Long term relationship break-ups are no joke. They are taxing, exhausting, frustrating, and if you aren’t careful, you can end up leaving pieces of yourself on the floor of your previous residence, to be trampled on by your ex.
So, how do we move on?
Short answer- You just do it. Bit by bit, minute by minute, hour by hour and day by day.
You have to search for your emotional well being. You may not be able to do this alone. Some of us require a support network or even a therapist to help us get to the crux of our emotional stability and well being. Maybe you talk with friends who have suffered the same experiences, or perhaps you lean on family. Perhaps you need to even take time from your work or everyday responsibilities just to work through your inner struggles. I would encourage time away, for yourself, just to find a new path for your life. My therapist asked me, the day after I walked away, “How are you coping?” My answer was “Ten minutes at a time”. She actually appreciated my honesty and decided that it was a healthy way for ME to gain my own ground.
Often, putting someone you once loved in your past will torture your inner self-value. Self-worth and questions about your ability to share yourself can creep into your mind and take over your self-esteem. Often, the only way to get past this is to talk or write it out. Take the time to self assess your level of happiness, after you walk away, and make a plan to improve your own mental health and self-healing. Remind yourself that your new life is no longer about anyone else. It is solely about YOU.
Our Social Media world has made it virtually impossible to completely remove past loves from our lives. Most couples are Facebook friends, or they have each other on Instagram/Snapchat and all of the other apps “to stay in touch”.
A HUGE step in the process of detaching is to delete and block your ex. It may seem harsh, or even overwhelming to do so because it has become easy to see where each other’s heads are at via posts and photos. Remember, there was a time before Social Media when you could literally walk away from a bad relationship and never see your ex again. I know, it’s hard to believe.
The day I deleted my Ex from Facebook, I felt as though a thousand pounds was lifted off of my shoulders. I no longer needed to know what he was doing, or who he was with. Knowing was often more emotionally taxing than wondering, and it started to eat at my soul. So, I deleted him.
There are also mutual people in your lives that you may need to detach from. I call these people “pot stirrers”, as they feel the need to know WHY the breakup happened, WHO was at fault, and WHEN it all went down. They take those three ingredients, toss them in a pot, and create their own stories. You need to obliterate that from your world, or you will go insane. There will always be people who will be Team-Ex or Team-You. It becomes awkward or even toxic to try and remain close to people who are close to your ex-partner/spouse. Always remember that they have NOTHING to lose by sharing information that you share with them. They may be the most trustworthy sources you had in your life as a couple, but when your dynamics as a “couple” change, their perspective changes.
I had the experience of making an attempt to keep my cleaning lady, who was also someone I classified as a “friend”. She used to talk to me while she worked in the house, telling me secrets, and I shared mine. She was not just someone who worked for me, she was someone I trusted.
Once I was settled, I asked her if she would consider taking on my new place, and she replied with a surprising, “No”. She said she was too busy and she gave me the name of a friend who cleans as well. I JOKINGLY asked her if she would consider trading my new home for my ex’s house, and asked if I could keep her in our separation. I found it strange, because I was the person who hired and paid her at my previous address, but accepted the fact that she is very busy.
A few days later, I heard from a friend that she told my ex, verbatim, what I had said to her. He then, told our mutual friends that I was trying to win all of our friends, including our cleaning lady, and trying to “win them in the separation”.
That is the kind of stuff we need to avoid, or it will make us mentally unhealthy. People in our lives, as a couple, have all changed since we are no longer together.
It can be a struggle learning how others see you as the “ex”. But, you have a new life ahead of you and multiple, brand new opportunities to create a new tribe of your own.
After the Heartbreak is Over
The pain of walking away (or being left) can be debilitating. Your whole life changes when you find yourself without your life partner/spouse. Routines change, environments change, your schedule changes, old habits are behind you and new ones form. You need to find a way to EMBRACE the changes.
It is not easy. I will not lie and say otherwise.
You need to be patient with yourself and heal. The healing process looks completely different from one person to the next, and no one can tell you how long it will take you. No one can tell you what you need to do to heal. Other people can offer advice or experiences, but it is up to you to find your healing journey.
