It’s like living with phantom limb syndrome – that’s always my response when people ask how life after a breakup is. You grieve, you do the angry thing, you dabble in excessive drinking, and ultimately get over it. Every now and then though, (maybe when it rains) you just kind of ache. Moving on? Not fun. Then one day, maybe in a week, a month, or a year, it will pour and you’ll find yourself absent-mindedly rubbing a sore spot in your chest. You’ll be thrown off by the intense sense of déjà vu until a week later when you see your ex in line at the supermarket.
Nothing is permanent. Eventually that acute pain from the wreckage in your heart will fade away. You’ll laugh until your stomach hurts and your soul will be so full of joy that you’ll swear this is the highest high. And yes, you will meet someone that will light your world on fire and remind you that you have strong wings and you can fly. But before you can stand in the sun like Olivia and Jake, you have to move on. It’s one thing to want to, and a completely different thing to physically drag yourself out of the darkness that has leeched on to you.
Breakups are impossibly hard. They’re like getting a splinter in between your fingers; you’ll only start to feel better once you remove the source of the agitation. Leave it in, and you’ll succumb to some kind of life threatening infection. There is a reason that things didn’t work out between the two of you. Maybe you just weren’t right for each other, maybe you fought too much, maybe after four years you just grew into different people who wanted different things out of life. That’s okay, but you need to accept this and gently let go of your ex.
Save yourself the sleepless nights of stalking his Twitter feed to see if he is going out, delete his number from your phone to spare both of you from embarrassing drunk texts, and for your own sake, don’t talk yourself into thinking you can be best friends.
Let yourself feel everything, no matter how incredibly loud and uncomfortably close those feelings may be. Lie down on the bathroom floor and cry for two days. Wear big sunglasses in public because your eyes are bloodshot and puffy. Scream into a pillow for a week. But then stop. Set a limit for your pain threshold and reclaim your life from the demons that have sunk their teeth into you. In time your ego will recover, the dark circles will fade as sleep transitions from an enemy to a friend, and the crushing sadness that filled you with every beat of your heart will be a memory. Decide that you are going to feel better and you will.
Love yourself enough to make up for all the ways he could not. It’s cliché because it is true. You must love yourself before you can allow others the same privilege. There is beauty in struggle, so instead of seeing yourself as damaged or someone’s cast-off, embrace your resilience. It is not his fault he could not see the magnitude of your greatness. A better man will, but more importantly you need to see it, and believe it.
The ugly truth is that there is no trick for moving on. There is no formula to follow that will expedite the process. The reality is that you planned a life with someone, you saw a future, and then you watched as it blew up and the world fell apart under your shoes. Band aids don’t fix bullet holes, only time and an active effort to be happy will ‘fix’ you.
I can promise that you will feel better. You won’t always cringe at the sight of flowers and those butterflies you thought had died when you gave him his stuff back will come back full force when that guy with the green/grey eyes kisses you back. Most importantly, you will realise that you are whole and you are enough – with or without a guy. Then you’ll see that ex in the supermarket and you won’t feel a thing. And you’ll know you’ve moved on.