Breakups Don’t Follow a Timeline

Published on 12/28/2021

I’m a hypocrite.

I want to start by acknowledging that I am a hypocrite, and the awareness of that stings deeply now. When people used to cry or talk about their breakup a few months after, I would think, “Ugh, just get over it already.” I wouldn’t understand why they were still sad, why they were still struggling with this. I mean, three months had passed! They had already hooked up with someone new! They had gone on dates! So why were they still crying about the person the moment we finished our second bottle of wine?

Well, I’m a hypocrite. Because six months ago, my relationship of four years ended. Six months ago, my partner told me they were no longer in love with me. And approximately five months and three weeks ago, they moved on to the person they told me not to worry about.

It’s been six months, and yet I still carry this sadness. It’s been six months, and yet sometimes the anger flares up. It’s been six months, and I am still healing.

It takes as long as it takes

Relationships can have an expiry date, but breakups don’t. They hurt for as long as they hurt; that’s the brutal truth. There are a lot of myths about breakups, such as saying you’ll mourn for half the time of your relationship. Maybe you will, but maybe it’ll take less time, or maybe it’ll take more time. You can’t know. Mourning a breakup takes as long as it takes.

You won’t move through the stages of grief; you won’t go from sadness to anger to acceptance. You’ll be sad, and then you might be okay for a day, before you’re sad the next day, and then angry and so forth. It’s like a pinball machine of emotions, darting back and forth between every emotion and sensation. You will have many emotions, in no particular order and without exclusivity. As tempting as it is to numb these emotions, try your best to avoid the urge. Truth lies in these emotions. Healing lies in these emotions. Work through your pain, so it doesn’t follow you into your next relationship.

It can’t be rushed

Part of the pain of a breakup is the feeling of rejection, as if you weren’t good enough, as if your self-worth is being thrown into question. So we seek that validation from another person; we follow the stupid advice of ‘getting under someone to get over someone’. If you want to hook up with someone because of that person, then do it, but don’t do it for your ex. Your emotions won’t go anywhere; they’ll be right there waiting for you. The moment you’re alone, truly alone, they’ll start knocking on your door again, wanting to be dealt with.

You can’t rush your healing with a hookup, a haircut or revenge. You can’t pretend to be fine and then assume you will be. Healing is a process, a process that takes time and effort. You have to be present in your pain, no matter how difficult it feels, and you have to let the pain keep going.

There will be good points along the way; days you don’t think about your ex, people you manage to connect with, accomplishments that make you feel good, just like there will be worse points. So live with your pain, don’t rush it.

It won’t always feel this way

It can feel like you’ll never love again, like you’ll never trust again, but you will. Time heals as nothing else can. One day, you won’t miss them, you won’t hate them, you’ll feel nothing for them. They will be someone you once loved but don’t anymore; they will not be entitled to a space in your mind. When it feels hopeless, remember that happiness will come for you, if you are patient enough. When it feels tempting to lose your pain into someone new, remember that you are working towards something bigger, towards feeling whole again.

Breakups don’t follow a timeline with set stops along the way. Breakups are a messy scribble of a journey, and they are always changing. But however you are feeling is how you’re supposed to feel. All you can do is find your own way to work through these emotions. For me, it was running until I got blisters, it was screaming breakup songs on karaoke with my best friends, and it was sharing my pain through my writing. For you, it might be something different, as long as it is not a distraction but an act of healing.

Fleur

Fleur

Welcome to Symptoms of Living! A place where I like to relieve myself of the barrage of thoughts and ideas filling my mind. Here I'll take a look at various topics, from books to BPD, series to self-harm, there's nothing that we can't, and shouldn't, talk about.

Having struggled with mental illness since the age of 15, one of the hardest parts was how alone I felt in it. While mental illness is beginning to be discussed more openly, and featured in the media, I still think there is room for improvement. So whether it is mental illness or merely mental health, a bad day or a bad year, let's make this a place to approach it and strip it back. Everyone has their own symptoms of living, and you certainly won't be the only one with it.

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