“It’s over. We’re not an item anymore. And please don’t call.
I’ve blocked you on Skype, blocked your number on my phone, blacklisted your email, closed my Facebook account and blocked you on Whatsapp. I don’t wanna hear from you again.”
It was 6am and I couldn’t believe I was waking up to this message. The love of my life was giving me the boot, before confirming it later with a tirade of senseless messages. But you know what?
- Hurt people hurt people.
- She wasn’t the love of my life.
Before I got to that conclusion, I went through an abysmal depression, a flirt with suicide and a journey of healing and restoration. It took some time. That journey ended with me meeting my amazing wife, who in a million ways is better than what I could have ever imagined.
If you think that no one else could understand you like the one who just tore your heart, or that nothing in the future could compare to what you both had, you’d be wrong.
Given the right mindset, you will meet and enjoy better that what you had. Before that, you will have to heal from this thing you’re feeling right now.
Which is why I’m gonna share with you some of the things I learned and wrote as I clawed my way out of depression back then.
Keep an open mind as you read, and remember that it gets better.
Section 1: Understanding Your Break Up
Lecture 1: Can you define it?
A very famous Chinese general once said that no victory can be achieved without knowing the battleground. His name was Sun Tzu. And this principle applies to relationship break ups. You’re gonna wanna know the field you’re getting into.
Can you please grab a toothpick? Hold it in both hands and break it. If you did it right, you should be able to see what was on the inside of it. That’s part of what this break up will do for you.
- It’s an opportunity to discover yourself, to see what you’re made of.
- It’s a crack in your life, which you could fill with gold or use to shine light unto others.
- It’s a turning point in YOUR Hero story, where you could either choose to sink or swim.
- And it is an end point. One thing common to every end point is that they are the starting point of something else.
What that something else will be for you is your choice.
The difference between those who get back up after a break up and those who remain stuck, lies in what they each decided to make of it.
Imagine yourself 3 years from now, totally healed from this pain. Imagine you’ve become exactly who you wanted to become, and that I gave you a call. How would you answer these questions?
– At what time did you wake up this morning?
– What did you do first?
– Was there someone by your side? Who’s that person to you?
– Are you happy with your life?
– What do you do during the day?
– Do you and that person have something planned this evening, or are you having dinner at home?
You get the gist. Until you have a clear definition of the future you’re aiming for from here, you may never reach it.
Be clear with what you want.
Lecture 2: How long will this pain last?
Let me answer with a short story. When I was a kid, I remember asking the nurse who bandaged my injured toe nail how long it would take for it to grow back. She told me that if I stopped:
- Poking it,
- Taking it out to play before it was healed,
- and leaving it unprotected.
….she could promise that my healing would take long.
I’m gonna promise you the same. That your pain is temporary, but could last longer if you keep :
- Poking the wrong souvenirs and beating yourself up with guilt,
- Taking your heart back out there before it has fully healed,
- And letting it open to sour opinions.
Otherwise, it will take the time it should.
Lecture 3: Why did your ex-partner leave?
I knew my ex-partner didn’t just leave for the reasons she mentioned. But her phone rang busy, my emails weren’t delivered and she was invisible in all my social networks. So there was no way for me to know more.
If you can ask your ex why he/she left and have an answer, good for you.
For the vast majority in the dark, I have this to say: Most breakups are the last drop in a cup that took time to fill. They’re not spontaneous. Whether you got the hints before it happened or not, you’re likely here because not much was done about them.
Despite your strongest instinct, do not beg for an explanation.
The majority of explanations that come after the fact do more harm than good. In my case, one of the explanations I got was that maybe I was “too sensitive”. Considering how long it took for me to open up emotionally in the first place, that explanation hurt.
A female friend of mine got this explanation: “You fall sick too often. I don’t want those genes in our future kids.”
After you’re dumped, your ex’s gloves come off. Don’t seek the stick to beat your own self with. In due time you will come to realise why your relationship fell apart, but for that to happen quicker, you may have to settle with not knowing why you got tossed. They’re two different things.
For now focus on you, and on WHY your NEXT partner would want to stay.
Lecture 4: Why did your ex break up with you in such a harsh way?
Because hurt people hurt people.
Because insensitive people hurt people.
Because immature people hurt people.
If someone’s goal was to harm you, would that person poke you with a feather or a nail?
Your ex had your heart, your trust. The most sensitive parts of you. Doesn’t it make sense that if his purpose was to hurt, he’d target those first? Now as far as the reason WHY he’d choose to hurt you in the first place goes, it could be any of the reasons above.
You have the right to be hurt, mad, and even angry. But for the length of this post, do you mind if I ask you to forgive? I want you to do that so we can focus on you.
Until we focus all the why’s of this event in your life on you, you may miss the growth opportunities that this moment offers you. Let’s not let that happen ok?
