There, I said it.
Even if the breakup was your idea, or mutual, and things ended amicably… even if you can still be friends, and you keep in touch… even if you still want that person to be happy and you wish them all of the best in the world.
Yeah… breakups still suck.
You see, I know this firsthand because I personally have gone through this very thing recently. Well, okay, I went through a breakup 9 months ago which, as my 25 year old assistant so kindly reminded me yesterday, is a long time ago. Bless her soul!
The truth is that in some cases 9 months can in fact be a long time. It takes 9 months for a baby to be born, which for an uncomfortable pregnant woman (I would imagine) could seem even longer than an eternity. Someone whose loved one is deployed for 9 months would probably also agree that amount of time is a very long time. So, realistically, it would appear that 9 months is in fact a long time and should be plenty of time to get over a breakup.
However, healing hearts do not understand the concept of time. There is no schedule to follow, and every individual person going through this is entitled to take as much time as they need to grieve. Even though nobody died, the relationship that once was no longer is, and the stages/feelings that follow a breakup often mirror the stages/feelings of grieving a death.
The 5 stages of grief are: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance.
As I learned in a psychology class many years ago, the order of the 5 stages is different for everyone.
The first stage I went through was bargaining. I talked myself into staying in the relationship longer, even though the writing was on the wall that our paths in life were swiftly separating, because I was not ready for it to be over and I did not want to lose this person that I loved. I was not ready for 6.5 years of effort and memories to become a thing of the past. So I bargained and pleaded with the Universe… until I realized that my pleas were falling upon the deaf ears of the Universe, which had plans of its own for me.
Once the relationship was officially over, the second stage I went through was denial. After the initial shock of the relationship being over wore off, and I had spent 2 weeks on the couch crying my eyes out and binge- watching Keeping Up With The Kardashians from Season 1, the tears all dried up and I thought to myself “Well… that wasn’t so bad.” I told myself I was okay so much that I actually truly believed it… for about a month. During that month of denial, I continued on with my life – business as usual. I even was in regular communication with my ex and it all seemed simple being friends. Until one afternoon, something reminded me of him that made me miss him and our relationship. And then everything came crashing down around me.
The third stage I went through was depression. During these months, I slowly started to withdraw from everyone, and stopped living my everyday routine. It was as if I completely stopped being me. The only thing that I continued to do every day was show up for work– although, I admit, many days were spent alone behind my closed office door crying. I stopped working out with my personal trainer. I stopped going to kickboxing. In fact, I just stopped going to the gym completely. I also stopped responding to text messages from my friends. You see, the first 2 weeks after a breakup is when everyone is calling and texting you to check-in and make sure you’re okay; similar to right after a funeral of a loved one, when everyone sends tons of food to your home or drops in to check on you. But life goes on, and pretty soon everyone else goes back to their normal routine, leaving you on your own. I don’t blame any of my friends for not continuing to check in. After all, I was so convincing that first month while I was in denial that my friends really thought I was handling things just fine. Hell, I even convinced myself I was fine at first. But the more I isolated myself, the more depressed I became, and the more I cried. Anything and everything those days made me cry. You name it – it made me cry.
I very quickly fell into my fourth stage. And by quickly fell, I mean literally smacked right into that brick wall. My fourth stage was anger. And this stage appeared one day, out of the blue, right after I found out that my ex went on his first date since our breakup. When I found out, I was shocked. I won’t lie – it hurt to hear. A lot. But my hurt quickly turned into a fierce anger. We were together for almost 7 years, and we haven’t even been broken up for a year yet. How dare he? I will not lie; this stage was the shortest but felt the best. It was the first stage where I felt like I was in control again.
I am settling into my fifth stage of acceptance, and in doing so I am recognizing a lot of life lessons. One of those life lessons is “Always do your best.” Even if things do not work out in your favor, you know that you did everything in your power and that you did your best. If the relationship does not work out you can look back later knowing that you did your very best, that there was nothing more you could do, and you will eventually find peace in knowing that. In this fifth stage, when I look back on my relationship I know I did my very best to make things work. And I know he did too. So I can honestly close that chapter of my life knowing that I gave it my all, and that the relationship served its purpose and taught me exactly what I needed to learn. I am finally making peace with that.
I recently had a friend tell me “People are in your life for a reason, season, or lifetime.” When you meet someone new, you just never know which one of those categories they will fall into for you. Love to the fullest anyway. You have to take the risk, knowing that you might get hurt.
Remember that you will never be good enough for the person who is not ready for you… but for the person who is ready for you – well, they are just waiting to find you! So, keep on working to be the best version of yourself. Always take the risk. Always love to the fullest. And always, always do your best.