A few readers have reached out over time to ask how I navigated through a broken heart after a tough breakup. There is nothing harder and sadder than being broken hearted, and despite everyone — and I mean everyone — being able to relate to it, there is something so isolating about being in the midst of it, especially as your friends and family carry on with their lives around you. I remember after a particularly hard break up in college, going outside with my mom to sit on a park bench. It was a cool day in June, and just hours before, my boyfriend had dumped me out of the complete blue. His reasons were vague and unexpected; he didn’t love me anymore, he kept saying, over and over, as if repeating it would help me understand. As my mom and I sat in the sunlight, I remember being floored — my world was crumbling around me, but everyone else was going about their day. There was a person eating a poppyseed bagel, there was someone walking their dog, there was someone else in a hurry. All I could think was, look how they’re living their lives as if everything is okay! It was shocking.
Every breakup is different, and the feelings and emotions can vary depending on the situation. Even so, there is one piece of advice that I think always applies, and that is to trust.
Trust the reasons why the relationship ended.
Trust that time will slowly but surely make things better.
Trust your truest version of yourself, and trust that someone will love that version, exactly as it is.
Trust trust trust.
And do what you have to do to patch together your heart, bit by bit. After the breakup, I set ten reminders on my phone that went off throughout the day. At 10am my phone chimed, “Be kind and patient to yourself.” At noon my phone said, “Fuck him Fuck him Fuck him.” It sounds a little cooky, but it helped, and then one day my phone went off, and I realized I could turn that alarm off, that I didn’t need that reminder anymore. It felt like a triumph. Applaud yourself for those triumphs — for taking a shower, for choosing to turn off a sad song that will make you cry, for making yourself dinner, for unfollowing him on Instagram.
Also — give yourself the time and space to mourn the relationship. One of the hardest parts of a breakup for me isn’t so much the breakup itself (although that is of course still shitty), but realizing that the dreams I had of us together are crashing down. To say goodbye to those narratives, so specific to the relationship you shared, is heartbreaking. Give yourself time to grieve them, to let them each go.
This is a weird analogy, but being heart broken has always reminded me of feeling very, very nauseous. The whole time you’re thinking, anything but this, and all you can do is ride it out. If you’re in the thick of it, I send you the biggest hug. You are riding it out, and we are all rooting for you. XOXO
“You cannot convince people to love you. This is an absolute rule. No one will ever give you love because you want him or her to give it. Real love moves freely in both directions. Don’t waste your time on anything else.” — Cheryl Strayed
Photo by Cindy Loughridge.