Lecture 5: Should you contact him again?
It’s entirely your choice, but I wouldn’t if I were you.
Parting from romantic love is like stopping to use drugs. No matter how much the withdrawal sucks, you won’t get clean by using more of the same drug.
In the short run you may feel good by hearing your ex’s voice again, but it will do more harm than good in the long run. So step back. Please.
Your mountain will look way smaller once you step away from it.
Lecture 6: Will he come back?
I spent the first few months after my breakup hoping for my ex to return. I thought she was the best I’d ever had, and frankly, I wondered if I could ever get something like us again.
While many have come back after years apart, the fact is that the majority of broken unions never return to their original form. Initially you will hang onto the belief that what you had was so special that this person will miss it and come back, but eventually you’ll have to make a choice between hoping for the clock to turn backwards or accepting that it only runs in one direction.
Your future is ahead of you, not behind.
Your best days are ahead of you, not behind.
The fact that you’re facing this situation is a testament to your ability to handle it, because you know what? Problems tend to gravitate around their solution. You’re not weak by yourself. And you’re not worthless without this person.
Will she come back? Maybe, maybe not.
Like I previously said, a much better thought to focus on is WHY your FUTURE partner, whoever that may be, will want to stay. If this partner happened to be your ex again, will he/she wish to be with the exact same person he/she left in the first place?
Let’s work on you.
Section 2: Let’s Prepare You For Healing
Away with the old
Would you serve a great meal on a dirty plate? No.
We’re not gonna do that with you either. Before we can fill your heart with anything new, we’ll have to get rid of the old. We’ll have to find and discard the things in your mind, you body and your spirit that have prevented you from being the very best version of you:
The version of you that anyone would regret to ever throw away.
Lecture 7: Silence the memories you shared
Every thought, every memory produces a physiological response that can make you smile, frown, do things or keep you where you shouldn’t be.
You’re probably thinking a lot about your ex right now. And if you were the one left in the environment that was once your piece of heaven, it’s even worse.
You pass in front of that restaurant and remember when your first dined there, your playlist has ‘your song’ on repeat, and the teddy he offered you still smells like back then.
While I understand that you can’t do much about some of the places you both called yours, the truth is that if you continue to feed your mind with the images of the good times you shared, it will keep your heart and body in a place where they’re still available to your ex and unavailable to the possibilities around you right now.
In other words, if you do not allow the new void in your heart to exist, there will be no void to fill (with a better version of you).
So don’t actively try to remember anything. Let those memories die.
If you agree that better is possible,
If you’re curious about what that better could look like,
If you want to see what your heart and life could produce if they had permission to,
- Locate all your ex’s pictures. Delete them or keep them away from sight.
- Remove the songs you both enjoyed from your playlists and bookmarks.
- Buy different brands when you go to the store.
- When possible, use routes that do not pass where you often both went to.
Some people will cry wolf; they’ll say you’re shrinking your life for someone else. See it as stepping back to leap higher. Or letting go to let God.
I promise you that none of it is going to be easy. But I also promise you that it will be worthwhile. Take it a day at a time.
Lecture 8: Flip your house upside down, then shake it sideways
Moves tables, take down posters, buy new furniture, redo the garden, do something. But don’t let your surroundings look the same.
Do this, to reduce the number of anchors your mind could use to revive your past (stir your wounds) while you heal. In moments like now, good memories are like mirages of water in the desert. The kind of ones you rush to, only to realise you’re not drinking but rather licking sand.
Don’t lick sand. Change your surroundings.
Lecture 9: Enhance your physical appearance
When you look into the mirror, whether you like it or not, your own mind judges you. Like it would anyone else on the street.
By improving what your eyes look into the mirror each day, you reinforce the signal that says: “Things are getting better, this person is healing, he/she’s growing, soaring and reaching his/her best potential.”
That’s why you should strive to improve the way you look during this period. Not out of pettiness, not for other people, but for your own beautiful self. In other words, look better so you can help your mind help you.
And to do this, you could start by using any of these 2 resources:
They’re both health/sport resources.
As far as your clothing goes, a good start would be to look on the outside like who you wish to be on the inside. Take this opportunity to redefine yourself.
Before I close: Is there someone you’ve looked up to in the past regarding the way they dress? What did you appreciate about their appearance? Guess what? If you wanted to dress like them today, no one would stop you.
Section 3: Healing begins here
So far we’ve dealt with very physical things. We’ve looked where the eyes could see, discarded the things that could distract you in your healing journey and made you dress appropriately for the next step. In this next step, we dive to the depths of your heart, where hopefully your healing will happen.
Lecture 10: Talk to God
On the heel of my breakup I fell asleep every night not sure if I wanted to wake up the next morning. When the sun rose I was anxious about facing my thoughts. And at night I was anxious about everything. When people were around, I felt so lonely and sad that all I wanted was to disappear. I hid in public bathrooms, shamefully, and quietly sobbed.
