’m sending you light. Because there’s a plan out there for you, you just have to be patient and brave enough to trust it.
Thank you so much for reading! Be sure to connect with me more over on Instagram, I’d love to hear what you thought of this post and what your major takeaways were! Or head over to my website to learn more about how we can work through your relationship journey together.
And don’t forget to join my signature 12-week program, The Connected Woman, if you’re ready to go from anxious & insecure in your relationships to setting boundaries, healing yourself, and living your dream life!
See you back here in the next one!
I get it, girl. I’ve been there too. For years, I was going through the same experiences with men over and over again that left me feeling confused, anxious and pissed off.
I silenced myself in dating and relationships because I was terrified of being judged, rejected and abandoned. It all changed when I went through a break-up and thought “enough is enough. I cannot continue to repeat the same relationships with different men! Something HAS to change!”