You can learn valuable lessons about yourself from surviving a big breakup. Regardless of whether you initiated the split or had your heart handed back to you, the fact is that the relationship was no longer working. Breakups are painful and big breakup hurt most of all. However, once you are free from the pain you are also free to be the best you’ve ever been. Every breakup leaves its mark. You are no longer the same person you were when you entered the relationship. The breakup forces you to look at yourself with a critical eye and ask some life-altering questions such as, “What do I truly want?” and “What really makes me happy?”
You might have been with your ex for months, years or even decades. You may have exchanged vows, bought a home and had children. Alternatively, you might only have been dating for months but you felt as if you had found the one. If you feel as if this is the big breakup, it is. But remember– you will survive and emerge stronger than you might have thought possible. So, congratulations, in advance, on surviving a big breakup! One day soon, your heart will mend, your ex will be a part of your past and you’ll be even more fabulous.
- Don’t have sex with your ex. Even if you want to. Even if you think it’s harmless and just a little fun. If you are sleeping with your ex, you can’t move on.
- Curtail all contact with Mr. Delete his phone number from your cell, stop all instant and text messaging, and screen his calls. You might wonder if it is possible to have a friendly relationship with your ex. The answer is, probably not. Remove him from your life, work on getting over him and then move on.
- Let the messages go. Delete the old messages and wait for someone better to call.
- Don’t take that call. Do not listen to old voicemail messages from your ex. Be resolute and refer to Breakup Rule #2 if he tries to contact you.
If you can’t avoid contact with your ex, establish boundaries and limit your discussions to necessary topics, such as childcare or finances. If you were living together at the time of the big breakup, move out as soon as possible. Pack and move when your ex isn’t home. If he’s doing the moving, allow him the same courtesy and stay out of the way.
Surviving A Big Breakup
In fact, breakups are like band aids. The only way to make a clean break is to rip them off quickly. Sure, it will hurt. If you stick around to give it just one more chance, though, you’re dragging out the inevitable and prolonging the pain. Once you are on your own again, exorcise your ex by–
- Disposing of any and all of his stuff. Give it away, donate it or throw it in the trash, but do not hang on to old photos, his favorite coffee mug or his aftershave.
- Buy some sage at your local New Age store and cleanse your home by smudging.
- Feng Shui your place to suit yourself. If you always wanted to put the couch under the windows, now is the time to do it.
- Buy a few new items that make you happy, like a pretty print or a girly bedspread.
- Spread out and take over the entire bed. There’s no your side or his side any longer.
The Big Breakup Spectrum
Big breakups resemble natural disasters. The earthquake breakup starts with a few rumbles and then, BOOM; he pulls your life out from under you. With the avalanche breakup, you’re cruising along and the next thing you know, up is down and down is up. The tornado breakup builds within both of you until the crescendo tears everything apart.
Just as there are all kinds of breakups, there are different ways to handle those first, terrible days. Here are just a few post-breakup possibilities–
- The Solitary Slump– Hibernate in your room with a stock of comfort food, chick flicks, sentimental music, your favorite old sweats and several boxes of tissues.
- The Shopping Slump– Feel better immediately by buying some new clothes and accessories, treating yourself to a manicure or massage and then hitting the shoe stores.
- The Escapist Slump– Get away from home and your memories of him by spending a few days at a spa, vacation home or some warm, lovely spot on the beach.
- The Fetal Position Slump– No one takes care of you like Mom, so how about a visit home for a few days?
- The Scary Slump– Are you so angry you can’t think of anything else? Vent by taking a martial arts class, buying a voodoo doll or shredding every picture taken with your ex.
- The Pity Party Slump– Don’t fight it, wallow in it. Feel sorry for yourself in a big way. Cry over every picture and watch The Way We Were for the millionth time.
The old saying goes, “Misery loves company.” But right after the big breakup, misery needs company, the company of your boo-hoo crew that is. Your boo-hoo crew consists of your closest, most reliable and extremely patient BFFs. These are the girls who will help you through even the darkest, most desperate times as you mourn the loss of your ex.
On The Rebound
You might be indulging in fantasies of revenge, or staying up into the wee hours mourning the loss of your mutual friends or the relationship you developed with his mother. These feelings are natural. After all, it’s hard to handle the big breakup and the baggage that accompanies it. Although you may wish to get through it with dignity and class, everyone falters now and again.
However, rather than invest your energies in a rebound affair, why not invest them where they belong— in you. Make a list of all the things you want to do now that you’re single. Include everything you can think of such as traveling to a new place, getting a cool haircut, learning another language, taking up the piano or enrolling in an adult education course.
Next, make a list of things to do when you’re feeling down or lonely. You’ll be experiencing highs and lows as you travel through your breakup recuperation period. Use this list of activities on the days you’re feeling particularly low. Suggestions include seeing a movie, taking a long drive, getting a pedicure or finally taking that salsa dancing class.
Finally, that day has arrived– you’ve survived a big breakup. The day you don’t wake up thinking of your ex. The day you give yourself permission to be happy and to open your heart to every possibility. And, it’s the day you decide to stop waiting for your knight in shining armor. He doesn’t exist. The only one who can make you happy and give you the life you want is you. The funny thing is, as soon as you’re at your happiest of being who you are on your own, you just might meet Mr. Right.