More than my eyes, my spirit was sore.
I had been harshly rejected by the person whom I thought appreciated all my worth, so understand if I say I felt like dirt. Eventually, I reached a point where I had nothing left in me to resurface from the depths my mind had gone to.
In a desperate effort to exist again, I remember whispering through tears: “God, help me.” It was all the words I had, and the most intelligent prayer my broken heart could put together at that time.
Well, in time God did just that: He helped me a little thing at a time till all those little things amounted to my big healing.
Wether you believe in a Divine power or not, you certainly see the sense in seeking a spiritual solution to a spiritual problem.
If you would dare put your hurt and heart in God’s hands, He will turn them around for you. As he saying goes, He’ll turn you scars into stars.
If you agree that you lose nothing by being loved,
If you agree that it sucks to carry all this pain by yourself,
If you’re ok with offloading some or all of it,
Then on a piece of paper write the following and paste them somewhere visible:
– I am fearfully and wonderfully made (Psalm 139:14)
– God loves me with an everlasting love; He draws me with loving-kindness. He will build me up again and I will be rebuilt. (Jeremiah 31:3-4)
– My God takes hold of my right hand and tells me, Do not fear; I will help you. (Isaiah 41:13)
Talk to God. With no filter and no shame, let Him know exactly how you feel and what you want. He numbers your tears and will ultimately turn this situation around for your good.
Lecture 11: Start a journal
I heard a simple but powerful story one day. A man and his wife sat in a boat, telling jokes while the current slowly dragged them away from where they wanted to be. Upon realising what was happening, they quickly picked up their rows and made their way back to their corner of the beach.
Right now, your emotions are like a sea current. They will drift your life away from where you want it to be if you allow them.
To row in the right direction, use your pen. Keep a journal.
A journal will help you:
- Monitor your healing progress
- Understand yourself
- Shine light on your mistakes
- Design your future
- Let your frustrations out before you act on them
- Shine light on your awesomeness
There’s more. But for where you are that’s all it needs to be.
A/ Here’s How To Journal
3 types of media I recommend:
I. Paper Journaling:
Find an empty book or start with the empty pages at the back of a book you do not use.
Pros: It’s cheap
– You misplace it, it’s gone
– You can’t carry it everywhere
II. Electronic Journaling:
You still write, but with your computer.
1. If Online:
- Go to evernote.com
- Open a free account
- Create your first note (When you fill the title, remember to use the word “Journal” in your tags)
2. If Offline:
- Create a new folder (right click –> New Folder)
- Name it ‘Journal’
- Open your computer’s note program (“Notepad” for Windows, “Notes” for Mac)
- Save the empty file using the format ‘Journal – Month year’ (For example, ‘Journal – September 2016’)
Pros: Accessible everywhere, hard to misplace.
Cons: The online format could be a problem if internet access is scarce where you live.
III. Video journaling:
I have videos of me crying, smiling and finding answers after my heartbreak. There will be no better testimony of your evolution through this phase than videos of it. Although the appeal of this format is real, I recommend you mix it with one of the 2 above. Video alone won’t cut it, but it will help a lot. Especially if you’re at a place in your life where you do not have many people to talk to yet.
And you know what? This is the only format that will allow you to improve your speech at the same time. How’s that for double-for-your-trouble?
So how do you do it:
- On Mac: Open Photobooth. Press record.
- On Windows: Any free video software will help.
Pros: All of the above + When you see these vids after you’re healed, you’ll tear up
Cons: Uses a lot of computer memory
B/ What’s The Best Time In The Day To Journal ?
At the end of the day, after you’ve gone through the motions and want to offload. Or early in the morning, to set the tone for the rest of your day. I do both.
C/ Things You Can Write In Your Journal
Your journal is yours and no one can fill it better than you. The following are just suggestions. The more you write, the better you’ll understand what works for you.
Typically, you can start with these:
– Your prayers
– Your hopes
– A full recount of your relationship (it will shine light on the things you missed)
– Letters you wish you could send (but shouldn’t send)
– Your daily affirmations (more below)
– Your successes
– The things you’re grateful for
– A recount of your day and the things you learned
– Personal stories or those you come across
Lecture 12: Practise Daily Affirmations i.e Self Talk
Making daily affirmations is agreeing that you are what God made you to be, regardless of whether you feel that way or not.
They work in 2 ways:
- They increase your awareness of the things that will lead you to become everything you’ve declared.
- They provide your mind with the instructions of what reality to exhibit in your physical body.
It works because your mind can’t work against your own words and because you often exhibit only one reality at a time. You’re never happy and sad at the same second or full and hungry.
So think of what reality you’d like to exhibit and write it down. Then every morning, preferably in front of a mirror, say them to yourself in the present tense.
