I know this blog is mostly about dating, but with dating inevitably comes heartache. The dumping, the ghosting, the breakups- it is all painful and difficult to work through. At the time it can feel impossible to move forward, and you maybe physically experiencing symptoms of shock. You question everything about the relationship, about yourself, you want closure and most of all you want THIS FEELING to stop so you can move on.
This is a two part series, so watch for Getting Closure Part II in just a few days which will give you actual advice on what to do every day to get on with your life and over a breakup.
Now, with all things, I’m research oriented. I want to share some videos and articles that might help you process this, I know they helped me.
Here are 10 really tough truths you need to know:
- You will not get closure from him/her. You may have had no explanation from the breakup. You may have done the breaking up. You may have had days or months of discussions so you know in frustrating detail why it ended. In any case, you may still say “But I don’t have closure.” or “I still need closure.” as a reason you still contact the ex. Here is the tough reality; you will never get closure from your ex. Ever. That is a movie plot point because it is convenient for Hollywood but sweetie let me tell you, it doesn’t work. Nothing the other person will ever say will make you feel whole again, or make it feel like what pain you went through was justified. I guarantee you if you contact them hoping it will make you feel better you will feel 100% worse after you talk to them. You’ll get nonsense answers like “It is me and not you” or “You were perfect, it was just the wrong timing” at BEST and just make you feel even more confused and unable to heal. At WORST they will be really nasty and hurt your self esteem, or manipulate you to use your vulnerability.
- You are responsible for how you feel. (5 Ways to Get Closure After a Breakup – Mark Rosenfield) don’t let the thought that if the other person only said something or did something that you could get closure, feel better, understand better, etc. This is closely related to #1.
- It is possible to commit no mistakes and still lose. That is not a weakness. That is life (Star Trek – Captain Picard)
- If he/she left you, then they were not right for you anyway. The right person for you will be crazy about you. I know you don’t believe that now, but keep saying it to yourself and you will.
- It is ok to not be “there yet” – friends will give you advice and opinions all the time about what you should do, how they feel about it, how you feel about it etc. It is a 100% ok to say “you know I’m not there yet”. You can say “I know one day I will not want him/her back because of this, but I’m not there yet.” You can say “You know one day I might be angry at him/her, but I’m not there yet. I’m just sad.” Recognizing where you are and not trying to force it maybe the best way to heal.
- Time Machine Trap -A lot of how we make ourselves miserable after a breakup is either thinking about a past that will never be again, or thinking about a future that will probably never be. Spend time in the present. Think of activities that require you to be wholly present in the moment (this is part of why exercise works well and is so often recommended) if that is dancing, playing a really mind consuming game, taking up a new book or engrossing TV series, learning a new hobby or taking up an old one, learning something new. All of these things will keep you present.
- Time deal heal, but only if you’re putting the effort into your time to get over it. Don’t just distract or numb yourself. Don’t try to bury this so deeply because you want to avoid emotions that they just come up and bite you again later. Be busy but stay with the thoughts and emotions until you work through them (Does Time Really Heal All? – Amy Young)
- You don’t have to understand what happened to move on. We all have a thousand questions we think we need answered before we can process it or move on. We get stuck on those questions, sometimes we even have imaginary conversations with our ex or worse try to reach out to them “for closure” to get answers. You should work with the fact you will probably never make sense of this, it will never be understandable or put those questions to rest. Live with not knowing the answers instead of tormenting yourself with the thought that you would just FEEL BETTER if you got answers. (see commandment 4 below)
- If they don’t want you, you really don’t want them (He ended things but you’re still not over it – Amy Young)
- You cannot railroad yourself through the stages of grief or the stages of a breakup. You’ll jump around these stages at random times, and that is ok. Don’t make making progress harder by trying to criticize yourself for where you are “in the process”.
