A breakup, a breakdown and building myself back up

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In January, my boyfriend and I broke up. We had been dating for almost two years, we lived together, and we spoke about our future and marriage on an almost daily basis.

But in the end, it didn’t work out.

There’s no need to go into the details of it all but what I want to focus on today is how I picked myself up and got through the hardest time of my life. For anyone out there going through a hard time, this one’s for you.

I’ve rewritten this post many times, partly because the experience feels like a mountain of words and feelings and getting it down on paper is challenging. But also because it’s still emotional for me. It’s still hard to write about an ending. A true heartbreak. A loss.

But I know it’s time to share this. It’s felt weird to keep this from you for so long — if you’ve read my work for any amount of time, you know that I’m a really open book with you. I’ve wanted to share this, but I needed to wait until I had some objectivity on the situation and could help you in the best way possible.

To give you some context, I completely unraveled after the breakup. I was unsure if we made the right choice, and was left with massive amounts of anxiety, confusion and doubts. I’ve never experienced pain like this. It felt never-ending, and even when life felt okay for a brief moment, pain would come rushing back, without warning, just like that. I was exhausted from how crappy I felt.

My head was a mess, and my heart was totally broken.

It’s now been almost 8 months and so much has changed. I’ve learned to take amazing care of myself and feel closer to myself than I ever have. Maybe it takes an experience of breaking open to come out so much more whole on the other side.

In these past 8 months, I’ve learned what it looks like to pick myself up from a dark, scary place and feel hope, happiness, and lots of joy again. I’ve learned how to cope with the hardest of emotions. I’ve learned how to be tender, compassionate, and unconditionally loving toward myself, even if I felt like I made big mistakes. I’ve learned that while I might flail around messily trying to figure out how to get through something, that I have the strength to get through it.

I want to share with you the key things that helped me get back on my feet and come out the other end of this experience so much stronger, wiser, and a better woman. There’s certainly no “roadmap” to dealing with loss and pain, but I hope that by sharing this, it may help someone out there on their journey back to a happy place.

1. I let myself fall apart and feel it ALL.

I used to use food to cope with my feelings, but if there’s one thing I’ve learned from healing my relationship with food, it’s that all my feelings need a place to go. I refuse to numb or distract myself anymore, because I know if I do, it’ll backfire later. For me the only choice was to feel it all and that meant letting myself unravel. I can’t emphasize enough how important it was to feel everything.

Let yourself unravel and move through your feelings.

2. I had to surrender my “timeline” for feeling better.

I’m a person who loves structure and knowing how things will turn out, and I wanted so desperately to know WHEN I would start to feel better. I intellectually knew that at some point, I’d feel better, but I had no idea when that would happen. I wanted to magically zoom forward three months and wake up feeling okay, but I had to learn to drop the timeline. I couldn’t control the process I was going through, and I had to learn to weather the storms until they passed. Through this, I learned to have so much more patience, both with myself, and how life works.

Be patient with yourself as you move through whatever you’re experiencing. Surrender.

3. I leaned on people way more than ever before.  

One of the biggest things that helped me during this time was completely letting it all out to my family and friends. I held absolutely nothing back. They heard all the tears, irrational questions, and crazy thoughts. Whatever I was going through, I trusted that they could handle it. And they showed up for me BIG time. People want to be there for you. They want to help, especially when you’re going through a tough time.

The right people will be there for you through everything. Give them the opportunity to show up for you.

4. I got spiritual.

I’ve always had some level of spirituality in my life, but I think there’s some moments when you have no choice but to ask for help from some higher power. There were times when I felt so much pain, confusion, or guilt, that I couldn’t bear it. These moments took me to my knees, literally. I started praying, meditating, journaling, and asking for help all the time. I would ask for my fears to be cleared, or to see a situation through a new, loving perception. This was a moment to moment process and it was one of the elements of my life at the time that gave me the most relief and peace.

There is so much peace already within you, you just have to find it.

