I know how much a broken heart hurts – I’ve been there! Here’s how you can heal, or at least take steps towards recovery…
1. Life is not supposed to be pain-free or easy. You are not entitled to sail along without storm damage, setbacks or rejection. You will not be the first or the last person to feel disappointed that your fairy tale didn’t end happily ever after. Experiencing and learning from pain can help mould you into a decent, humble human being. Without this pain, how will you know to value and treasure the next good guy who comes along? It might even help keep you working at your next relationship – in order to avoid feeling that bleak again! The awful, sodden hopelessness you feel after a relationship falls apart has a purpose.
2. Allow yourself time to grieve. Watch box sets. Drink too much. Bore your friends. Don’t wash your hair or put in your contact lenses. It’s okay to feel sad. And to be waterlogged.
3. But you can’t weep forever. If he thought your relationship wasn’t right, it wasn’t right. You can’t be blamed for mourning the failure of a relationship but you can be held responsible for clinging to its memory for too long. A very important first step is forcing yourself to commit to getting over it. Mourning something, sometimes, is just another way of keeping it alive. If you do that, you will make it very hard to move forward.
4. Proactivity is your friend. Even if you don’t think you can drag yourself out, plan positive distractions that force you out into the world. It will feel awful at first, but time moves faster when you are not immersed in pain and memories.
5. Bad novels are distracting, not taxing. Thrillers are better than chick lit. You might have to read one page 10 times, as your attention will wander, but persevere.
6. Plan something to look forward to in the short, medium and long term. Plan B might not be exactly what you wish you were doing, but doing something pleasurable is better than doing nothing. And the more good things you do, the more you will rebuild your ability to enjoy them.
7. Unfriend him on Facebook. Do not drive past his house at 5am to see who slept the night. Do not interrogate friends you have in common. Force yourself to cut all remaining ties.
8. Mourn the end of the relationship but do not throw in any of the following negatives into your misery mix: ‘I am unlovable’, ‘I will never meet anyone else’, ‘I will never have a baby’, ‘There is something wrong with me’ and ‘I wasn’t good enough’. Grieve the loss of the man only, not the stuff you can make happen for yourself. Don’t be self-destructive. There is nothing terminally wrong with you. A relationship just didn’t work out.
9. Work is medicine. Success at work should be a source of affirmation, reward and self-esteem. Throw yourself into work with energy and passion.
10. Get back out there. Date many men. Go on dating sites. Get friends to set you up. Even with men you would not normally pay any attention to. Part of the pain you are feeling is the pain of rejection, not the loss of that particular man. Being seen as attractive by other men will help you feel better. And enough of them will find you attractive. Promise.
11. Get professional help if you feel, even for a second, that you need it. The kind of insights that a good therapist can help you uncover will enable you to make sense of your emotions.
12. Men are grown-up boys. They laugh at penis and fart jokes. They grow beer bellies and hair out of their noses. They are not gods or princes. Do not give <any> man more power than he deserves. Put him in a box until the time when you can remember the good times fondly.