It seems a particularly cruel twist of fate that the heart, even in the throes of a paralysing break-up, insists on soldiering on. If anything, it loves harder. With every bottomless unrequited beat, it looks for old lovers long after they’ve gone – in song lyrics and sunsets, in patches of perfumed bedsheets; even the silence between long drives and the sky. Everything seems to belong entirely to them. It’s a special kind of scorpion sting and even a super strength salve won’t touch the sides. It’s cathartic at best, gut-wrenching at worst and the collateral damage is far-reaching.
Somewhere between the hours of phone calls, texting until your giddy thumbs hurt, laying on chests and placing every soul-baring card on the proverbial table. It. All. Comes. Crashing. Down. And the crippling emotional comedown ensues.
How can someone go from being the earth, the sun, the moon and the stars to being a total stranger; anonymous matter floating out there somewhere in a parallel universe?
You know every little thing that makes them who they are. Every scar, every flaw, every imperfection (yes, Bridgerton quotes will get us through this) but in some twist of fucked up fairytale fate we were never briefed on, they’re cut from the plot never to be seen again and you’re left clutching the beloved proof copy, wondering where it all went wrong.
Welcome to Heart Break City.
We won’t lie to you, it’s a shithole. But listen, it’s a path well-trodden and you’re not about to lay down roots here, you’re merely passing through. Hold onto that thought.
Should you get a little lost while you’re out there finding your way around and tripping over ugly landmarks, here’s a pocket map full of key coordinates, so you can always find your way home. We have every faith you’re gonna make it.
1. Let yourself grieve the relationship
Grieving is an essential part of your healing and as much as it feels vulnerable, scary and unbearable to sit with the pain, letting your feelings do exactly what they need to do to serve you through this funky kind of loss is self-defence on a whole new level. This isn’t something you have to get over within a matter of months, control or push through in order to make it back to normality and no matter how relentless, intrusive and potent your negative thoughts feel, remember they aren’t facts.
It’s not a quick or painless process but part of getting better is allowing yourself to feel devastated first.
When we’re experiencing hardship, we want to skip to the part where we can make things better – we apologise for crying and put thick skin on a pedestal but allowing your emotions to flow freely is exactly how you make it back to peace. It’s not a quick or painless process but part of getting better is allowing yourself to feel devastated first.
2. Take ownership of your loss
It feels a lot like the absence and loss is acutely connected to the other person but it’s not, it’s entirely yours and there’s a powerful lesson there. You sit with the pain, you get to feel it intensely and fiercely, you own it and actually, it has very little to do with them. Take them out of the equation and what you’re usually left with is this feeling of total abandonment. Sure, you feel lonely but that doesn’t mean you’re not worthy of finding love again. You’re right where you need to be and as treacherous as the path may seem right now, a lovely glade full of daffodils, ducks and plenty of dick will turn up. You’ve just gotta get through those rotten brambles first.
3. Focus on perspective
A mantra to live by: no relationship is a waste of time. Reaching a point of acceptance within your loss is a breakthrough moment when you feel like you’ve got a lifetime membership at The Broken Hearts Club.
When we’re blindsided by loss and utter hopelessness, we can’t always spot the gains but that doesn’t mean they’re not there.
You can’t rewrite what’s happened with idealistic ‘what ifs’ but you can choose to take this hardship and grow from it. Like friends old and new who dip in and out of your life at various milestones and hurdles, recognising that some people can only join you for the first leg of the journey because you’ve each got all you can out of that relationship is a beautiful realisation. When we’re blindsided by loss and utter hopelessness, we can’t always spot the gains but that doesn’t mean they’re not there. It might take six months, a year or three years even, but this break up will teach your heart exactly what it wants and needs.
4. Wean yourself away
There’s nothing like a last seen notification to send you over the edge. Why do we do it to ourselves? Mute and block their social media, delete their number, archive photos do whatever you have to do to stop your fingers going there. Weaning yourself off them isn’t easy but distraction is a welcome tonic. Tell your friends exactly what you need from them, fill the void, get a dog, cut your hair, watch that tv series they thought was stupid. Use this time to indulge in all the things YOU want to do.
5. Reconnect with yourself
Loving someone else so hard often means losing sight of your needs in the process. Being single means no more compromise, no more meeting someone else’s needs before your own or answering to anyone but yourself.
Your couple radar will be on high alert and while it may seem like the whole world is drunk in love, soon you’ll begin to notice the solo lovers of the universe; too busy romanticising the f**k out of their lives to give their relationship status a second thought.
6. Write it in a letter, babe
Let it all out by writing a letter as if you were going to send it. Just don’t actually ya know, send it. Sometimes the chaos of heartbreak can leave us feeling like we’re trying to come to terms with a hundred messy parts, knotted together like a shoddy £3 necklace we won at the arcade. We need closure, hun and writing a letter is one way to get it. Tell them how angry and hurt you are, relive the best bits, let your tears mix with the ink and then when you feel like asking for them back… take your pretty little matches to it.
7. Hit play on the tragic playlist
John Legend, Taylor Swift, Westlife – they’ve all joined us in the bath tub of doom before. Wallow with the tear-jerking greats for as long as you need to then when you’re done -usually when your face contorts and your forehead feels like a breeze-block but no actual tears come out, like a cruel variant of cystitis reserved only for the consciously uncoupling folk – stick on some Ariana Grande and rise from the ashes.
8. Put judgement in the bin
If a fling’s what you need, you go do that. Sometimes meeting a new penis or vagina is exactly what you need – just don’t use all those textbook rebound moves to numb the pain because you’ll be back on the bathroom floor with a bottle of cheap plonk that tastes a lot like vinaigrette before you can say Kama Sutra.