It has been over a year since my split with the X. I don’t even recognize the person I was then. I was caught between feeling free and feeling abandoned. Feeling relieved and feeling afraid. Excited and hurt. Going through a divorce or any breakup really is filled with so many emotions. I remember thinking I wish I could fast forward a year to see how I am doing or how life turns out. Now that I am on the other side of that year I am amazed at how far I’ve come. I have moved twice, kept up with a high pressure job I had just started about a week before the separation, helped two children become adjusted to all the new changes, and dealt with some serious real life issues outside of divorce. I’m exhausted. But I have learned a lot. And even with all of that I feel better. I feel happier now than I have in a long time. I am a better version of me because I am no longer in that relationship, but there was also a lot of work I put in to rebuilding myself and learning to get over it and move on.
I can’t take full credit for the list I am about to share. I got the idea to create a list from this hilarious podcast I have been following named Girls Gotta Eat. It is an anti-slut-shaming podcast hosted by two single girls in their 30’s living in NYC. If you haven’t been listening to them I highly recommend it. So funny and so relevant to singles today. They provided their advice on how to survive a breakup and I found a lot of parallels. These are a few of my MUST-DO’s in order to survive what has been the hardest year of my life.
- Get off of social media – This is something that should be done fairly quickly. I am not one to go into hiding no matter how dark my life is at any point so I understand not wanting to eliminate social media from your life. It’s a hard thing to do and for so many of us is one of the pastimes we use to relax. The last thing I recommend is eliminating something that helps you unwind. However, it would be wise to unfollow the ex-SO and anyone that may be close to that person. No good can come from stalking his page and seeing what he is up to without you. It will make you read into things that aren’t really there. You might see something you don’t like. It will make you crazy. Plus – what is more annoying than a guy liking your pictures and statuses when you know they don’t want to be with you?? You don’t need the head games. Just break the tie.
- Get active in some way – I have a love/hate relationship with working out but it really does make a difference. I was skeptical to try Crossfit when someone told me it would help me through divorce. Now I can’t live without it. Not only do I feel great every time I go and sweat my butt off and clear my mind for an hour most days of the week, but I know I look better than I did when I was married. No better revenge than looking good. If you are already a regular at the gym, try something new. Go for a run outside, take up yoga, try kickboxing. Challenging your body does wonders for your mind.
- Contact your support system – Go out with your girlfriends, coworkers, siblings – whomever it may be. Anyone who you know will be in your corner. Talk it all out and cry if you’re feeling that way. Then when you’re done venting, talk about literally anything else. Laugh a lot with the people that love you unconditionally. In my personal experience, a ridiculous amount of wine is always present in these situations, but that’s just me. Maybe you lost touch with some friends during that relationship or because of that relationship. Make amends if you desire to and rebuild that friendship. I reunited with 3 different people after my divorce and didn’t even realize that my marriage was causing me to distance myself. Reconnecting with people who knew me before the X helped me feel like myself again.
- Date someone else – Now it sounds cliche to say you need a rebound, but there is some truth to that. I am not saying you need to sleep with someone to get over someone. And I am DEFINITELY not saying jump in another relationship. But say yes to a date. Get dressed up. Flirt. Have someone tell you you’re beautiful. It will make you feel desirable again. And odds are, you probably haven’t felt that way in some time if you are just ending a relationship. Often times after breakups we get into that funk and we think “I am never going to meet someone” or “What are the odds of falling in love like that ever again?”. Going out with someone else let’s you see that it is possible. Someone else finds you dateable! And if they do, there are others out there too.
- Do something you love that you couldn’t do before – Maybe you had a dream at some point and never could follow it or a place you have always wanted to live. Why not now? This could be something as simple as you love to watch scary movies and he hated them. Now you can watch as many as you like. Do you love red throw pillows and he never agreed to get them? GET THEM! Celebrate all the things you no longer have to negotiate. This works well in the reverse too. The X loved to go bowling. We were on a league. I hated bowling. Particularly with him. When I heard he was taking the new one to the bowling alley, I jumped for joy that I would NEVER have to do that again! I never have to watch another Packers game (unless they are playing the Bears of course). I never have to kick 6 drunk men out of my garage at 2 am on a weekday EVER AGAIN. It’s glorious.
- Focus on more important things – It is likely that something in your life was lacking because you were focused on your relationship. Refocus somewhere else. Maybe you haven’t advanced your career in a while. Now is the perfect time to work on a promotion. Maybe you are like me, and have kids from that relationship. Nothing is more important than making sure those kids feel loved and can understand as much as possible during this very confusing time. Or maybe it’s not all that exciting and your new found single life has caused headache and worry about where you will live, what you will do, and what is to come. Well, then you have the most to focus on. Maybe you have to find a job, an apartment, a babysitter, a dog walker, or just a new coffee shop every morning. The point is you could use the distraction. Putting effort towards your new life is healthy and productive.
- Write a blog (or a journal) – Expressing your feelings seems to be much easier when typing than it is to admit out loud. Coming here and word vomiting from time to time helps me get out whatever is on my mind. Then when I read it back it’s like reading a friend’s journal. Do you ever notice we are harder on ourselves than we are on our loved ones? I can say to myself all day long that I wasn’t good enough for my ex but if a friend were to say that about themselves I would be outraged (Those reading this and know him just spit their morning coffee all over the screen). When I read back all of my insecurities, my darkest feelings and thoughts, I can see myself already realizing that I am too hard on myself. Just getting it out onto the screen or writing it down on paper feels like it is already escaping my psyche and I can move forward with a more positive outlook.
- Speak to a professional – I don’t mean a professional at heartbreak, but a therapist. Not all relationships require this level of help when they end, but some do. It is great to get validation from someone who is a complete outsider. Your friends will always have your back as they should. But when a total stranger validates what you’re feeling to be normal, it is revolutionary. My biggest fear is repeating the mistakes I made the first time. Now I realize I just preached in #7 to not be so hard on yourself, but it takes two in a relationship. I like to own up to my mistakes. It can be argued that my biggest mistake was choosing him – heyo! – but in all seriousness, none of us are perfect. I see a therapist every week and work on myself all the time. Maybe you choose the same guy over and over and you need to shed light on why and learn how to choose differently. You might need help just realizing why the relationship didn’t work to come to terms with it. Maybe you can’t let go of your anger (I was guilty of this one for a long time). Whatever it might be that is keeping you from moving on, a therapist can really be an asset.
You might find some of these strategies aren’t fitting for you, or you might find all of them are spot on. I am certainly no expert. I just know that I went through one hell of a year and I could never imagine standing where I am now. I thought I would always hate him. I would never stop being angry. Now I find myself consoling others about my divorce. I have friends and family members that still aren’t over it and hold on to anger. I have to assure them that I wouldn’t have it any other way.