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November 27, 2018 at 7:20 pm #261513WilliamParticipant
I’ve followed some of your posts on the other thread as they’ve been a great help in relating to my own recent experience, so thought i’d post for the first time on these forums here as maybe my experience might also be of reciprocal use!
In August my girlfriend of 3 years (and friend of 14 years) broke up with me soon after we moved abroad together, which was by far the toughest thing that’s ever happened to me. I’ve struggled with a state of near constant anxiety in my mind and body, which I’d never felt before – partly because I viewed her as the one i would be with for the rest of my life, and partly due to being away from a good support network and having to start life again in a new city (as an introvert, this is pretty daunting…). I’m not sure my story has a happy ending yet – I’ve moved to another city in Europe to be closer to some good friends of mine and away from direct contact with her – but a few things have helped me readjust my state of mind from one of complete hopelessness to one where I am starting to see the small crack of light at the end of the tunnel:
– Firstly, I’ve started to write my feelings down on paper or on the computer. These forums are one way of doing this, but articulating thoughts as they come to you feels like a useful way of beginning to comprehend and make sense of how you’re feeling. Having a day-to-day narrative that you can refer back to when your head is full of hundreds of conflicting ideas and thoughts can take some of the weight off your mind. You can also read them back to compare weeks or months later, and more often than not, I’m finding that I am making small amounts of progress and things aren’t as sad and hopeless as they once were at the beginning of the breakup.
– Secondly, I wrote down all of the bad things about our relationship. I’ve come to realise that although it doesn’t take away the sadness of the relationship ending, it does help me realise that the break up was not entirely my fault, and that so many day-to-day actions, words or attitudes on both of our parts over an extended period of time that contributed to the ending of it. Likewise, it is helping me remember that even though I have so much good to say about her, there is no such thing as the ‘perfect’ person for you. Relationships take time, loads of effort and two willing people to commit to working out problems or challenges on a long term basis.
– Remember your contributions to the relationship, both positive and negative. Tackling these head on is quite daunting and emotional, but only once you’ve learnt from them can you stop dwelling on things that happened in the past. I’m still in this process but having written them down I feel more confident that my own negative actions or shortcomings won’t define me in future.
– Meditation. Can’t say I’ve cracked this one yet but it does help release some of the anxiety especially when I’m feeling panic-y. I feel that committing to it regularly is one small way to help stay positive and focussed on enjoying the small things in day to day life.
– Reading blogs and articles about anxiety. Whenever I’m feeling anxious I know I can turn to a few of these that help me remember I’m not alone and that it is just symptomatic of the irrational, emotional side of my brain overwhelming the logical, rational side of it. It does not define me and I know that I can also be relaxed, calm and happy – often in the same day.
– Reading about other people’s experiences has been really useful too. Although the logical side of my brain knows that others have gone through the same, actually relating my experience to other people’s relationship woes has helped me to see a ‘bigger picture’ somewhat.
– Proper exercise, i.e running. Feels bloody awful mentally preparing myself to do it in Winter but I’ve usually found I have a subtle mood boost in the day after I’ve done a 30 minute run.
– Pouring your attention into something you love. For me I realised that my ‘project’ of the last few years, outside of my job had been simply fully immersing myself in the relationship. This was especially the case in the past year where we’d argue a lot which always disrupted the flow of every day life. I found I was using all my mental energy trying to save a relationship which eventually ended anyway. I’m quite a creative person and for me I’ve been trying to pursue a new creative project. I just have ideas at this stage, but it already feels good to confront what I’ve been missing and own up to the fact that I’ve been neglecting my own personal hopes and desires for the future outside of a romantic relationship. What this ‘project’ is will differ from person to person but for me it’s a creative hobby where I feel most fulfilled.
– Communication with friends or family. I feel like I’ve bored my family to death over the past few months, especially in August-October when I would call them nearly every day, but just having someone to talk to about it is really useful, in the same way that writing things down is a cathartic and it can help make sense of your own thoughts better. Needless to say they’ll all be getting better-than-average Christmas presents this year.
– No contact. I find the longer I don’t speak to her the less I feel like I ‘need’ to get back with her, as if things would work out differently if we gave things another try. Every time those feelings are brought back to the surface, it delays me being able to reshape my own narrative (a narrative that existed without her in my life before, and one that will exist without her in my life in future…)
I’m not sure how useful any of that is for your own situation. I think the more you worry about ‘not being able to get over’ them in the future, the less time you spend in the present where your mental energy can be put to better use. It’s a tricky one to achieve, when the world you know feels like it’s falling away from you.
All I can say is, those small things combined above have made incremental changes in my mood day by day, and I’m starting to see life in a more positive way again now. I know I’m still very prone to feeling very down and missing her, but even having just a few hours, or days of positive thinking is still a whole load more than in the initial months of the breakup. I mark this as progress. Hopefully this pain, and anxiety of these situations is just making us stronger and more ready to cope with problems in the future.