About six months ago, my husband decided to end our five year marriage by telling me that he had been seeing his ex off and on for our entire relationship.
My first reaction was anger and indignation. I moved out, screaming expletives at the man who had once promised me forever and if my relationship with this man had ended there, I would have had a much smoother transition, but, of course, it didn’t.
And that’s why we’re here. It has been a long six months, full of crying, screaming, texts that I never should have sent and lots of remembering who I actually was. I am almost back to normal, finally, and when I say that, I mean that I have discovered a new normal and you will, too.
Remember that your feelings don’t define you
The very first thing that happens when a relationship ends is that both people will do their best to place blame. You will remember all of those little moments that the two of you shared, regardless of how happy your relationship actually was, and you will hold on to those memories like your life depends on them.
But it doesn’t.
The feelings you have about your relationship after it ends do not have any effect on your current situation and will cause you more pain than they are worth. When a relationship ends, it is almost never due to the actions of just one person.
Both of you created it and both of you chose to end it and anger at the other person may make you feel validated for a moment, but will ultimately make you say things you regret. It will make you say lots of things you regret actually and will not fix a single thing.
Reconnect with everyone and everything you’ve lost
In the process of a typical relationship, men and women tend to give up pieces of themselves for their relationship. It is normal, usually pretty healthy and strengthens the bond that two people have together.
Giving up parts of your single lives for the good of your relationship tends to give a relationship meaning, much like how paying for something with your own money is different than getting something for free. But when the relationship ends and you have given away parts of your identity, you will need to get it back. All of it.
If you had kept a journal before your relationship, read it. Call all of your old friends and talk about old times. Reminisce about everything that you used to love and do things that you used to do.
If you had gotten rid of some bad habits, try not to fall back into them, but the key is remembering who you were before and remembering that before you met your ex, you were a whole person who felt worthy of love and trust.
Find someone who can handle your bad days
Regardless of how good you feel on your good days, you will have bad ones and they will usually happen when you least expect them. The sun will be shining in the morning, right up until you find out that your ex has a new girlfriend and all of those emotions that you thought were gone, come flooding back.
You will find yourself sobbing for what your rational mind will deam “no apparent reason” and you will need a pep talk. Some friends are better at this than others, so pick your person carefully and when you find yourself laying on the sofa with your ex’s Facebook page pulled up on your browser and tears pouring down your cheeks, call them.
Let someone explain to you that there is a whole other world out there and that it is perfectly OK for you to live in it.
The most important key to moving on is forgiving yourself for your relationship ending. You aren’t a failure. In fact, you haven’t failed at anything.
You’ve given yourself a chance to start again and try again and nothing is healthier than a new beginning. You are about to embark on a new adventure, but that doesn’t mean you will forget your old life. You have memories from before you met that person, so it stands to reason that you will make memories after they are gone.
Don’t stay friends right away
Once you have broken up, the best thing you can do is let that person go. It is easier, especially in the beginning, to fall back on that old, comfortable love when you are feeling lonely or sad, but it will only make you feel worse in the end. Strengthen your friendships with anyone and everyone else, first.
Your friends will be the ones who will help you make it through, not that idiot who didn’t know what he had when he had you. If you get to a point where you can see his face without crumbling a little inside, then, and only then, you can touch base, but remember that going back is harder than moving forward and rarely as much fun.
You aren’t yourself when you’re heartbroken
Keep in mind that as soon as you change your Facebook status to single, there is a chance that everyone who feels like they have a chance with you will crawl out of the woodwork. The attention may seem flattering, but until you can remember who you were before and until your heart heals, you won’t be you.
You will be half of a person who just lost half of your identity and in this vulnerable state, you won’t be capable of making good decisions about your future and run the risk of ending up attaching to someone for reasons other than love and mutual affection.
There is a great big world out there, fellow love-survivors, but until you are ready to see it, you will be stuck in your small corner of it. As Tom Petty said, “Don’t let the world make you bad.”
Surround yourself with good people, do things that feel right instead of feel good and you will not only survive this bump on the road, you will be stronger than you ever thought possible. I promise.