Relationship coach Ruth Purple posted a blog recently about the emotional process we go through following a breakup or divorce. I thought she did a good job of explaining the emotional roller-coaster that often follows such a traumatic event. She presented some good cases; I made some slight modifications based on my own experiences….
“Break(ing) up is very painful no matter how much you justify it, whether you came from a toxic relationship or not you will still go through the process of grieving. You will still experience being woken up with the pain of a broken heart, you will find yourself crying every moment in the middle traffic or in the middle of work, you will undergo crying yourself to sleep or, losing your appetite and drinking until you can’t feel anything. You will feel being paralyzed by the pain and in most times you will get to question why did this happened- a bad, horrible dream.”
True, true, and more true. My advice: do NOT, under any circumstances, turn on the radio. Every song will increase your chances of blubbering. Listen only to talk radio and news about other people and places in much worse condition than you are. You will find this strangely reassuring.
Don’t eat what you don’t want to. I existed on cookies, peanut M&M’s and Kahlua for about 4 months. Not the best diet, but I didn’t die from it, either. Sure, I lost some weight – and I wouldn’t advocate it for the long term – but it made me feel a bit better and as far as I know, I didn’t get rickets, so don’t let people pressure you into eating full meals or foods that don’t interest you. Your appetite will return when it’s ready to.
“Expect that the next few days…(will be) very torturous. You will be in denial, in shock and in insufferable pain. After two to three days…give and allow yourself time to mourn, cry your heart out and let all the pain drain, shout if you must in the privacy of your bedroom.”
I agree with this statement, except change “days” to “weeks.” Anyone who is done with this phase in a matter of days was not really in love. Not with another human being, anyway.
“Then call up friends and family that will support you and not blame you. Stay clear of friends that make you feel bad or sorry or guilty. Keep away from friends who still think of their own welfare and take advantage of your vulnerability and make you feel that you owe them something by helping you in this painful stage.”
She hits the nail on the head with this one. When you’re ready, call your friends. Ask them to keep you company or get you out of the house. But under no circumstances, should you go to the movies. Every movie will be about you and your relationship. Or your mother. Don’t do it. Unless it’s Schindler’s List, skip the movies.
“Run to family and friends who make you experience that you are unconditionally cared for. After a break up surround yourself with family and friends that would embrace you and tell you it’s alright to cry and grieve. Go to work but don’t stress yourself out by it. Finish simple tasks and unwind and appreciate yourself by surviving the day.”
You will cry at work. This is a given. You’ll cry at the gym (that is, if you make it to the gym). You’ll cry at the supermarket. I used my sunglasses for this last one. Who cares what people think? Looking at someone wearing sunglasses indoors is a lot less weird than seeing a lady crying over the apples.
By “simple tasks,” she means showering. Give yourself a pat on the back for every day you manage to shower, get dressed and go to work. This is a huge accomplishment.
“No matter how bad you feel, find a purpose. Getting over a break up takes time and you need to bind yourself with people who understand what you are going through. Getting over a break up is a roller coaster ride of emotional turmoil and you don’t know until when you’ll be in this ride, that’s why it’s important to connect with friends who encourage you to take care of yourself, to help you get through the day. When you are in this aching stage, look out for your wellbeing, this is the best time to put yourself first. Don’t pressure yourself. Take each day at a time.”
I agree with her 100% about this. Give yourself credit for each outing you manage to make it through. If you find yourself uncomfortable with a situation or conversation, get out. It means you’re not ready for it. Don’t worry, you will be, you just aren’t right now. Don’t expect to be the life of the party. No one else expects you to be a ball of laughs, so don’t put that added pressure on yourself. Don’t feel badly if you aren’t that hungry or don’t want to look at so-and-so’s pictures from their weekend in Palm Springs. It’s OK. There will be more dinners and trips and parties in the future.
The big lesson here is: pace yourself. You will be experiencing so many emotions during these first months that each day will be a different show. One step forward, two steps back. If you go out on a limb and it doesn’t feel comfortable, come scurrying back. Don’t judge yourself or your reactions. They are what they are right now. Your friends will understand. They will help you through it. Anyone who doesn’t should get dropped.
Ms. Purple is right when she says there is no way of knowing exactly how long you will be feeling like this. And no, it is not fun. But one thing we can all guarantee is that it is temporary.