Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Breaking Up Is Hard to Do

Poor Ali and Ali's sister! My heart breaks for anyone going through a bad break-up, but especially to someone who is going through what sounds like a traumatic one: 7 years together, living together and really so much a part of each other's life that it seems like a death in the family when the door closes behind him.

I have flitted in and out of extended periods of singledom and relationship-dom since I was 18. There are definitely pros and cons to both. Definitely!

But you aren't really going to enjoy the pros of being a single gal living it up in Sydney - because of those there are plenty! - without first getting through some tough times.

So. How does one survive this horrible time?

#1 It's not your fault, there is nothing wrong with you and you will most definitely be loved again.
Can I just say that it might be your fault if you cheated or if you are a habitual bed-wetter. These are no-nos in any grown-up relationship! :o)

You guys probably broke up because one or both of you have changed - especially you, Ali's little sister. You were 18-25 with this guy - do you realise how much of you has changed in that time? And now you're working - as a lawyer no less! That is such an amazing achievement! And like it or not, to get to that place you will have changed a lot - it's natural, normal and good on you! Seriously - no one past the age of 20 wants to spend quality time with an 18 yr old.

Whether you realise it or not, both of you guys have made the transition from teenager to student to young adults with amazing careers and life experiences ahead of you. And maybe it's just not right for him anymore. Maybe you've outgrown each other. Whatever it is that has caused things to end are probably not malicious or rooted in meanness - and I'll bet he has suffered a lot coming to this decision. The key thing is that you didn't do anything wrong at all and that there is nothing wrong with you. You are good enough! Don't beat yourself up! And someone who is more in tune with the you of now - and not yesteryear - will see that. And SNAP you up!

The real beauty of this situation (which will admittedly take a little while to realise) is that you have so many great, amazing years ahead of you - I swear the ages 25 onward have been the best of my 20s. In fact, I won't be surprised in a few months time that you don't start to have guilty little feelings of how glad you are that you only have yourself to please right now.

#2 As much as it pains you, it is time to start moving on. ASAP
There is no pleasant way of saying this but ... It's practically impossible to be friends with your ex for quite some time now. And try not to convince yourself that you can be - if you look deep inside yourself, you'll probably find a completely forgivable ulterior motive lurking. Recognise it for what it is and let it go. Don't hurt yourself in this way: the short term gain (which, bluntly is shagging your ex) will just set you back that little further in getting to the happy, single you. Which you will be... But only if you back off the ex for a while. And explain that to him.

This time right now is about looking after you. Bugger him! He can go and talk to his friends for support - not you. You need all the love and support you can get - and it's not going to come from the person who caused you this pain. Chop it off for a little while. Your sane head will thank you.

#3 Sleeping with someone else straight away is not really advisable
Even though ... You know. You get some self-esteem from that. And a bit of satisfaction from the revenge component. Don't go there. It only helps a small part of the population - and most of them are men.

#4 Selfish, Selfish, Selfish
Thank god! Your gym attendance doesn't revolve around when he wants to eat! You are blissfully alone - free to think, say and do as you please! Free to shop like a demon and have endless fashion parades in your new get-up without making excuses! Hurrah! Eat ice cream for dinner, watch 12 episodes of True Blood non-stop, get pedicures and sleep in. This is a fantastic opportunity to get in touch with you - the person who does not have or need a boyfriend around to feel fulfilment, satisfaction or prevent long stretches of boredom. Rarely do we bore ourselves.

#5 Talk It Out
Friends, big sisters - whoever! Just not: your boss, another lawyer (hourly rates can be a killer) or a work colleague who barely knows you at Friday night drinks. Keep it sane and appropriate but talking is great therapy. And on that note - I highly recommend spending some time with a therapist, psychologist or counsellor or whatever. I am always, always, always amazed at their perspective and their ability to drill right down to an issue you had ignored your whole life! They are great. Truly. Don't think you're insane - you just need some help through a difficult situation.

#6 Take time to care for yourself
Whatever it is that makes you happy: reading a book while lying in the sun with a hot chocolate in your hand, sand between your toes, massages, shopping, wandering back alleys (by day). Have plenty of rest, lots of lovely nourishing, healthy food and keep everything in perspective: almost everyone has had their heart broken - and survived. A broken heart is actually a great thing to learn from. It makes us who we are, and every single lesson learnt is precious in its own way. I'm pretty sure you have learnt - the hard way - that someone's heart and their feelings should be handled with care, respect and compassion. You will also learn which of your friends you can truly rely on and trust - very important as you head towards your late 20s and embark on a career where, by necessity, you are forced to prioritise your friendships. Then you will learn the magical lesson that sometimes tequila actually can fix everything (that, and dancing on table tops in strange bars with men dressed as women). All of these lessons are in preparation for someone great to meet you as a whole, happy person: a person who has learnt a lot and has a heart open to goodness and love.

You will be so fine. You clearly have a family who adores you and is feeling your pain every inch of the way. Lean on them when you want to. Talk to people who can help you and have your best interests at heart. Nurture your body, mind and soul. Accept what has happened and try to move on without inflicting much damage on yourself or the remainder of your relationship with him. And be happy. You'll get there! xo

So guys. This is an SOS. How to recover? What are your best break-up tips?


A said...

Oh my God you are truly amazing Rach!!! I'm forwarding this to my sister now. Hopefully it will be something she keeps and can refer back to you - you need to write a book my friend.

This is perfect!! Every word!!


A said...

Rach I just have to let you know how much my sister appreciated this post - I emailed it to her and it was perfect timing. She read it on her blackberry on the bus on her way home and she called me yesterday and told me it put her in the absolute perfect frame of mind to arrive home that evening, and helped her sleep that night. We spoke for about half an hour about it - she is totally getting the right attitude now of realising that she has grown from an 18 year old, and understanding how ridiculous it is that he wants her to still be that 18 year old he met all those years ago, but she knows that she is an adult now, and she wants more than he can give her. I think that outside perspective was just what she needed and she told me to thank you!! She's going to be fine - in time she'll realise that this is for the best, and there is someone totally amazing out there waiting for her!


Rachel said...

Ali I'm so glad it helped! Break ups suck - I feel like I've been through loads of them, and they honestly never get any easier (for the guys you really care about), but it is the same process each time. The only thing that changes is the amount of time it takes to move on.

And yes - it is of course outrageous that he thinks she will be a stagnant human being. He is going to change, so of course so will she! And for the better! Getting older is great (except the physical things, like suddenly developing hips almost OVERNIGHT). Haha.

Good luck to her. I hope she is ok!!