Things I learned from heartbreak, pt. 1

Can you believe we are almost to February? Me neither.

One of the things I have been working on this month and will be continuing to work on in February is a speech that I am writing for a work event on March 2nd. I am SO excited for this event because it will be the first one I’ve done in almost three years.

There is something so beautiful to me about the fact that this speaking engagement is on March 2nd. This year, it will be a day of demonstrated healing, change, and growth.

March 2, 2016, however, was a day that changed my life in more ways than one, in just a matter of minutes.

It changed my relationship status (from in a relationship of four years, to suddenly single), the state of my heart, my focus from on school and my career, to survival, and just getting through each minute without feeling the weight of my heart being broken into a million pieces. No longer was I worried about homework or my internship. Now I was worried about whether or not I would even graduate from my master’s program (I did, by the way), about whether I had the strength to keep going (I did), and whether what I was doing even mattered to me anymore (it still does to this day).

Many, many months followed, and I spent many of them in the trenches of heartbreak. I missed out on a lot. I cried at my pinning ceremony. I wanted to hide at graduation… MY graduation, and what should have been a celebration of completing my master’s degree which I worked so hard for. On the night that I presented my thesis, I found out my ex was seeing someone, and I spent the night locked in my apartment, crying. I didn’t enjoy my trip to Tahoe in August because I was so stuck in my head. It was hard. I could write paragraphs and paragraphs about the types of thoughts and emotions that I had which lasted many months after the initial break-up. Trust me, there were a lot of them. For months I also did things that brought me back three steps, when I had barely even moved one ahead. I reached for people and things I should not have. I constantly ripped off the band-aid, postponed my healing, and brought myself to a place where I wondered if I’d ever get past it… but I did, and you can too.

I also did a lot of things right, which helped me on my journey to healing. Here are some of the many important things I learned:

THE MOST IMPORTANT THINGS I LEARNED:

1. “When someone shows you who they are the first time, believe them.”
Believe that quote. Along with this, trust yourself, and learn to listen to your own intuition. If you get a strong feeling that there is something wrong with you, your body, or with someone else, it probably is. The signs that something was wrong with my relationship and that my ex was checking out of it were there long before I actually started paying attention. The break-up forced me to examine how I listen to myself, and how I pay attention to others around me.

2. If you’re going through something difficult, keep going.
I promise, it will get easier, with time. In the mean time however, focus on YOU, and on allowing yourself grace. Break-ups are NOT easy. My break-up happened during my last semester of graduate school, and sometimes it caused me to react or act in ways I shouldn’t have, which led to fall-outs between me and several friends and acquaintances. However, I cannot stress enough that the people who are meant to be in your life will be there through it. Focus on yourself and keeping the faith above all else. Don’t worry about making people happy, don’t worry about people’s expectations and thoughts about you… if there is a time to be selfish, this is it.

3. Change up your routine.
After you experience a break-up or other devastating event, it can be difficult to get back into the same routine. Find a way to change up your routine. I couldn’t listen to the radio for several months because every time I did, I found myself in tears because every song reminded me of what I was going through. So instead, I decided listening to podcasts that inspired me, such as those from church. While I was still in Sacramento, I couldn’t go to my favorite sushi restaurant because it’s where WE used to go. So, I started trying new foods! I tried poke for the first time and loved it. I found I even had trouble hanging out with people that I associated with memories with my ex. So, I reached out to old friends and found ways to meet new people. I tried BumbleBFF and went to social gatherings that pushed me out of my comfort zone but allowed me to meet new people. I met one of my best friends because I wasn’t afraid to reach out!

4. The only certain thing in life is change.
I used to be the most Type A, anxious, anal-retentive person when I was with my ex. When we broke up, literally everything was suddenly out of my control… the only choice I had was to go with the flow, and to embrace change for what it was, whether I liked it or not. Some people are only meant to be in your life for a chapter, not the entire book. However, that doesn’t take away from the role that they play in your story, and sometimes their role sets the stage for what you are really meant for. I was very lucky to be in such a healthy relationship, even if it didn’t last forever. My previous relationship inspired me in so many ways… for a long time, my ex inspired me to be a better person, and he showed me that I was meant for better things than what I was allowing myself at the time he met me. Sometimes it takes someone outside of yourself to do that, and he showed me. However, my personal accomplishments? Those were all me. Not him.

5. Nothing can speed up the healing process.
You really just need to ride it out. There are definitely things that help and hurt it though. Some of the things that helped me were going to therapy, going to church and having faith in something bigger than myself (for me this is God), talking to people I cared about, journaling, reading non-fiction, taking walks, going on hikes, mindfulness, taking things moment by moment, and finding joy in small things such as how gorgeous flowers look when they are blooming in the Spring. I tried hard to do these things and to push myself even when life was really hard. Things that I guarantee you will likely only hurt you: self-destructive behaviors, drugs/alcohol/mind-altering substances, unsafe/unfamiliar sex, and internalizing anger without finding a way to channel it.

6. Breaking no contact really just stunts your healing process.
Let the dust settle, grieve, and then maybe in the future you can be friends (although highly doubtful). However, in order for there to be any chance of that happening, you both need to heal first.

7. Speaking of grief, it is completely natural.
In fact, it is necessary. Losses, in any shape or form, should be grieved. It is a process that cannot be rushed or interrupted by anyone, including you. Trust the process, and ride it out. Some days the waves will be far at sea, others they will be crashing over you. Embrace what you feel, whatever it is… in the moments when your heart feels the most broken, remind yourself it is because you loved someone, and you loved them deeply. Embrace and celebrate the vulnerability and rawness of that. Also, you may be someone who will try to run from grief as much as you can, but you’ll never outrun it. It will follow you until you find a way to face it.

8. Timing is a funny, funny thing.
I was previously so upset that my break-up happened in the middle of my last semester of grad school, but now I’m thankful it was at a time when I could still make a decision for me, instead of based on an “us”. I decided to move home, and I was able to do that since I hadn’t applied for jobs near where my ex lived yet.

Stay tuned for pt. 2, more things I learned about heartbreak, in a future post!

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