Get over it! That’s the inspired piece of advice I received from my friends and family.
Spoiler alert! It didn’t work.
Though the people around me meant well, they were blissfully ignorant.
However, it was not blissful for me.
They kept pushing me to put on a fake smile. And it was not helping. I would say it was making things worse.
On the 5th of January of 2018, my then-girlfriend got engaged (not with me). But there was a minor issue here. She failed to inform me about it. It was not like we were not in touch, or we fought.
We celebrated the new year’s eve together in my apartment. Later, when I received the news from a common-friend, she explained how she was under parental pressure and didn’t want to hurt me.
Long story short, I respected her decision.
I wished her well for her future.
And I refused to forgive her (it wouldn’t make any difference to her anyway).
As you can imagine, the incident shattered me. But at least I had my friends and families. They would understand and support me through it. Right?
Wrong! Their general attitude towards my situation worsened my mental state even farther. It was feeling like I am committing some crime by having those feelings of agnostic grief.
I kept hearing, “Everything will be okay. Be positive!”
But I knew better than that. I knew the dangers of toxic positivity. Therefore, I was adamant about my decision to stay true to my natural feelings. I chose not to suppress them. I faced them instead of running from them.
It wasn’t fun or easy. But it was necessary.
Fast forward to now, I not only survived my post-breakup trauma, but I’m a better version of myself. Now, I have quite a clear perspective on life, things, people, most importantly, myself.
1st Step: Took A Break For A Year
It was hard, but I kept myself from rushing into another relationship right away.
I was mature enough not to go by my instincts at that time. I knew I was not in the right condition for anyone to make life-altering decisions.
I felt desperate to fill the void. But I knew it was not the right time.
And even if I got myself into a relationship, what next? It would be using someone to get over my one insecurities. Also, what about the person on the other end? She would have nothing to do with my miserable state.
For all, I knew she could be an innocent girl hoping for a relationship.
I didn’t have the right to break someone else just because I was melancholic.
So I took a break from dating for a year.
How it benefited me:
- By giving myself a year of a clean slate, I not only kept myself from hurting someone, but I also got ample time to work on my mental health.
- Taking a break did let me come in terms of being alone. Consequently, I had all the time I needed to know myself better.
- Practicing patience (even going against my instincts) gave me power. Now I was controlling my emotions (like I should) instead of letting it control me.
2nd Step: Stopped Playing The Victim Card
During that time, I talked to a lot of people. I visited three different psychologists within a month.
Upon talking to them and my friends(while hearing the same story I was shooting over and over), I realized something.
I played the victim.
And everyone was playing along.
Then I remembered something even interesting.
When our relationship started, she broke up with a guy she dated for ten years, playing the victim at the time. And I was playing along, sympathizing with her in the process.
Chances were, the very moment I was ranting about the breakup to my therapists, she had been doing the same. Notice the pattern here? In these situations, we tend to play the victim, whether we know it or not.
For example, suppose John just had an ugly breakup with his long-time girlfriend, Jannette. Now they both came across a meme online, like this one.
Now when John sees the meme, he subconsciously projects Jannette as the piece of shit and himself to be the victim of her. On the other hand, when Jannette sees it, she does it the other way around.
Our self-preserving instincts pull all the strings here. There is only one cure to this victimhood paradox. And what is that? That will be objectivity.
How objective thinking (instead of a victim mindset) helped me:
- Upon revisiting the events of our relationship with an objective outlook, I discovered several of my blunders. I was unaware of them previously, as I was too busy condescending myself. No, I didn’t deserve to get cheated because of those mistakes. So it didn’t bring any closure. But at least, I could better myself.
- Among those mistakes, one of the most important was to ignore all the red flags I saw at the very beginning.
- The moment I realized how pathetic I sounded whining about the breakup even months after, it gave me a sense of freedom to move on.
- It changed my overall attitude towards life. After this, I paid little to no attention to the things happening to me. Instead, I was always laser-focused to find the solution.
