To say I have led a blissful unaware life would be an understatement. I thought my life had been hard at some points. Boy was I wrong. They say going through a breakup is like losing a loved one and it makes total sense. When you are in a relationship your life is completely different when compared to being single. There is another human being in your space who you share a certain bond with that cannot be found anywhere. Trust me I have looked. Under rocks. In the laundry. Nope. Nada.
It’s only when you go through the motions of a breakup that you can truly understand why people lament about it the way they do. I fought for my relationship as hard as I could. I invested completely up to the edge where it began to compromise my personal life. It became one of my top priorities. I did everything right. Followed every guide, every sane person’s advice and tried my very best to be the perfect girlfriend.
It was not enough. He wasn’t nearly as invested as I was. It was completely a one-sided thing. I knew this from the start. My gut yelled cold-blooded murder at me not to go through with it. Did I listen? Hell-no, and now I’m paying the price.
But you know what? It will pass. Every breakup has several stages that everyone has to go through before fully getting over it. The symptoms I am experiencing are not unique to me at all. Some of the stages can even overlap or happen all at once.
Stage 1: Shock
When your relationship ends nothing can prepare you for it. Nothing. It’s like being suddenly drenched in icy cold water. The initial shock renders you almost speechless and then the shivers set in. I knew for 3 weeks that I was probably going to break up with him and had run through the scenario over and over again in my head, but it did nothing to stop the shock. For one, he did not react the way I had anticipated. That alone threw me off immediately and made the whole thing worse.
I felt horrible. I wanted to turn my car around immediately and beg him to forget everything I had said and just continue as if nothing ever happened. I didn’t. When I got home I climbed into bed and cried for 48 hours. It was one of the worst and miserable times of my life.
The best thing you can do for yourself during this stage is to just embrace it. Don’t suppress the hurt or the crying. You have to let it out otherwise it will just get worse.
Stage 2: Denial
This stage is fun. No, I wanted to burn down the house and dance naked in the moonlight. Anything to take my mind off my current situation. During this stage, it is common to stalk and/or message your new ex. You think if you don’t accept the heartbreak then it didn’t really happen right? WRONG.
I was stupid. I messaged him on new years. He replied and told me he had missed me. He had been drunk. Suddenly the hope flared, and I wanted to sing in joy. He still cared! He wants me back! Bitch he was drunk, calm your ass down.
Not one of my proudest moments. I was lonely. I missed him. I was weak and now I’m paying the price because I put the healing process an entire week back by fostering false hope that he would fight for me and want me back. Bitch, please. You left him for exactly this reason. He proceeded to ignore me again after that little stunt. Did I learn my lesson? Yes.
Lesson? Leave him/her alone. You are only going to make yourself miserable.
Stage 3: Bargaining
The thing is despite everything, despite the facts being smack dab in my face my heart just won’t get with the program. I keep wondering:
“Maybe I didn’t give him enough of a chance.”
“Maybe I didn’t make my point clear enough.”
“Does he miss me as much as I miss him?”
“What if I had been more patient and held out just a little bit longer?”
“Shit. Did I make a mistake?”
Yes, ladies and gentlemen, I have officially entered the bargaining stage of my breakup. Where Nigel (my brain) conveniently only remembers the good and forgets ALLLLLL of the bad things. You know the 101 reasons as to why I broke up with him. No let’s remember his sense of humour, his gorgeous butt, his sarcastic smile, the deep conversations we had late in the night, the kisses, the hugs, the cuddles. Everything good and nothing bad.
I constantly have to remind myself why I broke up with him. I even made a list of reasons why I left him and read it out loud to myself regularly. Does it help? No. Not in the slightest. I still want him back. I still miss him. I still cry. I am still miserable.
You tell yourself that being without him is so intolerable that you can work harder, deal with it, even settle to win them back. Let me get real here. It’s the fear of being alone that’s kicking my ass. Logic has been thrown out the window in favour of irrational feelings.
