Some of us—those of us who are eternal pessimists—can struggle to find the bright side of things.
And that can be especially true when it comes to finding the silver lining of having a deeply broken heart. Especially when it feels like it hasn’t just been broken but chopped up, put through a grinder, and fed to a family of vultures. Graphic? Maybe, but when you know, you know.
However, that silver lining can be crucial for the process of moving on and healing. Because when we remember that the person we were once in love with wasn’t all bad, that there were some good, redeeming qualities, we can accept their part in the larger story of how we and our lives are shaped. And in my opinion, that’s what helps mend a broken heart best.
Here are a few good things we can learn from our exes, taken from both personal experiences and those of our dear readers:
1. How to truly love ourselves through the hard moments in life, and in our relationships. (Because when we’re hurting, that’s when we dig in and get to work on finding our intrinsic worth.)
2. A good, clear example of how we would like to be treated in new relationships, and what we’re willing to offer ourselves. (Because not only do we figure out our own deal breakers and love language, we also realize that a relationship is not all take—we learn what we’re willing and capable of giving, too.)
3. Don’t forget the little things that add so much value to our lives. Like, how to finally create a budget for yourself. A very personal “chill out” strategy to counter panic attacks. How to drive stick. How to play Crib. A favorite recipe. Introduction to some of your favorite songs and musicians. That black-capped chickadees are called “cheeseburger birds,” and that little nugget makes you laugh the rest of your life.
4. How to trust our gut when something doesn’t seem right.
5. That it’s okay to walk away when it’s time. It might be something we learn from relationships, but it’s a skill we can then apply to so many other areas of life—like walking away from a friendship, a family member, a job, or even something as benign as switching banks. We learn that hanging on for the sake of it is never good for anyone, and least of all, ourselves.
6. That we are fully capable of doing life alone when we need to. That it’s nice to have a partner, but it’s not a requirement—because we’re strong, smart, inventive, competent, independent, clever people.
7. How to communicate well. Because the silent treatment still communicates, but not in a way that will solve a problem. Because snark just adds more fuel to the fire. Because saying everything but what we really mean just confuses things. Learning to communicate well, honestly, and kindly will serve us for our whole life.
9. That it’s possible to love again, and again, and again. Even if it doesn’t seem like it at first. Who you think is “the one” will change.
10. To be accountable for our own happiness, whether that’s in a partnership or when we’re single.