How to move on when you've been blindsided by a breakup
“I think we should break up.”
The words are like a rock being dropped from the top of a well. Shock floods your lungs, and brushes up against your bones, and for a moment, you are certain you are drowning. Everything had been going so great. You two had been planning a trip to the zoo, a fancy dinner was just a few weeks ahead, and you did not see this coming.
Breakups are hard enough when you sense the end is looming, but they are even harder when they are abrupt. You constantly wonder what you did wrong. You ask yourself, How long have they been feeling this way? Why didn’t I see it?
Don’t fall into the trap of constantly asking yourself what you did wrong. Remember, just because someone broke up with you doesn’t mean anything is wrong with you. It doesn’t mean you are a bad person. It doesn’t mean you did anything wrong. Don’t beat yourself up over this person. Instead, use this time to heal. Use this time to get better. Right now your trust and your confidence has been stripped, and you are a baby bird, knotted and grey, small and curled on the floor—but you will not stay there. With time, you will grow. You will regain your strength and go forward. Your body will spin and blaze into turrets. You shall burst into a phoenix. A phoenix, dear friend! You are meant to rise again.
Out of sight, out of mind
He no longer texts you every day. She doesn’t call. He will post Facebook statuses about his soccer game. She’ll post pictures of her favorite sandwich at Panera Bread and tag all of her friends. Even though these things are nothing special, it still feels like a swarm of bees has just erupted in your chest. You will want to keep checking up on them, despite the heartbreak.
Which is why the first step is out of sight, out of mind. You follow them on Instagram? Unfollow. Stalk their tweets? Nope. Still checking up on them on Facebook? Not anymore, my dear. Sending them a text every day? Leaving voice mails? Well, stop it. Pull yourself together, darling! Groveling is not attractive. Clothe yourself in some strength and dignity. I’m not saying you need to stop talking to this person forever, but what I am saying is that you need time to heal. Religiously checking up on them on social media does not help you move on; it only feeds your obsession. Give this person time apart from you. Give them time to miss you. Maybe they will come around and realize you are a sexy hunk of awesome and crawl back; maybe they won’t. Either way, you are starting to move on and it gives you both time to reflect, and that’s the most important thing.
You will quickly realize that just because you’ve shut your ex out of your life for the time being, doesn’t mean it is in any way easy. Each second away from them grows louder and louder. Each second is the tick of a bomb. Your insides feel like a dark room with the light just clicked on, jarring your bones into unwanted shades of yellow. Even though you don’t talk to them, their laughter is still with you and it spreads over everything.
So, naturally, the tempting thing to do is to sit in your bed and watch The Notebook over and over on Netflix. The tempting thing to do is to stuff your face with ice cream, shoveling it as fast as you can into your mouth to freeze what is breaking inside of you.
Don’t do that. Go out, even when you’d rather just sit in your room and dwell on it. Especially if you’d rather just sit in your room and dwell on it. Dwelling on it doesn’t change the situation. You may not be able to change reality, but you can change your attitude. Join some clubs. Hang out with your friends and family, try something you’ve always wanted to do. Maybe your friend Jane has always been inviting you to yoga and you’ve been like, “Psssh, I’m not bendy enough for yoga.” Well, now is the perfect time to get bendy. Pamper yourself. Get a haircut, go buy a new video game. Do things that bring you joy.
Do the next right thing
Do not lean into the storm clouds. Remember, you are meant to rise again. It is tempting to seek revenge or trash-talk your ex. It is easy to feel sorry for yourself. However, that is not the next right thing. The next right thing is to get up, brush yourself off, and do your best every single day. Posting angry statuses about your ex on Facebook or badmouthing them at work only shows how bitter you are. Tweeting sad lyrics is a form of groveling. These things only drag you down and keep you clinging to the past. Take the higher road and keep going. When you are in the middle of something, ask yourself if it is admirable. If it’s not, then stop. Remember, there is going to be a day when you are going to look back on this state you are in right now. You can remember the time you leaned into bitterness and discouragement, or you can remember how you took the higher road and, because of that, were transformed.
You will mess up. You will fall down from time to time. That’s OK. It’s part of being human. The important thing is to keep getting up and doing your best.
Ask yourself: who do I want to be? What kind of person am I looking for? And is the person I’m looking for looking for someone like me? In other words, am I on the path to becoming the right person?
Notice, I did not say, “Am I on the path to finding the right person.” I said becoming.
Look inside yourself. Find out what you need to work on and actually work on it. Maybe you are a bit impatient. Perhaps you’re quick to anger or you need to practice self-control. Maybe being blindsided has left you with trust issues. Use your time of singleness to work on those things right now. Keep working on yourself, even when you do not feel motivated. Realize what you are doing today will impact tomorrow, and by the time you are ready for your next relationship, you will have worked on these issues and become better for it.
Alexandria Baisden is a Hufflepuff studying Fiction Writing at Columbia College Chicago. She was the Managing Editor of Kishwaukee College’s newspaper and won first and second place for her short fiction published in the Kamelian. A fan of puns, Jesus, anime, and coffee, she spends most of her time writing her fantasy novel and getting distracted by fluffy animals on the Internet.