The trick is not to give in and that is probably the hardest part. I know exactly what will happen if I were to beg him to take me back. His ego will probably get a huge boost, he’ll hold it against me (probably) and everything will go back to the way things were i.e. I invest 100% and he maybe gives it a mediocre 40%… hell it may be even less this time. I’ll be taken for granted again and my trust in him will dwindle even more. It’s a sure-fire recipe for disaster.
The thing you have to remember is that a relationship is like a partnership. If both partners do not work together to build the relationship and invest then it will go belly up. One person can’t possibly carry the entire burden of a relationship. It’s impossible and it only leads to more misery. Don’t lose sight that there were two people in the relationship and two people contributed to its ending.
Stage 4: Anger
I had hoped to be in this stage as soon as possible. Turns out my sadness is more persistent than I thought. This stage usually comes much further down the road. I had recently discovered he had revived his online dating accounts… This should have pissed me off, but it only made me more miserable. He’s moved on while I’m still sitting here and wallowing, but the thing is I shouldn’t be surprised. He was never that into me, so I suppose it makes sense for him to move on faster.
When this stage does finally come around you will know it by the uncontrollable rage that is coursing through your veins.
“How dare he?! How dare he be such a shitty boyfriend! I fucking deserve better! I should have dumped his ass ages ago! What the hell had I been thinking?”
Instead of throwing his Xbox into the pool or filling his car with cement, rather use this anger to do something more constructive. Always wanted a beach bod? Then go to the gym and use the energy to better yourself. If you don’t allow the anger and rage to consume you then you can use it to your advantage.
Stage 5: Relapse
Just when you thought you have finally gotten through the worst of it… BAM! Nostalgia comes whispering its sweet nothings in your ear. You will be sitting staring at a bug on the windowsill or something when it will hit you like a freight train. That nostalgia, that feeling of missing him all over again. This stage is usually the most common one where people get back together and give their relationship one more try. Sometimes it works out but most of the time it doesn’t.
Unfortunately, sometimes you have to go through the cycle of break up and reconciliation a few times with the same person before you can finally let go. This is probably the hardest stage to get through. It only temporarily relieves the symptoms of withdrawal, but it never lasts and the sooner you realise and let go, the better for you and ultimately for them as well.
Stage 6: Acceptance or Sweet, Sweet Surrender
This could happen early or take forever to reach. If it happens early, you may feel like you are surrendering rather than finally accepting that things are over. Not because you want to but because you have to. Either you or your ex have finally realized that it is not meant to be and start to enforce certain boundaries. Boundaries that are necessary to make the break up final because one of you have to otherwise neither will move on.
When the acceptance starts to settle in more deeply then it brings a certain kind of relief like drinking ice water on a hot day when you are parched. You will finally start to feel whole again.
Remember that acceptance is a verb and it requires action. If you are not going to make an active effort to move on and forget them, then you will never escape the cold clutches of misery.
Step 7: Hope
The last step in the process is finally feeling hope that you can love again, that you can find someone that is perfect for you and that your life is your own again. You must move on from the hope that you can save your failed relationship to the hope that you can find Mr./Miss Right. Talk to your friends, write it down, whatever it takes to motivate you to have hope again.
If you love something, let it go. If it comes back, then it is yours. If it doesn’t then it was never meant to be. I am not going to lie to myself. Deep down I still hope that we can reconcile and be together but the only way for that to happen is for him to change his behaviour that caused me to break up with him in the first place and let’s be honest here – it will never happen. Each person has certain traits and behaviours that are hotwired into them meaning that they will never change no matter what and I know for a fact that I would never have been happy with him the way he is now.
In the long run, it would never have worked out and I know logically I made the right choice. Doesn’t make this any easier though. The whole breakup process takes time. It doesn’t help that it is painful or unbearable but like the age-old saying: “Time heals all wounds.” and I will stick to my decision because it was made in my best interest.
The main point is to be patient and to allow yourself to grieve as much as you need to fully heal and move on.