Read the author’s follow-up: What it’s Actually, Really like to Get Over Heartbreak.
I sometimes feel like I have a PhD in heartbreak.
Except, not really, because every time it seems to hurt just as much as it did the last. Every time I find myself sitting there, wondering how things went so wrong, how it ended seemingly unexpectedly, and what the hell am I going to do from here.
But the thing is, even though I’ve experienced heartbreak what feels like countless times in my short, 26-year-old life, I’ve come to accept that you don’t have to be okay. You don’t have to get yourself out of it immediately, and you don’t have to force yourself into healing.
You’re heartbroken—so be in that.
Recently, a friend and colleague said to me, “I’m sure this sucks and hurts and has you questioning everything, so just go with that for a while. You don’t need to feel better or move on right now. Just feel it all. If things are meant to work out between you two, they will. And if they’re not, you will eventually get to a place where you’re at peace and realize this was for the best.”
So, here’s to the brokenhearted. Here’s to the ones trying to move through this place of discomfort, pain, confusion, sadness, despair.
I’m going through it with you. And I’m telling you: you’re allowed to grieve. You’re allowed to do whatever you need to move through this time.
Here are 10 things you are absolutely allowed to do in heartbreak:
1. Eat delicious food. Yes! Eat your heart away. Sure, you might not feel amazing after, but honestly, who cares. You can eat healthy the next day. Or the next week. Just do what you need to do to get through this moment. And let me tell you, ordering $50 worth of Thai food really does make the heart feel better, even if momentarily.
2. Watch crappy TV. Don’t want to think about your breakup right now? That’s okay. Put on some comedy or a reality show that takes your mind off things for just a few hours (and sometimes, laughing has a way of letting other emotions come out).
3. Alternatively, cry. Listen to sad music and curl up in your bed with tissues. Let it all out. And then:
4. Write about it. Get it all out there and onto pen and paper in order to make sense of your feelings. I know it is tempting to text them, and it’s okay if you do, but why not write it to yourself first or a friend, and decide tomorrow if you still want to.
5. Vent to your friends. Do not feel like a burden. They are there for you and want to be there for you. And they can ground you in a way you can’t do for yourself.
6. Skip exercise. You don’t have to keep up your workout routine right when the breakup happens. As someone who has struggled with having an obsessive relationship to working out, I used to always feel like I couldn’t “let myself go,” and I wished I could be one of those people who got really fit right after a break to “show them”—that’s unhealthy thinking. If working out helps you get out of your head, then by all means go for it. But don’t beat yourself up if you are also struggling to just get out of bed.
7. Be confused. You don’t have to have all the answers right away. You don’t have to know what you’re going to do tomorrow, the next three weeks, or the rest of your life. Just take it day by day and soon the clarity will come.
8. Be angry. It’s okay to be mad at them, at yourself, at the world for being so goddamn unfair. It’s okay to be angry that you’re actually not angry at all. Because how can you be angry at someone who meant so much to you?
9. Feel nothing. Sometimes, it won’t hit us right away. You’re not a bad person if you’re not crying. You’re not a bad person if you go out for dinner the next day with your friends. We all cope in different ways, and sometimes, distraction can be healthy if we’re not ready to feel all the feels.
10. Go a little bit “crazy.” I’ve been there. I know what it’s like to become a cyberstalker, to check their last online status for some sign of life, to try and casually (not-so-casually) ask people what they were up to. I’ve been there in the past and it is painful. I won’t do it again—but I know it is something we sometimes need to do. In the past, my friends would tell me to “just stop,” but it was like I had to touch the plate I knew was hot just to confirm that it was.
We learn from our mistakes the hard way, but we shouldn’t feel ashamed for these behaviours either. Soon, you’ll realize you haven’t checked their status in a day and it will surprise you. And then it will be two days, and suddenly you have moved on in your own, messy, beautiful, imperfect way.
The thing about breaking up is that the pain doesn’t diminish each time, but the recovery period does. I really think we only come to be able to heal faster if we allow ourselves to just be in whatever it is we’re in. If we try to suppress, ignore, block, move on too quickly, then we only postpone those feelings until a later time.
I don’t wish heartbreak on my worst enemy, but there is something to be said for the way we humans can face this kind of pain and chaos and find our way through it.
You will be okay again. I will. And I’m telling you it’s true because I’m here, writing you this after many times feeling like I wouldn’t.
This will help, too: