Healing the heartache of a breakup

Oh breakups, really no fun at all. It’s a difficult topic to write about because every situation is so unique, yet over time I’ve come to learn a thing or two about the process of letting go. That doesn’t mean that I’m very good at it, and all experiences have their distinct variables, but there are some common threads and discoveries worthy of sharing with you. At the very least, if you’re going through it now, you might feel less alone with your heartache.

 

First of all, even if you’re the one doing the breaking up, that doesn’t make it any easier. You have spent some time opening up, connecting, and being vulnerable emotionally, spiritually, and physically with someone, and suddenly that connection is severed. Where there were phone calls, texts, dates, and moments of intimacy, suddenly there is a blank space. Silence. The beast of loneliness lurks heavily in the corner, and brings with it assaults of fear and sadness.

 

This is where the danger lies. It’s a hard moment to get through and days suddenly feel very long. Your energy is low and your mood is sullen. Even if your feelings were hurt or trust betrayed, you may find yourself dwelling on all the great moments, beautiful experiences, and unrealized potential. The what-ifs start to fly in and you find yourself wanting to reach out to that person, the very person you decisively let go of (or let go of you), to make you feel better, to fill that empty space, to make that awful hurtful sinking feeling go away.

 

Now the break-up back-and-forth ensues. You may reconnect and for a moment, or even some time, feel much better. You can put the nasty feelings aside (i.e. burry them away) and toy with the idea of being back together. Everything feels better when you’re laughing, flirting, kissing, cuddling, and just enjoying each other. How can that be a bad thing? Well, have you worked through any of what brought you to the breakup in the first place, either on your own or with each other? Have you addressed within yourself any of what felt betrayed, rejected, or scarred by the experience? Because the truth is, it is only when you dive deep into the pain that you can come out on the other side with clear eyes and a fresh perspective.

 

Allow me to explain. A couple years ago I did a 10-day silent meditation retreat, during which on day 3 I had a full-blown panic attack. I felt trapped in my head, trapped in the monastery, and judging myself terribly for being in that situation, hating every second of it. I tried and tried to breathe and meditate my way through it, but it only seemed to get worse. As we were silent, I had no one to reach out to for support, no one to help me. By the grace of God it hit me that I had to try another strategy, and that was to fully experience whatever I was experiencing. If I went nuts, the worse that could happen is they’d kick me out (and at that time, I would have welcomed it!).

 

I said to myself (in silence of course), I am having a panic attack. I explored the feelings of fear and anxiety. I turned my attention inward and roamed around my body feeling my racing heart, my clenched stomach, and my clammy skin. Then, without trying, the sensations started to dissipate. I had an image of the anxiety rising up out of me like bubbles, floating out into space. In acknowledging them and allowing for their presence, the panic and anxiety were able to leave, and I was able to get back to my meditation. This brief moment was actually a HUGE discovery for me! I could see so many times in my life when in order to avoid “negative” feelings I would burry them only to find them manifesting in other unpleasant ways. There was no danger in feeling the feeling. In fact, it was the only way to get past it.

 

The same is true for healing the heartache of a breakup. The only chance you really have to move on is to acknowledge your pain, dive into it, explore it, and allow it to work its way through and release. I know it sounds easier said than done, but I have some suggestions for doing it in a way that is loving, healthy, nurturing, and valuable.

 

1)    Feel your feelings. This likely requires taking some serious silent time. How else can you really know what you’re experiencing unless you give yourself the opportunity to feel it? Lie down, breathe, connect with your heart, connect with your stomach. Feel the sensations within. If tears come, let them. If anger arises, scream or punch a pillow. Acknowledge the emotions that are present. Literally say, “I feel sad. I feel angry. I feel hurt.” Whatever it is, let it be felt.

 

2)    Write letters. I am a huge fan of writing as a means of healing, and this is a time when you’re probably having a lot of conversations in your head with your ex that only serve to stir up and stoke the flames of anger and bitterness. Instead, write him/her a letter (or many letters). These are not letters you send! No. No matter how tempted you feel to copy and paste into an email or send an angry stream of text messages, do not. Write how you feel for your own discovery. Explore both sides of the story. Examine how your choices contributed to where you are. Take ownership and responsibility for yourself, without guilt or judgment.

 

These letters are particularly helpful when you feel tempted to go back. If you were the one that left, there is something that drove you to the point of leaving. You might be shoving that out of your psyche to dull the pain of the breakup. The only way to gain clarity on what you really want is to explore it, and putting pen to paper helps change the continuous loop in your head into a real dialogue with your heart and soul. Chances are you will see that the reasons it didn’t work out were valid, and you don’t need to turn back just to avoid the pain of letting go. If you do go back, you will do so from a place of strength and clarity, rather than one of loneliness and insecurity.

 

3)    Make note of what you learned. This is a really important step! What is the point of going through it if you’re not learning and growing? What did you learn about yourself in this relationship? What did it reveal to you about your past experiences and any baggage you’re holding on to? What do you now know is important to you moving forward? This is not about placing blame or judgment; it’s about observing truths and getting to know yourself better. If you find yourself in similar situations over and over again, there’s some important healing that needs to take place and learning that needs to be internalized. The Universe is showing you the way.

