Wanna heal from a break-up? Change your perspective
At 43, I feel as if I’ve put the cat to shame, because this derby girl is working on her 10thor possibly 11thlife. Each phase of my life has provided struggles. It wasn’t that I lost my mom at 25, struggled with bi-polar disorder or checked into rehab – it was after a break-up. I always found myself in a motionless state where I just couldn’t get my shit together. Every desert spot you camped together, every alleyway you ever kissed, the terrible Gelato you both decided was the worst you had ever had. These minor memories seem to hold more emotional importance than the threat of a nuclear shut-down.
I haven’t been able to chew cinnamon gum in over 25 years. It’s not because I’m still mourning my high school boyfriend who was addicted to Big Red. It’s because it reminds of a time when I spent many lonely nights feeling rejected and wondering if they’ll ever call again. Then there’s the dreadful packing of things and tokens left behind. You might gracefully pack their [HIS] photos, jewelry they [HE] gave you and the lonely sock left behind, gently pour gasoline over the box and watch the corners curl in while you imagine your next entry into The Burning Man Festival. Then with dignity, you play your small violin concerto and honorably throw yourself under the pity party bus.
Of course, don’t forget your pity party bus has friends and family aboard asking, “What happened? I thought you guys were so happy?” Make sure you pick your comforting tribe wisely. The most supportive friends should be the ones who can give you compassion, hugs and most importantly encourage the time it takes you to heal. Many people will give you a time frame on how long it should take you to leave Netflix and finish the final chapter to your romantic drama. There is even a statistic that has been suggested it takes half the time of the span of a relationship to heal. For instance, it should take me 1 ½ years to heal from my current break-up.
Sounds like a year of hell, but I’ve done harder years before and at earlier ages. The most important things a friend often reminds me of is that “this too shall pass” and “time truly does heal all wounds,” “God doesn’t give you anything you can’t handle.” When a friend holds me in a comforting embrace as they whisper these words of encouragement, I cannot tell you how much I appreciate—the fact that I am close enough to strangle them.
During the stage of anger and grief, the last thing I am receptive to hearing is that the sun will again rise to offer its warmth to nourish the earth and offer light to those who have recently been destroyed by an unfaithful bastard. I have now found that my mother’s advice to put sticky notes with small reminders of all the shitty things they did to you (now that you’re eligible for the next Hoarders episode) sprinkled about your house and help you move on instead of obsess about the mistake you might have made.
If you really want to do the work to heal and process the grief of a break-up, you must be willing to do the work, be patient and be willing to let go. Eventually you must accept this person is no longer in your life. By increasing yourself-worth, accepting the lessons you learned and re-wiring your old negative thoughts are the only ways to stock the shelter once the bomb drops. So many times, we lose ourselves in our partner and become entangled in their (female and male) identity. We slowly drop the activities we loved and prioritize our partner’s activities and availability over our own. Slowly you feel guilty about asking for what you need, and if you’re cuddling up to a narcissist– you’re really fucked. In the worst scenario, you accommodate your partner’s needs so much, you start to feel guilty for even having needs at all.
Whether you’ve recently struggled with heartbreak or you’ve been lucky enough to avoid it so far—always remember– you deserve to be treasured. Your needs and wants matter. You matter. So burn out those Sharpie Markers and cover that kitchen with those “they were shitty because…” post-it-notes. The faster you value those sticky notes—the faster you can re-write your love story. This time, focus on your courageous battle to transformation. What will you do to preserve your worth and set better boundaries next time. It takes time and courage to set with your fear of being alone. After all, the true victor isn’t the one who wins the gunfight. It is the one who accepts his odds…and chooses the Colt .45. For the love of God and yourself, don’t be a Three Amigo. Be Clint Eastwood.