Trying to stay “healthy” is a struggle for some. It is so easy to drown your sadness with alcohol or other addictions. I am guilty of drinking heavily for my first week of “freedom”. It also depends on the company you keep as part of your break down. I went to a friend’s house to stay until I could find my own place, and we used the time to become re-acquainted and drink wine. Perhaps it wasn’t the healthiest choice for my healing, but I have no regrets. I put myself back on track and now don’t drink to become numb any longer. Luckily I caught myself before it became habitual. I also have lost my workout and exercise stamina in the process, but I can feel it coming back into focus, just like my return to writing has come back. We all have our own ways to “deal”.
Once the pain of being alone in a new world passes, it can be a beautiful thing. Suddenly your decisions are YOURS. Your life is YOURS. Your heart is YOURS. Finding all of the new horizons of opportunity is suddenly exciting and freeing. You can choose who you allow inside your heart and your life, and no one else matters.
The one struggle I have had since the initial shock and heartbreak has passed, has been flashbacks. I was in a relationship where I always felt scrutinized and controlled, at every curve in my day to day life. I always felt as though someone was standing over me, judging me and often diminishing my self worth with his opinions. It has taken time, but those flashbacks are FINALLY starting to be replaced with my own new life moments. Every once in a while one will sneak in, but I have learned to stop and remind myself of my new life, and my new decisions. Again, healing takes time.
I am also learning to force myself to think of happy times with my ex. Some days they come easily, other days, not so much. He is slowly becoming a faint vision of my past, and a blur in the video images of my former life.
Every Breakup is Unique
Your healing may not begin or end until the last bit of administrative shit is done between you and your ex. Maybe it will only occur once the finances are split, or once one of you finds another partner. Everyone is unique, just like every couple is unique.
I have also known a couple who have broken apart and remained close friends. If you don’t harbor any resentment toward each other, I can see that being an option. However, your friendship WILL affect the next partners in your individual lives and that needs to be addressed with your new potentials, immediately. Boundaries and exceptions need to be discussed, outlined and understood when Ex’s come into play in any relationship. Take it from me.
There are breakups that end on a painful note, or that create bitterness or even hatred. Then there are the breakups that end violently, or on vicious terms.
The priority following nasty breakups is always SAFETY. Your own safety and sanity are priority one. Your mental health is not worth feeling fear, paranoia or anxiety of dealing with your ex. Find a safe place and get the help you need immediately. Most times when violence or aggression occurs, the only way you can get the help you need, is by seeking professionals like police, therapists, counselling services, and the courts. Listen to your gut and avoid everyone who is involved with your ex, at all costs. If there are children involved, ensure their safety, even if it requires temporary time away from them. They also will need professional help to help them move forward from any trauma that they have suffered from the breakup. Please make sure that your children get all of the help they need. The trauma you endure ALWAYS affects them.
When aggressive or violent people suffer breakups, they don’t see it the same way as their victims do. They see it as betrayal, and as the gasoline to their already angry fire. They see breakups as personal attacks and they WILL fight for control, and to get you and your kids back. Without question.
Taking the Steps in Your New Life
Your new life will be replete with baby steps, celebrations, worry, fear, self-doubt, loneliness, new opportunities, confusion, huge accomplishments, and everything in between.
It’s okay. You got this.
Waking up in a strange kitchen to have your coffee gets easier. Going to work becomes normal again. Even being a newly single parent will become less taxing. You find new ways to manage. You seek and find new strategies every single day.
The best part? You find yourself again. You realize your strengths and your weaknesses without hearing them from someone else. You begin to develop your own patterns of life, whether it’s a new commute route to work, or a new gym to go to. You will figure it all out.
Over time, the heart you thought you once shared becomes your own again, and you learn to follow it, along with your newly honed intuition. You sleep, eat, work, and live. You rinse and repeat. You pay your bills and feed yourself and your kids. You survive.
Over time, without realizing it, you stop survival mode, and you stretch yourself into new places and you meet new people. You find new interests, new hobbies, and new risks.
And, before you know it, you no longer just “survive”. You learn to LIVE all over again. It may take time, and it may not be easy, but you deserve it. You take lessons with you, you use those lessons for your new life, and you finally begin to become someone you never thought you could be while you shared a life with another human being.
Embrace every damn moment, and celebrate your new you.
When you finally find love again, or even if you choose to remain single, your new you will feel much more valuable and feel much lighter and healthier. Your new path is wide open. Admire the view and indulge.