These 2 resources will help:
Finally, remember that even as far as the Bible days, God urged the weak to say they were strong (Joel 3:10), for a reason.
This successful practise is old as time. Give it a try.
Lecture 13: Find a shoulder to lean on
Every time I called my mom and bounced my fears on her during that period, they bounced back as something else: Hope.
Each conversation brought more healing.
You’ll need someone like that. Someone who will remind you of the good person you were, are, or can be; someone who will take off a little bit of your load, and inspire you to keep walking till you reach the end of this unfortunate tunnel.
Now the mistake we all make is to sometimes reject those who want to help because we think they don’t have the right experience or haven’t “seen what we’ve seen.”
I want you to look reconsider that idea completely. Think of the friend who steps out of the car to tell you how to park in rear…
Does she see exactly what you see? Is she in your shoes? No. She has a completely different perspective from you! Which is exactly what makes her advice so valuable in that moment.
Not everyone in your life needs to be in your shoes to give you the right support for this heartbreak. Don’t let your difference in perspective stop you from seeking an ear to confide in.
Give someone a chance to become that person for you. If the first person you approach fails you, try someone else.
Lecture 14: Pick up new activities/ hobbies
The longer most relationships go, the more we tend to let ourselves go.
A year into mine I stopped reading, playing soccer and a couple of other activities just to spend more time with her. Of course, what I didn’t nurture died a little each day and I stopped being the vibrant person she had met.
I wouldn’t be surprise if you story kinda went the same.
The beauty with having more time to yourself now is that you have this unique opportunity to redesign who you are. Who have you always wanted to be? What have you always wanted to try? Or start? You have a chance to do them now.
By undertaking new challenges and acquiring souvenirs outside the realm of your past relationship, 4 things will happen:
- You will stop looking at that past relationship as the pinnacle of your happiness.
- Your confidence in your ability to face adversity by yourself will grow.
- As success begets success, your newfound courage will lead most parts of your life to experience growth.
- You will attract people and experiences that were previously out of your reach.
And eventually become your best self.
So pick a new activity, or an old one and have fun.
You can so do it.
Lecture 15: Try new sensory experiences
Have you seen those Youtube videos of kids tasting lemon or swimming for the first time? The expression on their faces is priceless! For some you can tell that although they have no idea what’s going on, this thing is coooool.
Part of growing is having your senses touched in a way they’ve never been touched before.
For the sake of this growth period in your life, stretch your senses. Widen your horizons. The more you grow, the more you understand others and the more you can love again. Here are some things you can try:
- Listen to ASMR audios (listen with a headset and your eyes closed)
- Do a mud runner
- For a week, eat dishes you have never tried before
- Attend a laughing class
- Get your first massage
- Bungee jump. Or any extreme sport.
Let me close with this beautiful explanation on why you should seek growth:
“If you pour a handful of salt into a cup of water, the water becomes undrinkable. But if you pour the salt into a river, people can continue to draw the water to cook, wash, and drink. The river is immense, and it has the capacity to receive, embrace, and transform. When our hearts are small, our understanding and compassion are limited, and we suffer. We can’t accept or tolerate others and their shortcomings, and we demand that they change. But when our hearts expand, these same things don’t make us suffer anymore. We have a lot of understanding and compassion and can embrace others. We accept others as they are, and then they have a chance to transform.”
– Thich Nhat Hanh
Lecture 16: Give Back
The best way to learn is by teaching and the best way to receive is to give.
You’ll make everything you learn during this period permanent by helping those around and behind you. And sometimes, when you think you have it bad, giving will help you realise how much you have.
I am giving back to you now, like someone else gave to me.
Before you, I also gave back through charities and many one-on-one interactions around me. Uplifting others uplifted me. And I’d love for you to turn to those people in your reach and continue the chain.
Noteworthy resource: www.7cupsoftea.com
When I got tossed I bought into the idea that love hurts. So I kept the doors to my heart closed.
In reality, love doesn’t hurt. It’s the misuse of love that hurts, just like the misuse of food can kill.
This situation you find yourself in will not be around forever. It will subside and die, and become an inflection point in the stories you tell. While you heal, keep your heart open to love. It exists and is one of the most beautiful things you’ll ever know.
I know because I married my perfect match after this entire episode.
During your healing process, sometimes, you will fall. You may even call your ex back. If or when you do, remember that falling is an event and not a person. Get up and try again.
Give yourself enough grace to learn slowly. Don’t go dating again until you’re healed. You will know when you are. As time goes by, you will think less and less about that person.
This entire event will somehow play a role in your future. It’s only when you get there that you’ll understand why it had to happen.
Once you’re strong enough, be the shoulder others cry on. As you received, give back.
You will love and be loved beautifully again. For now, rediscover the love God has for you.
Your best is ahead of you.
You’ve got this.
-Have a great life.