Updated: Sep 2, 2019
Welcome to part two of How I’m Healing from a Break-Up … Sober. Thanks for reading part one. Sharing my story and experiences of going through a break-up was emotionally challenging and quite vulnerable. And it feels important to share as I know there are other gals, perhaps those in an earlier stage of sobriety, who might read this and find value in what I shared.
Below are some of the tools I used to support myself and process my feelings following the break-up. The same tools can easily be used for other challenging, emotional and unexpected life events so feel free to apply these tools liberally and share with friends who may also benefit.
If I was not sober during this ordeal, I know that none of what I’ve listed below would be possible for me. My sobriety is my #selfcare and the foundation of my #wellness that makes everything else possible. Without a solid foundation, it’s hard to imagine journaling, asking for support from my friends or booking therapy appointments. My #sobriety brings me clarity and presence, both of which are entirely necessary in order to deal with the emotions that go along with having your heart broken. As I mentioned in part one of this article, adding booze to an already shitty situation is like begging to make it worse.
Journaling: Don’t Hold All Your Feelings in Your Head or Heart
There has been loads of research conducted on the benefits of #journaling on stress, well-being, emotional intelligence and much more. I resisted journaling for a long time but have found it incredibly and increasingly helpful since starting to journal (admittedly) sporadically over the last few years. The average human has anywhere between 12,000 and 60,000 thoughts per day, which is a lot to keep in your head. If you compound those thoughts with emotional turmoil or upheaval, there’s a lot happening for you mentally and emotionally. I find it incredibly helpful to get my thoughts and feelings out of my head and heart and onto the paper. This practice helps me clarify things, identify patterns and ultimately, process what I’m experiencing. Getting it all out provides immense relief (for me) and feels like a weight has been lifted.
Sit in the Shit
As a wise friend of mine advised early on after the break-up, I should really just sit in my shit. Roll around in it. Feel everything and let these feelings pass through you. Ugly cry. Rage. Scream. Punch a pillow. Just BE in it. I absolutely used to be someone who shoved my feelings down, refused to acknowledge any sadness or live in my feelings authentically, as they were actually happening. I can share from experience of using this technique for years that it’s wildly unsuccessful and that you can either choose to feel and process your feelings as they happen OR they will surface in unexpected and untimely ways, likely catching you off guard, which doesn’t feel good. Either way, they aren’t going anywhere until you process them. Pushing your feelings down or distracting yourself from them only prolongs the inevitable. They have to be dealt with.
Lean on Your People
Do it. They love you. They love supporting you. They can likely offer some helpful perspectives and clarity on the situation. They will shit-talk your ex (if you want that), hold you while you cry, and gently remind you that you’re not always going to feel this way. Be open and lean into them. They will catch you and help peel you off the floor, without judgment.
Be in the Moment
This is especially true right after the relationship ended. Because I was having such a hard time with visualizing my future because of the giant craters in it, I found it was immensely helpful to not get ahead of myself or worry about things that I actually didn’t need to manage in that moment. For example, at one point, I was fixated on being alone over the holidays. This was not something I needed to be concerned with in May/June. I would literally say out loud, to myself, “You don’t have to think about that now,'' which was helpful. Instead, I focused on the things that I needed to be dealt with immediately. In being in the moment, I also gave myself permission to feel my feelings and be #mindful not to distract myself by picking up my phone, turning on and tuning out with Netflix or overly busying myself with social engagements. Yes, lean on your friends for support but don’t use them as your distraction.
Avoid the 3 Ps
I recently read Sheryl Sandberg and Adam Grant’s book “Option B: Facing Adversity, Building Resilience, and Finding Joy”. In this book, they reference the work of psychologist Martin Seligman, a well-known contributor to the field of positive psychology and well-being. In his work, Dr. Seligman writes about the 3 Ps and how they can really stunt one’s capacity to recover and bounce back after an adverse event. The first P is for Personalize, which is when we blame ourselves for what happened and believe we are at fault. The second P is for Pervasiveness, which is the belief that the adverse event will affect all areas of our life. The third P is for Permanence, which is the belief that the aftershocks of the adverse event will last forever. Reminding myself of the 3 Ps has been remarkably helpful after the break-up.
Attitude of Gratitude
I just saw you roll your eyes. Stop that and keep reading. I know gratitude is often overused, perhaps to the point of it losing its meaning but here’s the thing: practicing #gratitude in your daily life is a freakin’ game changer. It helps you gain perspective and shift your #mindset out of the funk that you’re in. There are a whole slew of benefits associated with gratitude including improved mental and physical health, better sleep, better relationships, etc. Gratitude takes only a second to tap into but the impact of that time ripples out over the rest of your day. Even on your shittiest day, I would bet money that you have at least 5 things you’re grateful for. The trick is to reflect on those things and connect emotionally to them. I practice gratitude by using The Five Minute Journal. It starts my day in the proper mindset and ends my day in grateful reflection.
I’m a huge advocate of #therapy. I view it as life maintenance and highly encourage everyone to work with therapists or counsellors where possible (I get that the cost can be utterly prohibitive). Even when you aren’t in a crisis, it’s always helpful to have a trained professional to chat with who can offer helpful insights, make connections and provide a safe space for you to spill your guts and not worry about feeling judged for it.
These tools and practices supported me greatly through what’s been a really challenging time in my life. I started this piece by saying I never thought I’d write this article … and even now, I find myself pausing because I can’t believe this is my life. But that’s because I’m healing, not healed, and it’s a process. #Grief and sadness don’t operate on a schedule (much to my chagrin) and so in being present, clear and tuned in, I deal with them as they come and hope I don’t have to see them again soon. My hope in sharing my story and what I’ve been doing is to provide something that someone out there finds value in. Thanks for reading. Stay tuned for my next - and unofficial third - article in this series on my latest evolution of #healing and #growth: I'm Dating Myself!