Whether it has been an hour, a day, a week or a month, eventually the split brings you to your knees. Thoughts about what went wrong, how it came crashing down, and what could have been done differently become a broken record in your mind. Rehashing these thoughts do little good for the emotional knot in your stomach and chest that never seems to go away, but feels like it will eventually be the end of you.
Whether it was you who pulled the plug on the relationship or her, the phase in which you transition from an “us” to a “me” isn’t easy. We’ve all been there. We’ve all indulged in an “Arrested Development” marathon weekend sponsored by frozen pizzas, microwavable corn dogs and Doritos.
A broken heart is one thing we have in common with strangers on the bus, our waitress at the greasy spoon we visit for brunch, and that obnoxious upstairs neighbor who has ABBA’s Greatest Hits stuck on repeat.
Talk shows, articles, websites, books and even our friends have a wealth of information on what it takes to heal the heart after a break-up. From “unfriending” her on Facebook, to hitting the gym a bit more or longer to a night out with the guys, there are “guaranteed” steps to helping the hurt fade.
What these resources fail to tell you is that “results may vary.” What works for some doesn’t work for others. What may be promoted as the best breakup advice does very little to erase the mental image of your ex burned into your mind.
When it comes down to it, the key to handling breakups lies within you. I’m not talking Jedi mind tricks . . . although that would be helpful. The power to bounce back from a broken heart takes accountability, acceptance and ability to let the awesome in.
Many of the tips offered via the Internet or your best friend’s little sister put you in the driver’s seat of a very large bulldozer. This vehicle allows you to plow through life on auto-pilot, to pretend that you are back in control and can just push on. You can do things like kicking her out of your Google+ circles or hitting the gym for an extra nine workouts this week.
Eventually, your bulldozer will get stuck behind an extremely large pile of relationship muck that still has to be cleaned out and dealt with before you can move forward. Instead of handling it in little piles or as it comes up, it will be a massive project in the end that will leave you irritated, raw and done with love.
You can’t control or change the fact that your relationship’s “best before” date has passed. You can’t change the fact that it is going to be difficult to move on. There will be pain, frustration and change. Yes, you’ll feel lonely for a while – but it will pass.
What is within your control is how much more pain and frustration you are going to add to the muck pile. The faster you realize that it is you who continues to add to the pile, the pain, and the frustration, the sooner you will clear the muck. In order to move on, you have to let go. Quit adding to the pile.
An important part of this process is taking responsibility for the outcome of the relationship. Rather than accepting all the blame (very unhealthy), or placing it on the person (again, not the best route), take an honest look at what happened. Being accountable for your part in the split helps define the learning lessons and enables you to take a step forward.
Don’t play another round of the blame game – either with your ex or in your head. It’s unhealthy and is just not a nice thing to do to yourself.
Another part is accepting the fact that the relationship is over and done. This is tricky for it isn’t easy to imagine moving forward sans the ex. Closing the book on the relationship allows you to focus on what you need to do, want to do and try new things. It opens a new book, a new chapter and new opportunities in life, love and all that comes with them.
And, lastly, let the awesome in. There are times when we want to wallow in our pain. Do so. It’s normal to feel lost and hurt after a break-up. It’s the loss of a shared future. It’s having a dream crushed. But don’t become obsessed by it.
When a door closes on a relationship, it’s a nasty habit we have to focus on the closed door. We focus on what we can’t have. Meanwhile, several other open doors that may hold the key to our happiness are standing wide open. The sooner you stop pushing the muck about, take control over what you can and take positive steps forward, the quicker you will bounce back.
The power to healing a broken heart is within you. Tap into that bit of awesome and clear the muck out. You will be surprised by what doors open to you.