Have you ever had a dream which you feel like you can’t wake up from? Well, that is exactly what it feels like when nostalgia shocks your brain after a breakup. Long before the healing process begins, you only remember the good times after the heartache has settled in – or your iPhone decides to remind you about all the years you spent together with that special someone by putting together a surprise anniversary video. Too bad Siri didn’t get the breakup memo.
Unfortunately, all those weeks you tried to force yourself not to think of your ex, the cute and annoying things they did, and the rollercoaster of emotions you had buried under a few bottles of Merlot, are wasted when the memories come rushing back like an unannounced tsunami.
I get it, the feels suck at this moment. I mean puppy videos only make you partially happy and when you’re done watching, you feel like the gaping hole in your chest just became a crater. Maybe it’s because you were used to sharing every detail of your day with that person and it reminds you that you’re alone for the first time in years. Alone with yourself. With no one to lean on other than yourself and God. If you believe in God(s), that is. If not, you are on your own honey boo boo child.
Relax, I’m joking. You are NOT alone. You have resources! For example, friends, family, cuddles from your pets, and therapy can help you through this time. You can even get yourself a therapy dog to help you cope with tough emotions. If you don’t have this, I highly recommend the Reclaim. Piece X Piece journal by Set in Soul.
Anyways, at 24 years old I found myself breaking away from my boyfriend of 4ish years. We were on and off, but he was also my best friend for seven years. We had been through long-distance dating, a deployment, being an interracial couple (it may be 2019 but sometimes people made us feel like it was 1965), and everything in between college and adulting.
Back then I was a planner, and I thought I had a plan. A plan to marry him, become his wife, & start a family with him in time. I dreamed of the days where he would be the first person I saw in the morning and the last person I saw before I went to bed – but it wasn’t meant to be. As amazing as he was, he had some things he needed to deal with (don’t we all?), but he wasn’t ready to do what was necessary until he lost me.
Towards the end of the relationship, I realized I couldn’t keep on pouring so much of myself into someone who wasn’t ready to deal with what he had to deal with for himself. He was my soulmate, but I knew I had to step away for my own well being. It was one of the hardest things I had to do, but God blessed me with grace, mercy, and peace. Don’t get me wrong, it hurt a lot but you learn to grow from the pain (Thanks Ari?).
Fast forward 11 months, I am single and I must say life has been great. Well, let’s be real, outside of being on an emotional rollercoaster the first three months – it was deeply introspective. Sometimes a little bit too deep for my liking. But hey, being honest with yourself is necessary for healing and growth. During the time I’ve had to myself, I started to realize that maybe it wasn’t only my ex who needed time to find himself and some one-on-one time with God.
I did too.
My healing started when I took time to grieve the death of the relationship, challenged myself to be comfortable with being alone (no rebounds!), learned to deal with the thoughts of who would want to love me after being in such a serious relationship (at one point I didn’t even want to love me), and literally forced myself to sit in front of the mirror, confront my insecurities and stitch myself back together piece by piece.
I guess you can say I was on my “eat, pray, self-love” phase. Even though at times I found myself trying to avoid the sadness and depression brought on by a broken heart, the inevitable finally hit me, and it hit me deep. I realized I had been running on empty and I was emotionally and physically drained from the relationship, the breakup, and the loss of myself. Trust me when I say they struggle was real. There were plenty of days where I felt like I was barely getting by.
The process of healing and working on loving yourself is hard. It’s still something I am working on today. I had plenty of nights where I would cry myself to sleep after watching a movie we had seen together. I would get anxiety just thinking of having to tell all the “Aunties” and extended family I’m single and answer their questions. Don’t get me started about the day which would have been our 5-year anniversary.
Basically, I was an anxiety-riddled-depressed-mess going through what felt like a mid-life crisis.
But after disciplining myself like I’ve never done before and sorting through my emotions, I began to have clarity and understand that the growing pains I went through were necessary for my progress. Even though I didn’t always feel like I was progressing. In all honesty, it took every fiber of my being to force myself to get to a place where Eeyore was no longer my daily spirit animal.
I was lucky to have some of my closest friends and loved ones around me to support me and shower me with love and encouragement during this time of healing, introspection, and reflection.
I realized my ex was my first true love and he taught me pain, love, patience, and then some and for that I am thankful (again, thanks Ari?).
He made me realize the importance of slowing down, loving unconditionally, and that relationships take more than love to function at a healthy level. He has a heart of gold and some amazing qualities but I negotiated my ‘non-negotiables’ for him. The sense of self-betrayal, no matter how much I told myself it was worth it, always seemed to creep its claws back into my heart. I guess this is me taking responsibility for my actions (or lack thereof) since it is the one thing that I can control.
I still have moments where I think of the good and bad times we had, and I will never not pray for him or send him good vibes. I want him to be happy and successful in life even if it means he ends up with someone else. I’m genuinely grateful for our time together, I learned so much from those experiences and that knowledge is something I would never trade away.
When I miss the companionship or the simple things we would do I remind myself he is in God’s hands, on his journey, and no longer my responsibility to worry about like I used too (military girlfriends/wives you know what I’m talking about).
Part of me still wishes I didn’t have to go through the pain and hurt, but it made me more assertive and forced me to trust myself in ways I never did before. I no longer have a tolerance for boys who are not emotionally mature or working on self-awareness.
Also, I no longer accept feeling the need to be someone’s therapist when in a relationship. You can provide someone you care about with resources, but it is really up to them if they want to better themselves. And if they aren’t ready to do what’s necessary, then they are not ready. Remember, it’s not your job to fix someone.
[Read More: Zainab Khan Celebrates the Diversity of Love in a Visual Series Featuring Couples in the United Kingdom]
Anyways, the moral of this article is the next time you find yourself stuck between a breakup, a bottle of Merlot, and feel like your heart is breaking into a million pieces, again and again, remind yourself why you left. Remind yourself that you are worth healing and happiness and that the emotional roller coaster you are on is only temporary. Don’t forget to give yourself a high five and a pat on the back and be grateful for all the lessons you learned.
Because you did it! You took a leap of faith, made yourself a priority, and began your first steps towards rediscovering who you are outside of the relationship.
Yes, it can be miserable at times and the process of healing is unique to each individual. It’s not always fun, it takes discipline, and an infinite amount of self-love to get through the heartbreak. But eventually, you will notice that the gut-wrenching pain will subside to an ache which then disappears.
Before you know it, you will be living your best life and giving yourself permission to enjoy being present with your loved ones and friends, finally accomplish your 2019 New Year’s goals, even go out on a friendly date (gasp!), and take long moments to be kind to yourself and find peace in being perfectly imperfect during this time of healing. And, when that day comes, you will truly understand the meaning of having a love lost and gained.