Here you are. Ouchy, I know. You’re navigating the breakup as best as you can but dang– this is hard. I know, I’ve been there.
That experience informs my work as a relationship coach, and gives me some tips and tricks that I now pass on to you. I hope these help.
One day at a time. One year at a time.
Time will pass regardless. Focus on what you need to do today, tomorrow and the rest of your life will come in time. Take it one step at a time and know that you can only take on what is in front of you. There is no “right time” or “right choice”. There is no perfect timeline for healing after a relationship. You can’t fuck this up. Take a deep breath. You know what you need. This time is for you.
Don’t drink and text.
They say drunk words are sober feelings. I really don’t agree. Drunk words are insecure feelings. Drunk words are us at our highest or lowest. Right now, I’m guessing that sending either of those things to your ex is not going to serve you. If you are going to send a message or call him, do it sober.
Don’t send anything immediately or after the sun has gone down.
If Sober You feels like she neeeeeeeds to send the ex a text, wait for a day and for daytime to review a text prior to sending. Keep it in your notes and not in the text app so you can’t accidentally (or not so accidentally) press send.
Then wait. Wait for at least 24 hours AND wait for when the sun is up. Waiting for a day and for daytime to send a message makes sure that the message reflects what is true for you and not just a passing emotion.
From personal experience I know when the sun is up, I feel way more clear-headed, optimistic and positive. If you wait, you probably won’t send that text. And honestly, you probably shouldn’t send it.
Move your body.
Give your brain the happy chemicals and move your body! It’s even better if you can go outside and get sunlight while you are at it. It’s no secret that endorphins are the bomb-dot-com. Plus, then you can indulge in the ice cream without giving yourself a hard time (not that you should give yourself a hard time, regardless).
Go easy. You may be feeling emotionally spent and like your ability to push yourself is spent. So don’t. You just want the positive effects; you do not need to be setting personal bests. Go easy, be gentle with yourself, but do move.
Don’t make big decisions.
You are likely feeling shell shocked right now. Your brain is processing the loss of the person you were in a relationship with, plus any other related loss. You may have lost relationships with friends and extended family. You may be moving out of a shared living space, or negotiating custody of shared pets and houseplants. You’ve got enough on your plate. Big decisions that do not HAVE to be handled right now can wait for the next two to four weeks. The world will not end.
Unfriend or Unfollow
You knew this one was coming. Unfollow. Unfriend. You do not need this person popping up in your newsfeed. Your job is to focus on you. Feel the grief, but don’t be a masochist about it. Unfollow him.
Related to this, don’t go and check on their profile to see what they are up to. It really, really won’t help. If that seems too hard for you right now, set a date when you can. This is a lot like running. It feels undoable if you set out to just run for as long as you can, but setting a goal means there’s an end in sight and you can pace yourself. I look ahead when I feel like stopping, pick a driveway or tree as a landmark and tell myself I can walk when I get there. A lot of times, I can keep going even after I reach my goal. For post-breakup, a goal could be to only allow yourself to check his profile three months after the relationship ended. If that seems like an insane amount of time, try one month. With an end in sight, you may have a little more bargaining power with your broken heart. Maybe when the time comes, you won’t be as tempted.
I can almost guarantee that checking his profile won’t help, because I’ve done it and it didn’t help.
Archive or delete photos.
I know that this can be hard, especially if this was a long relationship, but having photos of this person on your phone where they can easily ambush you will not help your journey. (And if they are on the walls, holy cow, take those down!) For me, deleting felt too massive and like I was pretending the past didn’t happen, so I archived the pictures of him that were on my Instagram.
In my photos app on my phone, I’ve tried a couple different things. I’ve uploaded my favorites to a Google Drive folder and deleted them off the device. That felt like the right balance between protecting myself and deleting my past. Do what you can. If you cannot fully delete the photos now, you can in the future. At least get them out of your immediate vicinity.
After an earlier, and very different relationship (hello gaslighting and emotional manipulation!) I wanted to drop a nuclear bomb on anything that reminded me of the person so I trashed my phone and bought a new one. I even switched from Android to iPhone so that everything about my phone was different. To this day (7ish years later) I still get a little shudder when I hear that specific Android text tone.
Spend time with friends and family.
Spend time with the people that love you. You are not alone. There are people who care about you and see the best in you. You will be okay. Establish boundaries on how much your friends and family can weigh in on the break up or what you feel comfortable talking about, but it is important to be around the people who are in your corner.
Ask an understanding friend to be your “sponsor”.
This is inspired by Alcoholics Anonymous. When a member is having a weak moment and is thinking about pouring a drink, they call their sponsor for support. Their sponsor can talk them down off that metaphorical ledge. Same can apply here. Ask a friend that you feel would be a good fit if they can be your breakup sponsor. I have used this plenty of times with an absolute goddess-saint-larger-than-life-amazing-human (you know who you are, THANK YOU) and it has helped so much.
Ask what the lesson is?
Let this question sit with you. You may not have an answer yet. If you do have an answer, it may change over time. Regardless of the answer, it helps to look at the bigger picture.
Remember, you’ve been through hard times before. You got through those, and you’ll get through this. Tune in to you, because you know what you need; all you need to do is listen.