Q: Why does my break-up hurt so badly? What should I do?
A: Firstly, the pain of a relationship that has moved on sucks. I've been there. Most of us have. Your pain is REAL.
Simply put: your break-up hurts because it mattered to you. Whether it was the best relationship you’d ever had, or there were more bad moments than good… there was something in that relationship that was meaningful and wanted by you.
A break-up is kind of like a loss in this way. It doesn’t matter if you ended the relationship or the other person did… there is something about your daily routine, your expectations, your future...that is a bit different now. And that hurts. As it should. I think the pain means that you tried. That you invested. That you laid your heart on the line for the sake of a hopeful future together. Good for you; that’s something truly courageous.
Physiologically, emotional hurt such as this can manifest in your body as a change in your sleeping patterns, aches and pains, loss of appetite, and low motivation. Your mind might be racing or it may be moving in slow motion. You may find it difficult to do simple tasks. It may come in waves - some days you are perfectly content, and others, you are surprised by random bursts of sadness.
People recover in different ways. I don’t know exactly what will help you - but I can make some suggestions to keep you occupied as the magic of Time does its work.
Unfollow them. Your significant other. Stop following their social media accounts or any other avenue that you get consistent updates on their activities. Have photos of you two together? When you’re ready, remove them from your room or phone. You’ll know when it’s time. Text messages that you keep revisiting? Delete them. The cute voicemails too. Each time you revisit these markers of the past, you’ll be slowing your healing and creating a romanticized ideal in your mind of where the relationship could be right now. If it ended, it ended for a reason.
Go outside. If you’re reading this in a season where the weather is gorgeous, spend some time soaking in the sun’s rays, hearing the birds chirp, and smelling the scent of the air. It’s natural medicine. If the weather is rainy or a bit cooler, get out of your usual stomping grounds (i.e. no shutting yourself up in the bedroom or living room) and visit a different location. A coffee shop or library might be some good places to check out.
Rediscover an interest. It’s time. What is one thing that you enjoy doing, that gets your gears turning and your heart pumping? For me, it’s bachata. Beautiful art form, dance and skill. I love it; it gets me out of my head. Maybe you enjoy crocheting or hiking or rock climbing or karaoke...whatever your thing is, go get it. At least once a week, if you can.
Don’t worry about tomorrow. Don’t worry about your future right now. You have this moment, today, safely in your hands. Do what you need for right now to take care of yourself. Please, take care of You.