Breakups are harder the older you get, and that’s a fact. Not only do you have to endure the heartache that is missing someone who’s been a huge part of your life for a considerable amount of time, but you’re also grieving for all the hopes, dreams and plans that will never come to fruition. (Better put those imagined baby names on the back burner!) You gave your time and youth to someone who you now have to forget, and unfortunately there is no memory eraser. Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind was nothing but a fictional movie, and so our only option is to endure. But you are not alone in the battle.
People will try and offer you kind words, like “she/he wasn’t for you” or “it’s their loss!” and while we are grateful for them trying, it’s simply not helpful and instead makes us feel like even bigger failures for not being able to “just forget about them”.
So here is my get over it plan, according to very adult, very grown up break ups because grown up break ups hurt way further than they do in high school and Hollywood.
- CLEAR OUT.
Take down or throw out, or donate every single thing that reminds you of your ex. This includes (but is not restricted to) photographs. (Do you really need to be reminded every time you open your fridge of that time you took a romantic boat trip, cause you thought it was cute to stick the polaroid to the fridge? No. You don’t. Get rid of it.) Those cards and love notes he/she left you? You don’t need those either, and trust me – your future other half will not appreciate your clinging onto them if they ever accidentally stumble across them stashed in that secret drawer. What about that useless gift they gave you which wasn’t really your style but a cute gesture, nonetheless? Well, now is the time to re-home it! It’s also a good time to get rid of things like their favourite mug that they used to drink their morning coffee out of. It was probably a tacky slogan-ed mug that had no room in your classy, chic apartment anyway. Ruthless? Perhaps, but Marie Kondo would agree. NEXT.
Make some much needed changes. They don’t need to be MAJOR. They can be a series of little changes not only on the outside, but on the inside too. Not all changes need to be outwardly visible to others either – as long as you know. Maybe it’s not so easy to just up and move home for example, but you can rearrange your furniture and buy a few new bits and pieces for you apartment to freshen it up a bit and give yourself a new sense of space. You can do like me, and get a fringe* (or a radical new haircut!) – but this is something I don’t really recommend without considering the implications. Maybe change something else… like your wardrobe? Treat yourself to some new gym clothes to spur you on at the new gym class you’re going to try out. Or to hell with it, buy yourself those new shoes. Preferably expensive and sexy.
The cull is the toughest part of all because it requires you to be ruthless and strong when you might not feel like you are ready to be, and so, you might need some moral support in the form of your best friends and a bottle of Prosecco for good measure.
Go through your social media accounts (or get your friends to if you can’t face it, while you guzzle bubbles) and disentangle from the person you were tangled up in. It’s bad enough that you be confronted with their stories and updates popping up randomly, throwing you off guard when you least expect it, but one day you’re going to see something you really do not need to see, for example a new relationship update or a picture of them coupled up with someone else – probably someone who looks like a model. Out of sight, out of mind. Get every photo of them removed from your social media so that you don’t scroll back in the dead of night with your rose tinted spectacles on, daydreaming about those days when you were ‘so blissfully happy’. You clearly were not, since it ended, and good things don’t end.
WhatsApp is also technically, a form of social media, despite what you may think, and because of this, I strongly suggest you delete you and your exes chat history. Not only does this stop you from checking their online status, letting your mind runaway with ideas of who they may be chatting to, (since it’s clearly not you), but you don’t need to see their profile picture updates or ruminate through past conversations trying to unearth where the conversation went wrong or dissecting every last word in a bid to find hidden meanings. And as for the pictures? You have no use for them any more apart from your own masochistic heart looking through them. Memories can be imbedded in your heart, therefore, they do not need to waste precious memory on your cloud too (which is annoyingly, not free).
Social media is a privilege reserved for people who want to be in your life, and these people are the only ones who should have direct access to your phone line. Unless you have babies or some kind of financial tie to your ex, delete the conversation as well as the phone number to avoid temptation to call them up in the dead of night during a bout of insomnia, which lets face it; sleepless nights are hardly uncommon in the face of heartbreak.
A lot of people would say that this is pretty childish behaviour, and that’s okay. That is an opinion, and we allow opinions in this free world. But it is my personal opinion that out of sight, out of mind is the best thing, and culling exes from your social media is merely self care in the form of self preservation. It’s not about hatred, vilification, or being mean. You are simply preserving your dignity and mental well being, and you can do this in however manner you see fit. If that means unfollowing someone who unfollowed your heart in real life, then so be it.
