Last week, I went through possibly the worst breakup I’ve ever been involved in. I won’t go into details, it’s not fair on me or my ex. Needless to say, I had several days of wallowing, feeling like utter crap (excuse my French!) and not really knowing what to do with myself. I’ve spent more hours in my pyjamas this past week than I care to recall, and consumed a lot of sweets, chocolate, and a moderate amount of alcohol. I spent the first three days almost constantly crying, or trying to repair the damage from crying. I slept in til the afternoon most days, and couldn’t get to sleep until 4 or 5am most nights. It was horrible, and anyone looking on would have been horrified at my ‘routine’ (or lack thereof). However I have now, finally, got to the point where though I am still incredibly upset, I feel able to keep going, and rejoin something vaguely resembling normal life.
This is not the first breakup I’ve been through, and it probably won’t be the last, but it is the one which has (so far) hit me the hardest, but also taught me the most. I would be foolish to claim that I’m the only one who has been through this sort of thing, and far from it, a large portion of us will, at some point or another, experience ‘that’ breakup, the one which shifts our whole world and rips our heart out. Hopefully it will also change your perspective for the better. It’s easy to fall to old clichés in times like this; there are plenty more fish in the sea, you deserve better, and so on, but none of these are really helpful at the time. In fact, I think they can be more damaging than positive. When you find yourself newly single, the last thing you should be thinking of is finding somebody else. In fact, you should use the time to focus more on yourself; work out your thoughts, acknowledge and then work through emotions, and most importantly love yourself.
In a previous blog I talked about loving yourself before you can be with anyone else, but it applies just as much, if not more so, at the other end of that. When a relationship ends, no matter how self assured and confident you were, it can knock the wind out of you at the least, at worst cause your self worth to come crashing down. It is important to take some time out, to feel how you are feeling. Wallow in it for a few days and become a movie cliché if needs be. This is vital as it allows you to grieve for what you have lost, and prevents feelings being bottled up and causing more problems later on. Take a weekend, take a week if you need to, but just make sure you give yourself a time limit for this part. It’s all well and good to let your emotions out, but if you continue like this for too long you run the risk of slipping into a really dangerous, destructive pattern. Once you have had your ‘heartache days’ (to quote The Mindy Project) you need to come up with a plan. In my opinion, this is the most exciting part.
Being somewhat of an organising freak (I own two filofaxes and use several apps on my phone to store info, record appointments and remind me of to-dos) I relish the opportunity for a good mental and/or physical clear out. First of all, grab a notebook. Now this may well be an excuse to go out and buy yourself a new notebook, especially if you’re anything like me, or just find one at home. Make sure it is blank, or tear out a few pages so it’s empty. On the front cover, write your name, or the date, or something else which signifies your fresh start. Then on the first page simply write down anything you want to achieve in the next month, or six months, or year. It can be literally anything; from losing weight to starting up a business, no matter how big or small it all counts. Don’t think too hard at this stage, just write down anything that comes to mind. Go with your heart, and realise that you have a lot of potential for greatness. Next, go through the list/mind map/random jumble, and pick out the things which are achievable. Don’t limit yourself because you are being cautious about something, but don’t try to take on too much either. Between 5 and 10 things is a good number, ranging from little tasks like finally finishing that collage for your wall, through to big, slightly scarier things like running a half marathon. Now turn over the page, and write out this least as neatly as you can, with a space between each item. Depending on the size of your notebook this may take up several pages, if you like you can even give each item a page to itself.
Now you have a list of things to work towards. You can leave it there for now, or take the next step and begin to write down the smaller steps needed to achieve each of your goals. I like to do this all at once, as it gives me a clear sense of what I need to do, and also makes me feel like I am actually capable of doing it. A long list of things can seem daunting, but broken down into manageable chunks it’s much more palatable.
The next thing which I feel is important to do after a break up is to treat yourself. I don’t mean go out and buy a £800 handbag (though if you can then by all means go for it, and if you’re feeling generous buy me one too :p ). Depending on your budget, this can take many forms. From a simple bar of your favourite chocolate, to a pampering day at a spa with your best friend, chose something which will make you feel happy and boost your self esteem. A good trick if you’re stuck as for what to do is think about what you wish your ex had bought you/done for you, and then do it for yourself. By taking ownership of your needs and acting on them, you are taking a step towards truly valuing your own worth. It’s always nice to receive a gift from a friend, so be your own friend and show yourself some love.
I could write a whole blog post about valuing yourself and why it’s important to look after yourself (and I will) but for now, I shall leave you with a list of some of my new goals for the next few months.
Run for SU officer at my uni
Finish my course and graduate
Finish the first draft of my novel
Find a job (either as SU officer if elected, or elsewhere in London)
Move into somewhere I feel at home after uni
What are your goals and aims for the year/month/week? Even if you haven’t gone through a breakup recently, it can be useful to follow this plan to help refocus and move forward from all sorts of things from losing a job to moving home.