“To get over the past, you first have to accept that the past is over. No matter how many times you revisit it, analyze it, regret it, or sweat it…it’s over.” ~Mandy Hale
Heartbreak. It’s a hard thing to go through. And the pain—it’s real, isn’t it? Like tangible pain. Almost as if that person, throughout the time we were with them, emblazoned our hearts with tiny little hooks and, one by one, they’re being wrenched out. Sounds dramatic, but that’s how it felt to me!
This recent breakup has been the most significant in my life so far. I thought I was going to spend the rest of my life with this person. The harsh reality of that no longer being the case can be a lot to deal with.
But you know time is a healer, right? As a tip, don’t ever say that to anyone who is going through heartbreak! While it’s true, it’s hugely unhelpful.
Taking myself back to that place, I wanted to know how much time? Were we talking days, weeks, months, years? Relying on time isn’t good enough and it’s different for everyone. I wanted to feel better, even just a tiny bit better, right then.
I thought I would share a few of the things I did in these first and very raw stages of heartbreak to lessen the pain a little. I really hope they might help you if you’re going through this right now.
Allow yourself some time to cry and hibernate at home if this is what you are drawn to do. For the first day or two, don’t worry about what you think you should do or what people tell you to do. You have to do what you need to do.
Reach out to someone.
You may have spent a few days on your own, so you need to step out of your own thoughts and spend time with someone who is close to you and who you trust. My own thoughts were my own worst enemy in that time of heartbreak.
You might want to talk about the situation, which is good, but try not to vent so much that you conjure up more anger (and don’t spend time with someone who will encourage this either).
I made this error at first, which resulted in more wasted mascara and feeling like I’d taken three steps back. So then I just let go and spent time with my mum and a couple of female friends who really looked after me, who I felt completely at ease with and didn’t have to put on a front for. It can be a real comfort to be around a nurturing person.
Delete your ex from your social media accounts.
The first thing I did was remove him from my Facebook friend list. Seems silly, but that in itself was a wrench. But I knew that having the temptation to look at what he was doing, who he was with, and then making assumptions about what was going on in his life would only exacerbate the pain and do nothing to heal the heartbreak.
I also think that if the relationship ended particularly badly and there isn’t any valid reason to maintain contact (and really be honest with yourself on that one), delete their number so you won’t be tempted to text them. You will notice that after each day of no contact you will start to feel a little better.
Do something new that you don’t associate with your ex.
Reclaim your life as an individual. Often, what makes heartbreak so sad is that you feel a huge void. So start to create new memories to mark this new chapter, as it’s a great way to speed up the process of moving on.
It can be anything, but make it something for you. Join a dance class, a course, or a sports group maybe—something that ideally involves other people too, as fresh social interactions and making friends is a great way to begin to get over heartbreak.
Commit to not looking at old photos, letters, or texts or listening to songs that remind you of your ex for one month.
I took off any songs on my iTunes that reminded me of him because I knew that hearing them so soon would have me feeling really low. I still actually haven’t put them back on. Eventually, these things may form fond memories but right now, dwelling on them will make the sadness and pain even more intense.
By setting an initial time frame of one month, you can be comforted by knowing you’re not saying goodbye to them forever (you might decide you want to later down the line but you can think about that then). You’re just choosing to not put yourself though more pain by engaging with them right now.
Watch a funny film (a personal favourite of mine is Grown Ups), go and see some comedy, or go out with your close friends with the sole aim of having fun.
I recommend that you don’t go overboard on alcohol, as that only seems to heighten any emotion I’m feeling at the time, and I don’t always make the best decisions in light of that. But that is personal to everyone.
The aim is to go out and do whatever you think will make you laugh or at the very least smile, and be around people who make you feel good, lift you up, and show you that things will get better.
Laughing is brilliant for an immediate shift in feeling, so do anything you can to laugh as much as possible!
Learn and let go.
If you’ve spent some time doing all the above, you’ll hopefully feel a little better and have a renewed sense of hope and perspective. You might even be ready to embrace this new chapter.
This reminds me of that film 500 Days Of Summer, where the main character Tom starts sketching skylines on his wall. He’s broken through that initial pain of heartbreak and is spurred to channel the emotion in the direction of his passion for architecture.
Think about all the things you want to do and achieve. Consider how you can use this experience as a way to move forward. What new habits would you like to introduce into your life, what kind of experiences do you want to have, what kinds of people would you like to meet?
It’s still going to be tough, for a while, but that’s okay. Heartbreak is a crippling thing to go through but it’s also an amazing trigger for unleashing raw emotion and creativity that can be channeled in a positive way.
It’s put me on a path of self-discovery, and although I have felt vulnerable, it’s forced me to look at things about myself that the relationship was perhaps concealing.
Also, try your very best to let go of any anger, as it only makes you cling on tighter to that painful emotion. Forgiveness really is the key to moving on.
Heartbreak is awful, there’s no doubt about it. All of these ideas are really just suggestions of things that have helped make my own journey that little bit easier.
There’s no quick fix, but the more you start to gently push yourself in new directions every day, the more clarity you will start to get on the situation.
I don’t think there can be any definitive conclusion on how to cope with heartbreak. Just that with every small step you take forwards, each time you look back, it won’t be quite so painful.
Couple back to back image via Shutterstock