- CREATE (a list)
Perhaps this is a Virgo thing, but something I have found to be really useful is compiling a list of your exes less admirable traits and things that they did that upset you in the past. (I’m aware that it sounds so mean – but hear me out). When we look back on past relationships, it’s easy to focus on the good times, but what about all those not so good times where they let you down or upset you? Seeing these written down in black and white can be a wake up call, particularly when the list of negatives outweighs the list of positives. I suggest you put it in your purse, ready at the drop of a hat to be read in the event of a weak moment to stop any tears escaping in public, like when you hear a sad song on the bus home or something.
- CHALLENGE (your perpective)
Designer Diane Bon Fürstenberg of fashion empire told journalist Katherine Ormerod on the subject of (Ormerod’s) husband upping and leaving her after eight years with nothing but the shirt on his back a few weeks shy of her 30th birthday, “Darling, he didn’t leave you. He freed you.” This is a perfect example of challenging your perspective on the situation. Everything is what we make of it! Consider the reality versus the dream. Perhaps he liked you to cover up and dress modestly, something you were fully compliant with (as it is a common thing in this side of the world), but imagine the reality of such a request after marriage? Would you ever be allowed to wear what you wanted? Or perhaps there was a jealousy which fed your ego by making you feel wanted, but deep down you knew this had the potential to develop into a more sinister ownership over you which could be problematic in the future. Perhaps you are a saver and he was a spender, causing friction over everything from what you ate to where you spent your free time. Maybe you had different ideas of what a marriage looks like but you put that to one side because you were in love. Possibly the other person had serious and frightening anger issues which maybe weren’t expressed directly towards you, but had the potential to be in the future. In many instances, when we look back, the potential red flags are endless and can really make a person question wether or not there could ever be long term fulfilment in such a relationship? These are merely examples and no reflection of my own relationships, make no mistake. My point is merely this: If someone left you, they merely left the door wide open for you to spend your time, money and soul doing what you want to do and when you want to do it, without having to answer to anyone (within reason of course – this is not a free pass to be a selfish asshole) and that is a liberating thing. You are free to buy what you want, eat what you want, go to bed when you want, go anywhere you want with whomever you want, and you can even live and work wherever you want, too! See?
- CUT (out alcohol)
Alcohol is a depressant and while it might numb you emotionally and help you pass out at night during those times when sleep evades you, it will only render you unconscious rather than sleeping, and I promise you, you’ll be left feeling even worse the following day when you wake up. If you thought the realisation of being alone hit you hard on a normal morning, try waking up alone with a pounding headache after ten gins. Guaranteed the former is more favourable.
Alcohol can also lead to poor judgement causing people to make bad decisions that they might later come to regret. You might think it’s a great idea to call/text your ex or fill in their new partner about how imperfect their new other half (and your now ex) is, but not only is that a TERRIBLE idea, but this hinders your progression as well as damages your integrity. (Do you want your ex and their new beau to laugh about you together? Thought not.) If you think you might succumb to this type of behaviour, then do yourself a favour and find yourself a sober outlet. Like exercise. And if that’s a struggle, then pour every single alcoholic beverage down the sink and call some friends over for an intervention. Which brings us onto number seven!
The gym or any form of moving is a good way to clear you head. There’s not much space for you to think of anything else other than how much your thighs burn whilst you’re running. You might not feel like you have the energy, and that’s okay. But force yourself to get up & move – even if the only place you manage to move to is the shop across the road or the local park for a couple of laps around the duck pond. Guaranteed, the endorphins will kick in and you will feel even just a teeny tiny bit better for getting up and showing up. Plus, no-one actually cares what you look like when you run to the local shop or walk a dog at the park, meaning you’re free to go out with a bed head and sans make up if that feels like too much effort for you that day.
And I’m a firm believer that every little helps. Think of your happiness as a cup. It might have started off empty, but before you know it, all the good things will have filled up that tiny cup, little by little, and eventually your happy cup will be full to the brim. You just have to believe it starting with one baby step at a time. Before you know it, you’ll be running through the finish line. (Metaphorically of course; or literally if you keep up the cardio!).
- CONVERSATIONS (over coffees)
Call up your friends and have some conversations in real life instead of digitally. It’s good to talk and it’s good to hear your friends talk about what is going on with them too. Sometimes we get so caught up in our own problems that we forget that our friends might need us just as much as we need them. So make the effort to see them. It’s a good excuse to vacate the four walls you’re probably confining yourself to, as well as a reason to get up and get dressed. Put on something nice for your friend – they love you but you owe it to them to at least shower and make an effort for them. If you don’t feel like you’re in the best mood for socialising, be honest and tell them how you feel. True friends love you even when we are not always our most loveable and best selves, but that doesn’t mean we are not worthy of a coffee date with them!
