As soon as you read the headline you were probably already thinking about that time when you had your worst breakup. Or maybe you’re thinking of a horrible story your best friend told you about their ugly end to a long relationship. It’s taken me almost two years to write this and to be honest it feels strange digging it up again because it’s been so long but I would regret never writing this story. It’s a sad story, that happens to more people than I ever imagined. And you need to know that life gets better — because it does.
Let’s dive in.
(Heart) Breaking News
It was a Thursday afternoon at work and I was browsing through Facebook when I noticed the little red “2” bubble hovering over my “Other” Message Box.
I opened it and quickly skimmed a message from a girl I’ve never heard of before. She asked me if I was still with my boyfriend at the time because she’d been seeing him all summer and some sketchy stuff was going on. The second message was from a different girl, whom I also did not know, asking a similar question. Wut.
It doesn’t really matter how you found out, whether through your ex, catching them in the act, or from a message by the third party(ies). It just flat out sucks to discover the person you thought you knew all this time was capable of such a horrible series of actions. The pain I felt was unlike anything I ever felt before. I felt utterly betrayed, confused, exasperated, disappointed and mortified. It took a while for the shock to pass and I had a hard time deciding how to deal with it and where to go from there.
The Lurking / Mourning Stage
Cheating is probably one of the worst causes for a breakup but how you deal with it is an opportunity to let the experience either ruin you or mold you. As with any break up during this social media era, it takes a lot of self-control not to check their profiles for updates, or hack into their emails to see what they’re up to. In fact, lurking their blogs or Twitter feeds does you more harm in the end. The truth is, you’re not going to get anything but bitterness when you find out your ex is either still fooling around, or depressed and remorseful. Nothing can change what he/she did to you, and honestly at this point, it’s not about them anymore — it’s about you.
Avoiding The Reckless Search for Temporary Fixes Stage
There are two ways you’ll handle the breakup. You’ll either run off and mess around, get wasted at parties, and binge-watch Netflix to make yourself forget, or you’ll find healthy ways to deal with it that, although slowly, will help you rebuild your self-esteem and rediscover your value. Although the first method might seem to work for a time, you’ll still have those nights when you wake up at 3:15 AM thinking about how it used to be, and what happened to make him/her do that. You’ll still have broken relationships because of unresolved trust issues. You’ll still doubt your worth because you’re not showing the world what you stand for. This is why this stage is best to avoid… so those things don’t happen. Instead, focus on how you can grow from this… which leads to my next point.
Be Like A Phoenix
I love the concept of a Phoenix (all my fellow Harry Potter fans, HOLLAAAA). The idea that the mystical bird must suffer intense burning from flames and ash just to be reborn and transformed is what happens to us after dealing with any crisis in life. We can either remain a pile of ash and never regain our hope and confidence again, or rise up, even though it hurts, and become something more. Romantic love might never seem the same again — your whole understanding of true love, trust and honesty was just crushed. But that doesn’t mean that perspective can’t be repaired. The future can get better. It doesn’t mean people are garbage. It doesn’t mean there is no hope for your future and it doesn’t mean you’re not worth better. Because now you’re stronger. You have a great story of healing and accomplishment to write and share. You’re going to inspire and encourage. You’re a Phoenix reborn.
Rediscover Your Worth
I joined the gym a month after the breakup. It was a healthy and fun way to rebuild my self-confidence. I started a journal to get my feelings out on paper and read articles on positivity and healthy reflection. I reunited with old friends and went out more, and that’s a good thing! Don’t sit around in your room, get out there, catch a movie, go to the drive-in, walk around the community, get a gym membership, pick up a hobby, host a BBQ or potluck, reunite with old friends and embrace new ones, build relationships with people you can trust, spend time with your family, be with people who love you! There are so many other amazing relationships for human beings to experience and you owe it to yourself to discover or revive them. Plus, this is a chance for you to learn about who you are. A cheating ex has no power over your present or your future. Instead of looking back and dwelling on your pain, look forward at the freedom you’re about to experience! Appreciate who you are because you are a treasure and it’s going to get better. You’re full of beautiful qualities that you should discover, embrace and be proud of.
Set Your Standards High
Seriously do this. Sit down and write down a list of things you expect from your future man/woman and a list of the things you won’t tolerate. (Be reasonable of course, no one is perfect!) Read it over a few times then put it away. Doing this will give you a picture of what you believe you deserve from someone and it also refreshes your mind when you are ready for a new relationship. Setting your standards high will help you find someone you can count on, and who is as much a treasure to you as you are to them.
Embrace Peace (and Forgive!)
I know you’re angry, I sure was! Having your trust broken whether it’s from a relationship, friend, or family member, can really damage you and have a lasting scar that takes years to fade away. But one way you can get that wound on the road to recovery is to forgive. Yeah… I know, why should you? Sometimes forgiveness is more about your healing and peace, than their removal of guilt for what they did. When you forgive you prevent what they did from holding you underwater. You can move forward, let the past go, and slowly work to regain your trust in people, and your confidence in yourself.
I’ve made the mistake of rushing into a new relationship after being hurt, as if replacing the person would help me forget. But you need to give yourself time to deal with and accept what happened, find consolation in your friends, and spend time taking care of yourself and working on your healing. And who knows–maybe one of those friends will become someone you can grow into a meaningful relationship with! Once you hit rock bottom, there’s nowhere left to go but upward. 🙂