 

4)    Be in your body. Though you may be temped to completely shut down, lie on the couch, and zone out on bad TV, make sure to peel yourself away here and there for some movement and body work. I am a firm believer that our bodies hold our emotions, memories, and incredibly important messages. Moving your body (particularly in ways that find enjoyable and fun) and receiving massage opens your channels of energy, allows blockages to be released, and aids in the overall healing process.

 

5)    Surrender it all to God. The emotional weight of a breakup can be really intense, and you might literally feel as though you’re dragging yourself around for a little while. A beautiful exercise is to sit in nature and surrender all of what you’re going through, your confusion, your anger, your fear, your love, your disappointment, to God, the Universe, Mother Nature, or whatever your leanings. The other day I went to the beach and gave everything to the ocean. It felt good. I felt lighter.

82 ocean

 

6)    Don’t rush it. Breakups are a process. If you’re in the back-and-forth, if you’re in the untangling, be compassionate with yourself. If you are down in the dumps and feel stuck, by all means reach out for help. But please know, you have permission to be sad, you have permission to be angry, and you have permission to not be at the absolute top of your game all the time. For some, everything I mentioned above may take a few days, for others, a few months. It depends on you, it depends on the relationship, it depends on what you need in that moment. Be kind to yourself, and love yourself through it all.

 

As with most things in life, it all comes down to self-love and self-care. Healing the heartache of a breakup is an opportunity to be extra kind to you and to grow as a person. If you take some time to feel your pain and move through it with love rather than judgment, criticism, or resistance, you can then really open up to the possibilities of what you do want to bring into your life. Letting go creates space for new love, new energy and new opportunities to enter.

 

Take action now:

1)    Share in the comments below how this resonates with you. How do you heal from the pain of a breakup?

2)    If you find yourself needing an ally in the self-care department, checkout my Feel Good Goddess program HERE. I can help.

 

Take care of your heart.

 

Love, Sash

Published by Sasha Marie Stone

Happiness Engineer at Automattic, work-from-home wellness expert, life coach, and dog mom.

6 thoughts on “Healing the heartache of a breakup

  1. Hello Beautiful girl,

    Yet again you have your finger on the pulse of my life….I am very much navigating this space right now in my life. Simultaneously my father is dying and my daughter is leaving for college…..Apparently I have no aptitude for doing things one at a time. Sigh.

    I just came across this incredible quote that made my hair stand on end and I wanted to share it with you.

    “When I get lonely these days, I think: So BE lonely, Liz. Learn your way around loneliness. Make a map of it. Sit with it, for once in your life. Welcome to the human experience. But never again use another person’s body or emotions as a scratching post for your own unfulfilled yearnings. ” -Elizabeth Gilbert-

    Love you Sash

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    1. Wow, that is so powerful Jodeen! And wouldn’t ya know, I’m reading an amazing novel by Elizabeth Gilbert right now. A beautiful work of fiction (haven’t read fiction in so long, love it). Sounds like a very intense transition for you my friend. I know, like me, you enjoy your alone time, but even us solitary beings can be painfully haunted by loneliness. I am here for you my darling. xo

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  2. I also had a panic attack during my first meditation retreat! Incidentally, at the time, I was going through the aftermath of several heartbreaks, and learning to sit still with all that painful emotion was the best thing I could have done for myself. I came out the other side with a much larger perspective. That doesn’t mean I was “over it,” but it was an important step on the path. I would also add that this path included engaging in plenty of unfortunate behavior and making some poor choices. Healing can be a messy process. But we all go at our own pace, right? 🙂

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    1. Yes!! Exactly, it is a messy process and I certainly don’t know anyone that does it entirely with “healthy” choices. Part of the healing and the learning is being in the messiness. Thanks for sharing Patty, and for your honesty. I can absolutely relate.

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  3. Last year was such a turbulent year as you know. I went from my five year break up, to dating one guy to another where neither one was good for me. I didn’t realize how “busy” I had been, till a girl friend pointed out that I hadn’t had time to fully process one guy experience to the next. I think one guy would be another coping mechanism for the last. Sure there were fun times, and I really liked each guy but I didn’t really have time to just “be” me. I didn’t fully process the pain and hurt coming from each relationship. I was so afraid to “feel” my feelings sometimes that it’s taken me a long time to get over it. Yes, after my break up that was ultimately hard – yes a lot of tears and panic attacks would happen. That one I felt every single day for months. I actually had to schedule times I could cry into my day.

    When it came to the last two guys though shorter term, I think b/c I felt like I had cried enough for two years worth I didn’t do it as much. It’s not to say I didn’t feel it because I definitely did. I think I pushed it aside though, and focused on something else like my solo performance for the holiday party. Though it was a great and empowering distraction, it still didn’t mean I fully processed everything. I I thought I did until it bit me in the ass this year, so here I am still processing lol. I should have done it earlier on and really given myself permission to do so. Why do we let time dictate how much time we should have? I think that’s when processing becomes harder, when we ourselves think “I thought I’d be over this by now.”

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    1. Absolutely, it’s impossible to tell how much time it’s going to take, or “should” take. Definitely don’t beat yourself up about the ways you may have been distracting yourself either, it was all part of your healing process one way or another. Celebrate the awareness you have now as a result, rather than judging your timing. You are doing great!! Thanks as always for sharing yours story 🙂

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