Here are the 10 commandments to follow to help you move on:
- No Contact is best – and I mean ALL no contact. You block his phone, no texts, block his Facebook, block his emails and avoid hanging out with friends you know spend time with him. (With FEW exceptions, mutual friends can just become this “potential way of information flow” either you hope they will tell you about them, or they will mention how AMAZING you look/are doing, or even WORSE that someday this mutual friend will tell you how much they regret the breakup and want you back). Learn how to block his instragram at your network level so you can’t even search for his account that you’re totally not following. As much as you can, you need to amputate. You can’t move on if you always feel like there is a door he can walk through or a window you can watch him from. No contact also means removing triggers that remind you of the past (delete or store photos of him where you can’t easily see them… that means OFF your phone and social media. Mementos should be tossed or stored in a box in the back of a corner of the attic you never go in…hopefully guarded by spiders or something) I PROMISE you this is the best way to start to get closure. NOT by contacting him. Remember truth #1? You’re not going to get closure from HIM you will get it from YOU.
- Do NOT use the relationship as an Ugly Broken Mirror (Why You Can’t Get Over Him – Amy Young)
- Fake it Before you Make it – right now the LAST thing you want to do is party, go dancing, join a club, volunteer or generally be around anyone or anything that is remotely happy. You feel like you’d be “bad company” or you just “not in the mood” but right now is when you need to do those things the MOST. View it as taking medication; yes it tastes disgusting at first and you HATE that cough syrup breath but it WILL make you feel better in the long run.
- Make Your Own Closure. This means so many things I’ve mentioned above and will mention in Part II. Making your own closure means cutting off contact, making yourself reframe your thoughts when they wander to your ex or your relationship, and creating a new life for yourself in which you are busy. See truth #2 above; you can make yourself feel better, not him/her. You have control over your emotional state and YOU CAN GIVE YOURSELF CLOSURE regardless of the other person’s actions. This starts with self care; eat right (don’t binge eat or drink), take care of hygiene and chores, take therapy, engage in hobbies and activities you like even if you don’t feel like it at the time.
- Identify when you’re trying to get control by thinking about the whys and whatifs and label it as not helpful and think about something else (How to Let Go When He Doesn’t Like or Love You Back – Amy Young)
- A breakup is like withdrawing from a drug you’re addicted to. Take your recovery plan from recommendations for addicts. Lookup “how to get over a breakup” and “how to stay sober” and you will be shocked at the similarities. Exercise, eat right, avoid triggers, avoid friends that may trigger you, practice forgiveness, don’t substitute one addiction for another (avoid drinking, drugs), do new things even if you don’t feel like it (see #3).
- Remember all the ways he was not so great. Particularly when you start thinking about the past (like in #5 of the commandments) label it and think about at least one thing that you didn’t like about him. Make a list, write it down and ADD to it. You’ll be surprised how long that list gets. It DOES help
- Talk it over and over until you are bored. Talk to an empty chair, text your friends, go online to chat rooms, write letters you will never send. Eventually you’ll have said there is all to say. You’ll feel a little emotionally hallowed out, but that feeling is making room for good things.
- Practice gratitude. Once a day write down or post about something you are grateful for. It can be anything, and it may not feel sincere at first but it does help. Use the “only me” feature on Facebook and post one every day.
- What did you learn? This sounds strange but you will feel better and be able to move if you can answer this. This is NOT to say you did anything wrong. You may need to say “what I learned is that I can love someone very much but that doesn’t mean they feel that way about me”. You could have learned that it is possible to have a complete lack of control or input into the situation that hurts so badly. Or, owning your part maybe simply “I gave too many fucks too soon.” Once you can say “this is what I learned from that” you will be that much closer to moving on.
WARNING – BEWARE OF THE QUICK FIX
It is going to be really tempting to do something DRASTIC so you can get closure immediately. Let’s face it, feeling this way sucks and we all want it over with as soon as we can. But drastically changing your style/look/hair, moving, or jumping right into another relationship is all a BAD IDEA right now.
First, you’re going to look crazy to your friends. You must remember when your friend did something similar after a breakup…right? Remember what you thought when Tim got a mohawk after Lisa dumped him? Or when Jerry got that piercing?
Secondly, it will only distract you for a little while and then all the repressed shit will come back up. Like a toilet backing up, all that shit will come back at you and in a unexpected anyway that involves shit spilling out all over your shoes. It is bad, trust me. You’re just trying to find a shortcut to truth #7 – but you have to put the TIME IN to getting closure from yourself.
So You’ve Been Dumped – a website full of resources