Not that long ago, I decided to break things off with someone I cared about deeply. At first, I thought the decision would bring me a sense of relief; or, at least, a feeling that I made the right choice. It did, eventually, but the steps leading up to that event led me to feel bouts of loneliness, uncertainty and doubt. After having grown accustomed to the company of someone else, I had to let all of that go and learn to live without them. I had to find myself and reprioritize my needs.
Be it the loss of someone you love or just moving on from any kind of relationship, the process of grieving and unlearning certain habits you had while being with that certain person is no easy feat. From starting to see the situation in a different perspective, to learning how to forgive and let go, we are constantly met with many challenges along the way. Here, I have compiled a few steps that have helped me in my own process—I hope they can help you too.
Talk to someone
The first step for me definitely was talking to someone I trust. While going through hard times, it’s okay to ask for help. The truth is, I really didn’t know how to process all of the emotions I was going through by myself, so I made sure to have at least two people to communicate with and try to slowly figure things out. This step serves as an opportunity to assess what is bothering you and slowly break it apart in order to process your emotions. Also, by talking to someone else, you might be able to look at the situation from a different perspective and gain new insights about the situation that might help you understand it better.
Set boundaries and ask for space if you need it
Personally, I think this is one of the hardest steps, but it’s also one that must be taken as soon as possible. After having a fallout with someone, it’s best to distance yourself from them in order to be more in tune with your feelings and learn to slowly move on. Don’t be afraid to take as much time as you need. Healing is different for everyone, and while it may take others a month or two to get better, for others, it might take them a bit longer.
Now, I’m not saying that you can’t communicate with them ever again. You can, if you think it would be a good decision, but just give yourself some space to think in the meantime. A good option would be to let the other person know that you need some space and make sure they respect your decision by establishing boundaries. Never let them affect how much time you give yourself to step back and heal. It’s your journey, not theirs.
Take necessary breaks
During this time, it is crucial to be gentle with yourself and come to terms with the fact that you might not be as motivated to complete certain tasks. Your mind will naturally wander to thoughts about what happened and you’ll find yourself bummed out most of the time. The sooner you accept that this is totally normal given the circumstances, the better.
In those moments when you feel like you can’t go on with what you’re doing, take a break and cry if you have to. Or, my personal favorite, just take a nap. Do whatever makes you feel better, as long as it’s not detrimental to your wellbeing. Remember to always prioritize your mental health. Always.
Plan out some self-care days
When going through a difficult situation, we might fall into the habit of not taking proper care of ourselves. To combat this, try and plan out a whole day in which you’re the main focus. Prepare a nice warm bath, do your nails (I’m a firm believer in “look good, feel good”), make yourself a hearty meal, and put on your favorite show. You could also invite a friend over and do a spa day together if you think that would get you more motivated. The important thing to take from this is that it’s necessary to take care of yourself, both inside and out.
Let it out: write, write, write
Apart from letting your feelings out by talking to someone, writing works wonders in the process. Write your feelings down and reflect on what hurt you. During this exercise, don’t push back on your emotions, belittle them or ignore them. This is a safe space to express freely and without holding back. The longer we bottle up our feelings, the longer they’ll stay. So it’s necessary to address and begin to understand them.
One idea for this process is to write a letter to the person you fell out with. Write something that, although you might not actually end up telling them, you have to get out of your chest. You could also write a letter to yourself as someone who’s simply comforting another person that went through the same thing you did. Write about what you learned and what you can integrate into your life moving forward. I really believe that everything that happens to us, as messed up as these things may be, serve as valuable lessons in our lives. Try and figure out what lesson the situation is trying to teach you.
Learn to forgive and let go
Remember how I said that setting boundaries is one of the hardest steps during this process? Well, this right here… This is the hardest step. In order to fully let go of all the hurt, we must learn to forgive what can be forgiven and let go of what we can. Warning: this step is different for everyone. Sometimes there are events in our lives that are so traumatizing that we just can’t seem to forgive the person that inflicted so much pain in our lives—and that’s ok. This process is totally up to you and only you get to decide what to let go of.
Having said that, if anything, forgive yourself. Let go of all those limiting beliefs that somehow shift all the blame to you by thinking about where you went wrong (if you actually did something wrong) and figuring out how you can do better in the future. Realize that you are just a human being and we all make mistakes. What’s important is that we own up to our mistakes and ask for forgiveness.
Healing from painful experiences can be a challenging process both mentally and emotionally. It’s a process of deep introspection and coming to terms with hard truths. That’s why it is extremely important to seek out help whenever you need it. Remember, you are not alone in this and, with time, things will get better.