Last year, I wrote a very heartfelt post on my experience with breakups. It was a tough post to write because it left me vulnerable to my readers, but at the same time it was a very therapeutic experience. I couldn’t have imagined the amount of emails I received after that post from women who told me the post helped them heal. It even caught the attention of the editor of Mend, who featured the post on her site.
I’ve been wanting to write more on the topic of breakups and have had this post in mind for a while. I finally decided now was the time to tackle this one. I’m not saying all breakups follow this formula, and would love for those of you who have gone through breakups to weigh in below in the comments, but this is just how I have experienced breakups in my life.
Denial can come in many forms. It could be you willingly ignoring the fact that your relationship is going South. It could be you making excuses for your significant other when you know their actions or lifestyle choices are wrong. It could even be you holding on to those small things you still have in common or still love about that other person when you know there is so much that is driving you apart. For me, it was telling myself it was easier to “stick with what I have than to have to start over.” I chose convenience over happiness for a long time and started to believe that convenience and happiness were actually the same thing. I was in major denial.
After the breakup, I was in denial about being fine. I kept telling myself and others that I was fine when I knew that I wasn’t. I remember going on this date and having it go horribly. The part I omitted from this post is how I came home and bawled my eyes out to my roommate about how going to the movies used to be so fun with my ex and now it was just a horrible experience. I tried my best to convince my self I was alright, but it took a lot longer to actually get to that point.
Anger was a funny stage for me. I remember not being angry at first, but the anger would come in waves. In fact, it would reappear in between other stages and even after acceptance it would still creep up later on. Initially, I felt angry that I had “wasted” three years of my life. (In retrospect, it wasn’t a waste. It taught me a lot about myself and what I wanted and didn’t want in a partner.) I remember being so angry because I felt like my ex had made me look like a fool by announcing our breakup on Facebook ten minutes after it happened (and before I had a chance to tell my friends or even process what just happened). Like I said, the initial anger didn’t last long, but crept up for a long time afterwards.
The bargaining stage is different for everyone. For some, you may try to convince your ex to take you back. For me, I never did this. My attempt at bargaining was the few times we communicated after the break up via text message where we said we would try to remain friends. I knew deep down this wouldn’t work, but it is incredibly difficult to go from talking to someone every day to coming to terms with the fact that you may never talk to them again, so I figured some semblance of a friendship was the route to take. (I believe this “friendship” lasted a few text messages and maybe two weeks?)
We also remained Facebook friends. This was the biggest mistake I made and I would highly recommend removing the ex from Facebook immediately. For me, the most bargaining came between me and the universe. I would bargain, telling myself: “I’m just going to look on his Facebook for five minutes, just to make sure nothing bad has happened. What if there was a death in the family? I need to know.” What I was actually doing: Creeping his Facebook, looking to see if there were any new pictures, if he added any new friends and painstakingly analyzing any comment from a female to see if it was a potential love match. This was not healthy behaviour at all and I wasn’t able to truly move on until we stopped being “friends” on Facebook.
I could write a few posts on this topic alone. I hovered in this stage for longer than I should have. I set up a comfy spot right in the middle of depression and just hung out. I didn’t eat for days. I lost ten pounds in a week. I cried non-stop. On the fourth day post-breakup, I forced myself to eat again, to regain normalcy to my life and to stop crying all the time and I did. However, it did take a long time for me to feel like “myself” again, since I no longer knew who myself was. I can truly say those were some of my darkest days, but those dark times magnify the good times that come after. I truly believe I wouldn’t be as grateful for my current relationship had I not gone through those hard times.
Eventually, although you may feel like you will never reach it, you hit acceptance. Beware: there are a few times you will think you have reached acceptance but you’re not fully there. That’s alright too, because this final stage is the best one, but it can take time. Once you get there, you will feel peace. You will open your eyes to the possibilities that are out there for you. You can start figuring out what you want for yourself and who you want to date. You may even meet the love of your life, like I did. I can say with 100% certainty that no matter how many dates I went on, until I fully accepted the breakup and moved on, I never would have found the one. Until I reached acceptance, I never completely opened up on dates. I was always skeptical and completely jaded. When I realized I was worth loving (and there were guys out there worth giving my love to), that there were date-able men out there (that were cute and employed!) and that dating was fun, everything turned around for me.
If you’re going through a break up and are in any of these stages, it’s normal. You may think it will never get better, but it does. Sometimes you think the one you lost was the best you could have had and that you will never find the right one for you. Let me tell you that life is a funny thing. Out of the blue it will bring you your soul mate, just when you’ve stopped looking. For me, I met Mark when I had stopped putting so much pressure on myself to find a guy and instead just let things happen. Now, it’s exciting for me to think that in just nine days, I will be married to the love of my life.
I would love to continue this discussion in the comments. Please feel free to share your opinions, experiences and advice.