3rd Step: Make Over
I was not into grooming before. Now, I am. After the breakup, I completely changed my look and posture.
Hold on there! I didn’t break my bank doing this. On the contrary, I started becoming more cautious about what I wear. It helped me shrink down my spending on clothing items. Earlier, I used to own a pile of things I rarely wore. Now I buy fewer value-for-money items. As a result, my wardrobe is more focused, valuable, yet lighter. The best part is, now I spend less and look better.
How looking better helped me to regain my mojo:
- Having a proper haircut and beard trim made me feel better. I would look into the mirror and see a more organized version of myself.
- Owning fewer but better pieces of attire made me feel and look reacher than I was. It shaped my mind into that of a wealthy person, compelling me to do better for myself.
- Looking more professional and sure of myself helped me shine in my career even when I was in the process of recovering.
- Getting some eyeballs on me whenever I visited a public place, function or gathering felt pretty good.
- I successfully pulled off the fake-it-till-you-make-it tact to my advantage.
[Note: Don’t get addicted to shopping. The last thing you want after your breakup is to end up broke.]
4th Step: Feeding The Mind Well
All these times, I had been feeding my mind well.
No, I didn’t go on watching Twilight movies or reading self-help books to pull myself out of my misery.
Instead, I read real literature and experienced cinematic masterpieces to elevate my soul to a newer level of consciousness.
I revisited a few pieces like Great Expectations, Macbeth, Riders of The Sea, and Heart of Darkness.
I also studied some new ones that I had not read before, such as The Secret Sharer, The Essential Rumi, Sapiens, and The Hungry Tide.
Besides, the collection of poetries from the romantic era in the shape of Lyrical Ballads healed my mind with pure inspiration.
I also watched quite a few good movies. Those being The Pursuit of Happyness, The Shape of Water, It Comes at Night, Your Name, and Blade Runner 2049. I was honestly taken aback by the visual excellence achieved in the last two movies.
But it was not until I watched The Peaceful Warrior I found a tool to rediscover the meaning of my life — reevaluate my priorities.
The time I spent reading and re-reading these pieces of literary works and watching these cinematic gems were the best times I had in years.
They boosted me with inspirations, taught me to celebrate all aspects of my life, being truthful and accepting of all my feelings.
5th Step: Being A Total Goofball
All the steps until now were productive and self-improving. This one, on the other hand, is downright silly.
I got tired more than often perfecting myself to be a better version of myself.
It is boring to be mature, calculative, and introspective all the time. Where’s the fun in that?
So I entertained the child in me whenever I could.
I would do some silly dance, make faces in the mirror, will make weird noises when no one is watching.
I would even engage in comments war on Facebook frequently, just for the fun of it (bar fights are too dangerous, and I don’t drink).
This habit of mine helped me a lot to vent out all the feelings of anxiety, keeping me up all night. As a result, being a total goofball in private allowed me to sleep like a baby.
The Bonus Step: Got A Pet
Last but not least, I adopted a stray dog around eight months after the breakup.
I didn’t do it for emotional support or anything. I did it because the puppy needed me.
A car ran over her — the driver didn’t bother to stop. I took her to the vet and brought her home without giving it a proper thought.
And before I knew it, she was part of the family.
- Having a pet is not an easy task. It challenges you to be more responsible as a human. You not only show this sense of responsibility towards your pet but also towards the people who might have phobia or allergy to your new friend. It truly makes you put others before you.
- Playing with my pawed friend or taking her to walk boosted my metabolism.
- I started to socialize more, thanks to her.
- Let’s not forget about the PAWsitivity they bring to our lives.
And by following these steps, I recovered from my post-breakup anxiety.
However, it still hurts thinking of the phase.
And it’s okay.
Life keeps wounding us as we move forward in our journeys. Sometimes, it breaks us for good.
It is only by accepting reality and finding a way to thrive with it we can find our solace.
Previously published on medium
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