This seems obvious but it’s not, so I am going to tell you bluntly, stop watching the fucking Notebook or any other romantic Hollywood crap that sells relationships as a happily ever after, because it’s NOT REALISTIC IN ANY WAY SHAPE OR FORM. Also avoid depressing films like Blue Valentine, which is enough to make even the happiest of people shed a tear, and turn the most romantic of people into a non believer who is dubious about love.
The same goes for tragic playlists. DO NOT LISTEN TO SAD SONGS OF ANY SORT. Do you seriously think that Beyoncé sat watching romantic movies and listening to Roxette and Adele alone in the dark while stuffing her face with a share sized Galaxy bar when Jay Z got caught cheating with Becky and her good hair? No. I assure you she most likely did not, and even if she did, I’m sure that phase lasted a whole five minutes. That woman channelled her pain into her work and put out a multi million dollar album. That showed Becky with the good hair didn’t it? Cause, Becky who? Who even is she? Exactly.
“But I’m not Beyoncé” I hear you cry. It’s okay, I’m more of a Michelle myself rather than a Queen B, but even Michelle would not sit at home pining after someone who walked out on her, so why should you or I?
Your movies and soundtracks of choice should be:
- How To Be Single (’cause now you are and you could do with some suggestions on how to adjust accordingly)
- Bridesmaids (because it’s HILARIOUS)
- I Feel Pretty (be that girl instead of one of those girls)
- Sex & The City (because friends > lovers any day)
- The Break Up (even Brad Pitt dumped Jennifer Aniston IRL)
- Queer Eye (back to back wisdom from 5 gay guys to make you endlessly feel good)
- Dirty John (makes you think twice about dating another man ever again, especially one you met on some dodgy dating site.)
As for your music choices? Listen to songs by Ariana Grande, Dua Lipa, Destiny’s Child, Iggy, Cardi B, Beyoncé etc etc. Do not listen to anything slow, or faintly acoustic.
I repeat, DO NOT LISTEN TO SAD SONGS. If one comes on the radio, TURN THE STATION IMMEDIATELY.
Do not feel like you need to move on quick fire, or go out and party hard. You’re a grown up – do you really want to meet your future husband in some seedy nightclub? Spend some time chilling and getting back to your true self. Somewhere in between being tangled up in someone else, it’s easy to lose bits of our own personalities. Our sparkle can get a little bit tainted, and it’s so easy to jump straight back onto online dating apps for some self validation to make you feel like you are wanted, but it’s chasing a quick high, and what goes up must come down. The endless meaningless chatter with strangers is draining and often proves to be fruitless albeit a very few success stories. Plus, it’s not some poor unsuspecting other person’s job to fix your broken heart. You need to do that yourself! (by following my blog post full of advice obviously!)
Instead, book some things to look forward to. It doesn’t have to be a big fancy holiday if you can’t afford it (and unless your Beyoncé, you probably can’t). Instead, organise road trips, afternoon teas, sleepovers, movie nights, gigs and some small adventures with your nearest and dearest. This will keep you occupied until one day, you’ll wake up, and he or she will no longer be the first thing you think about when you open your eyes. And that my friend, is the moment that we are chasing.
Life is shit sometimes, and I am not going to patronise anyone and say, “You’ll find them when you stop looking”, “you are too good” or any of that other crap. But everyone goes through it, as brutal as it is, and everyone knows how you’re feeling, and I know that is not what anyone who’s suffering wants to hear, but I’m telling you it like it is, and if Jennifer Aniston, Beyoncé and Tiger Wood’s ex wife can bounce back from their heartbreak, then you can too.
Wether it takes you one week, three months, or even two and more years, you will get there – it’s not a race. But eventually you’ll go one hour without thinking of them, then a whole day, and eventually, maybe they’ll cross your mind every once in a blue moon and by that point, you won’t even care who’s following who, if they still have your number etc etc. and that is what it really means, to be free.
*There’s a lot of cons to having a fringe that I didn’t fully consider and probably for the next two or so years, I am going to have to live with the endless bad hair days that come with growing out a fringe that took a meagre three minutes to get. FYI, fringes do not endure hot humid or rainy weather, and since that’s 90% of climates, imagine the uphill battle with taming it. Also, I didn’t fully consider how a fringe works in the gym (pro-tip; it doesn’t) and I have spend two thirds of having a fringe with said fringe fully clipped back out of my face by far too many unfashionable kirby’s.