Most wounds heal naturally, but if your last relationship ended with a near-fatal blow, it might not be enough to erase all your sweetie’s emails or delete that number from your cell. You might need to take stronger action.
“When you’ve split up with someone, you’re not only dealing with a sudden absence in your life but also most likely battling feelings of anger or rejection or both, especially if you’ve been dumped,” explains Anna Jane Grossman, the author of It’s Not Me, It’s You.
“We love someone in part because he or she reflects things we like about ourselves,” she continues. “So it can cause a pretty good bruise if a person who once loved you announces there’s no longer anything likable about you. When you’re in this pit of misery, it can be even more difficult to fight your way out once you consider that there will probably be more breakups in your future. The reality is that the vast majority of relationships don’t last.”
But that doesn’t mean that you should live the rest of your life in the pit of misery or in the tower of bitterness, says Alexandra Delis-Abrams, Ph.D., the author of Attitudes, Beliefs and Choices. She offers these steps for starting your recovery:
Honor your feelings; don’t deny them.
Take stock of what happened and examine your beliefs pertaining to it as well as your own behavior. Be relentlessly truthful.
Own what actually happened. Take responsibility for your reality and use it as a gift to help you learn about you. We know our intention by what we have. So, on some level, it was intention on your part that led to the breakup.
“Once you allow yourself to feel your feelings and move on, you won’t have to try to have your spirits lifted,” Delis-Abrams says. “You will naturally feel more energy.”
That’s what John Jones of Oakland, CA, did after a particularly nasty breakup. “Instead of focusing on “Why does this have to happen to me?” or “At least there’s light at the end of the tunnel,” I’ve begun to look more at “What can I take away from this experience now?” Jones says. “This introspection, often involving walks in the woods combined with having a better support system of friends this time around, has made dealing with some of the particularly painful aspects specific to this breakup more manageable.”
In fact, your social network is a great safety net, says Shari Marx of New York. “The best advice is to reconnect with your girlfriends and to start to love yourself again by looking better,” says Marx.”And meet someone new. Maybe not right away, but even if it’s just a male companion, he will help to fill the void that once was your last relationship.”
That’s the recipe for recovery she used after her last breakup. And it’s a good one, Grossman says: “Having a friend around to keep you company when you’ve just gone through a breakup can make all the difference in the world, so don’t be afraid to ask someone to camp out in your apartment with you for a while. This will ease the pain of waking up to an empty life and an empty house. Make sure your friend knows he or she doesn’t need to become your therapist or nanny,” Grossman adds. “Just being there for you listening to you talk and handing you a tissue now and then will probably be enough”.
Grossman also agrees with getting back in the dating game as soon as you can. “You’re probably not going to find a replacement right away for the person you lost, but getting back out there might remind you that you’re a hot commodity, and there are other datable people out there besides your ex.”
Margot Carmichael Lester, a freelance writer based in North Carolina, has felt the sting of a bad breakup on more than one occasion and lived to tell the tale.