It seemed like I was in a bad Hollywood romcom the other day, as rain poured from the sky and the guy I thought was the love of my life, sat across from me in my car and told me we were never actually going out. Two and a half months later, countless dates, and late-night drives only to learn that we had been what? Buddies? I was obviously devastated, and as much as I enjoyed sitting in my pyjamas, eating cake and watching reruns of Law & Order: SVU, I knew I needed to be proactive in my healing or face spiralling into a dark hole and always wondering where I had gone wrong.
There is nothing that films sell short like heartbreak, I mean, Elle Woods ( Legally Blonde, 2001) got her heart broken and applied to Harvard Law, yeah right. More realistically, heartbreak feels like an endless sea of grief that seems to go on forever. Even the smallest of things, like seeing his name on your car Bluetooth, can be a reminder of what you lost. There is no magical, cure-all way to fix a broken heart, however, these tips, courtesy of an Instagram poll can make the heartbreak feel a little less like the world is ending.
- Grieve the Relationship
To use Elsa’s words, “Feel, don’t conceal.” Allow yourself to sit in your feelings, it’s okay to feel sad, angry, and even devastated. Travel through the stages of grief, from denial to anger, until you settle at home base in acceptance. It may take years or days, and running away from your feelings will only prolong the healing process. Allow yourself to feel sad about the love you lost, and grieve the former relationship.
Recovering from a breakup is a lot of work, and getting yourself out of bed and active is even more work. Although it may seem to all be in your head(or heart), a breakup can take a physical toll on our bodies too. Research has found that people who have recently gone through a breakup experience similar brain activity when shown pictures of their ex as they do when they are in physical pain. So those chest pains we are suffering through are not a figment of our imaginations. The best way to counteract the physical discomfort you may be feeling is to exercise. A morning stroll, lifting weights, or cardio, allows your brain to release endorphins and the other yummy hormones that reduce anxiety or depression. And what’s better than a revenge body on the gram?
- Stay Away From Social Media
Trust me, your algorithm knows what is happening in your life- it always knows. When was the last time you didn’t tune into TikTok? Use this time to take a bit of a social media sabbatical, otherwise, your algorithm will be feeding you “Here’s how to know if he really loves you” videos or worst yet “How to know if a woman is in her feminine energy”, you’ll find yourself spiralling down the social media rabbit hole and unlike Alice, you won’t find a wonderland. Save yourself the pain and frustration, and don’t stalk their new partner- it’s never going to bring you the closure you desire.
- Put on Some Tunes
Lucky for you and me, heartbreak is a universal pandemic that spans BC (Before Christ), and so there is a song about every sort of heartbreak imaginable. If you don’t know where to start, my girl Adele has you covered. Taylor Swift just released 1989 ( Taylor’s Version) which has a few heartbreak tear jerkers. If you’re keeping it local, what is better than the Amapiano beat of Abalele to still your broken heart? Music will always be there for us, allow it to soothe your wounds and remind you time and time again that you are not alone.
P.S. Stay away from the songs that remind you of them- we are moving onward not backwards.
- Don’t Delete the Pictures – Yet
In all your anger and hurt you might block, delete, and try your best to forget, but don’t be so hasty. I tried it, only to find myself resaving the pictures. Healing is a journey, you don’t need to rush through anything. Whether it was a talking stage, a situationship, or even a long-term relationship, you allowed some form of love in and it did not turn out how you wanted. You don’t have to rip off the bandaid, slow and steady wins the race, and when you are ready, wipe the reminders of them from your life.
- Lean On Your Community
My friend told me, “If you need to shout- shout at me, if you need to cry, cry to me.” And that’s what we all need through this process, a shoulder to lean on. As easy as it is to put yourself in isolation, talking about it helps, a hug goes a long way, and sharing a tub of ice cream with your mate sometimes feels better than eating it alone.
- Dive Into Your Hobbies
Haven’t picked up your musical instrument since high school? Or baked bread since the pandemic ended? The less time you spend sitting and occupying your mind about the past relationship, the less it will get to you. Occupy your time with distractions, the more the merrier.
8. Pray It Away
This has been the most helpful tip for me, who better to heal my broken heart than the Creator of the universe? Even if you’re not religious, try talking to God about it.
As cliche as Hollywood movies have made it seem, “reinventing” yourself after a breakup can be empowering. According to psychology professor Renee Engeln, “Making a radical change in your appearance can be a way of sending the message that you’re also making a radical change to your life- or that you’d like to.” Pushing yourself to do something radical like adopting a cat (Lupita Nyong’o you did that girl!)facing your fear of heights by going bungee jumping, or moving to another country allows you the freedom to do something without needing anyone’s opinion about it first. A drastic life change is an obvious and somewhat easy way to tell the world that you are ready to start over and reclaim your newly found freedom.
In the difficult moments, remind yourself that you will recover from this. Healing is not linear, and it is absolutely okay to do everything on this list and still feel devastated. For me, missing him comes and goes in waves, but it’s in those breathless painful moments that I remind myself that human resilience is something to be marveled at and that my heart will be whole once more. Most importantly, whatever you do, do not give up on yourself. We must still go on to believe that fairytales exist, and that love will come to stay next time around.