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Roaring 20s: How to handle a break-up (for real)

I recently received a parcel from The Iconic to add to the packed boot of my car, already filled with so many shopping bags I could have drowned in the plastic. But I wasn’t happy. Finding myself suddenly alone after a break-up as a twenty-something, nursing a broken heart and taking solace in my shoe collection, I came to the realisation that I was seeking comfort in all sorts of weird and wonderful ways. The shoes weren’t enough.

I am not normally one to take to social media to vent her soul’s deepest, darkest thoughts, but as I Googled endless self-help articles, flicked through Cosmopolitan and drank multiple bottles of wine, it became clear: The article I was looking for did not exist. So I decided to write it myself: THE ROARING 20s – Surviving the Seemingly Non-Survivable.

Some of you may remember an article I wrote for 5Why ‘Good Guys VS Bad Guys VS Everyone Else’. In this article I spoke of The Man and how I had found my own. It’s funny how life throws you curveballs where one moment you’re in a state of bliss, and the next you’re listening to Natalie Imbruglia’s ‘Torn’, crying into an old dressing gown (true story)?

Break-ups suck… they more than suck. It is so much more than emotional fragility. It’s a whole-hearted state of emergency in one small ‘you’ sized package. We smile, laugh, tell everyone that we are okay… we promise! But we are not.

I ate everything I could find in my house. Then I lost my appetite completely for a week and decided to start burning things that reminded me of him. Bad idea. Not only was it a fire hazard, when I realised what I was doing hysteria hit me and I did everything I could do to fix the damage I was trying to cause. I stopped listening to music, watching TV and reading. Instead, I slept. For three days I slept and I tried to process how I was feeling. Everyone seems to forget that you can’t say anything to comfort someone who is grieving. What no one told me is that it was OKAY to feel this way at first. Grief is such a complex thing and everyone will process his or her pain differently, but every individual needs help in a different way.

Turn to your friends when you are ready. It’s important to have a couple of close friends near by that we can tell anything to. You need them right now, so don’t be scared to let loose on them. Your partner was previously your best friend and the worst bit of the sadness is not having them there to comfort you. Cry on your friends, let the snot flow and, for the love of God, DO NOT WATCH A NICHOLAS SPARKS MOVIE. Are you a sucker for punishment? STEP AWAY. Watch ‘Erin Brockovich’. Right now, you need to empower yourself and start to get stronger. Build yourself up, tell your friends your plans for world domination and enlist their help. I got a new job, changed my hair colour, moved out of home, went on a health kick, and revamped my wardrobe. I may be miserable but at least I look damn good.

Rebuild your network – there are so many people who you have not met yet. Now is the time to break away and make some new friends. You have probably lost half your friends during the Division of the Friendship Assets phase of the break-up, and that adds insult to injury. I miss his friends and all their weird ways. But I have made an effort to make new friends. Your good friends will have friends that you don’t know, so turn on that charm!

Friends are going to help you through this more then you know. Mine rallied hard. I was presented with brutal honesty, kindness, and compassion, some serious bitching when I was ready and then finally, a game plan for what was going to happen to get me better. My Facebook friend list has grown in the last couple of months, as has my social calendar.

We all know that drunk texting, calling, mailing, Tweeting, Facebook messaging, status posting, Instagramming and any other social media outletting you can think of is a bad idea. I drunk texted. It was bad. I even posted some song lyrics to Instagram because I needed an outlet. It was very bad. Be realistic with yourself. I knew that my lack of control was going to happen eventually, and with so many available social media outlets at my disposal, I lost it and took advantage of them all. Instead of beating myself up over it, the next morning when I realised what I had done, I sent my ex a message in apology.

We often forget about how the other person is feeling in a break-up, because we’re so focussed on surviving ourselves. The thought of him suffering broke my heart even more and I didn’t want to hurt him. So I said sorry, and he said it was alright. End of a very awkward conversation.

As for rebounds… that’s… a touchy subject. The thought has crossed my mind a few times and I honestly think it depends on the person as to whether or not a rebound is the right path to trek down. Common consensus is that I should be ‘dating’, but I don’t really know how to do that. Engaging in long-term relationships in your early twenties can mean that you miss out on developing that part of social interaction. Dating, kissing people, sleeping with someone new, or even entertaining the thought of a new boyfriend any time soon scares me. I try not to think about being forever alone, but I would be lying if I said I hadn’t already chosen my 40th birthday Cat Lady outfit. While I don’t think that part of my break-up mentality is healthy, at least I know I am capable of thinking into the future.

I believe in exes being friends. He was my best friend before he was my boyfriend and maybe, one day, we can smile at each other and know that we are both okay and can give friendship another go. Forgiveness is a beautiful thing and a sign of some of the strongest friendships is that that underlying bond that remains no matter what. This is not the case for everyone and for some people, burning every shred of evidence and never seeing their ex again is the only way to go. I salute you and your strength, because that is a hard thing to do.

If you do want to be friends, do not try and rush things. Take it slow. Take it slower than slow. You loved this person once upon a time, and maybe you still do, so jumping straight into a full-blown friendship could cause old feelings to jump to the surface. You have spent so long recovering and getting yourself better, so try and stand strong. And if you fail, keep trying. If you give up, it’s not admitting defeat – it is allowing you to grow.

It has been about eight weeks since my break-up happened. Blaire is back. I can write again. Music, TV and books have re-entered my life and I’m starting to finally find comfort in myself. I am out on my own now which has forced me to find strength in myself something I previously never thought to be possible. And even though I am on my now, I am starting to build my happiness again. Am I actually completely okay? God no. But I have lied enough about my happy face and I have Googled enough bullshit on ‘How to Get Over a Break-Up’ to know that I will be.

Even though I have written an entire article about ways you can go about recovering, I know it probably is not going to make anyone out there who feels like I do, feel any better. The rule of a break-up is that you make up your own, because every couple and every ex-couple is different. I want the other broken-hearted people out there to know that they are not alone. There are other sad, recovering relationship-ists in the world who know how you feel, think like you think and understand that a tub of Nutella is always appropriate for dinner tonight.

Image source: Unsplash.

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