5. I let myself appreciate the highs.

After the breakup, I remember feeling guilty for any moment when I felt happy. It’s like I couldn’t trust those feelings, and I couldn’t put too much stock in them because pain was right around the corner. One of my mentors told me it was okay and necessary for me to fully appreciate all of those moments, and the more I did that, the more of those moments I’d get. It’s okay to appreciate the fleeting moments of sunshine, you deserve and need them.

Be thankful for the sunny moments amidst the storm. Soon, there will be so many more of them. 

6. I turned my home into my sanctuary.

I think after any sort of major loss or change in your life, it’s normal to feel wobbly. Awkward. You’re getting used to experiencing your world in a whole new way. Because each day was a weird, unchartered experience, it was important for me to have my home become my safety zone. I kept it as neat as possible, got delicious white bedding that I’d always wanted, lit tons and tons of candles, and made small changes to make it as peaceful and warm as I could. At the end of a tough day, I knew I could come home to a place that felt comfortable and nurturing.

Turn your home into your sanctuary, the comforting place for you to land at the end of the day.

7. I surrounded myself with uplifting resources.

At the time, my mind was constantly swirling with unsettled thoughts. Fear, anxiety, guilt, uncertainty. I knew that my feelings were a direct response to my thoughts, so I tried to keep my thoughts in as good of a place as possible. My nightstand had a stack of books, all of which helped me feel a sense of peace wash over me whenever I’d read them. I’d read a few pages at night and in the mornings. I carried this book in my purse everyday. I would fall asleep listening to Marianne Williamson lectures, and listen to podcasts in the middle of the day. The more I surrounded myself with these resources, the more access my mind had to peace.

Create an environment of people, places and things that uplift you and restore your mindset.

 8. I treated myself with patience, compassion, and lots of love.

The breakup was such a good opportunity for me to learn how to love myself deeper. I had to have patience toward myself daily, knowing that whatever I was feeling was okay, and the amount of time it was taking me to get back on my feet was just right. I learned to be my own best friend, comforting myself all day long and being my own ultimate source of compassion and love.

Give yourself unconditional love and compassion… no. matter. what.

9. I kept teaching and helping others.

I took one week off and cleared my schedule when the breakup happened, but then I got back into it. Coaching my clients turned out to be some of the best moments of my weeks. Not only was it a relief to get to focus on them for those calls, but helping others makes you realize that everyone has their own battles and that we’re all in this together. It gives you and your own problems some perspective. I also found that some of my best coaching came from this experience. I think when you’re digging deep in your own life, you can relate to others’ hearts in an even deeper way.

Helping others gives you perspective on your life and helps you realize we’re all in this together.

I hope that some element of this helps you either now or in the future when a rough patch hits.

In the comments, I’d love to hear: have you gone through something hard lately or are you right now? what do you feel like has helped you get through a really hard time in your life?

Lots of love,

Jamie

P.S. The most important relationship you have in your life is with yourself. Check out the Master Your Life group coaching program to learn how supreme self-care can heal your relationship with food and give you rock solid confidence and strength.

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  1. This is beautiful, Jamie. You have such wisdom and strength. For anyone who is grappling with a deep loss (breakup or otherwise), this post will be immensely helpful. Proud of you for having the courage to share this!

  2. Jamie, thank you for this. It was beautiful. I think we can all relate to this on one level or another. It’s hard to make it through this life without heartbreak. But it’s important to know that you can come out stronger at the end of it — and this post is the perfect way of remembering that. Lately I’ve been depressed and anxious about life. About my future. But I always remember at times when I feel low I have to work through my feelings, not around them. It sucks, but if I work through them, I usually always end up feeling better and remember something good that maybe I was pushing aside.
    I appreciate your sharing this with the world! It has awesome thoughts and perspective.

    • Hi Marilyn, thank you for sharing this with me! I definitely found that the more I sat with my feelings, even if they were painful, the more I learned / healed and the better I could move through them. And remember that all the low feelings are a NORMAL part of life and the more we can embrace them, the more resilient we become. Sending you lots of love today.

  3. I love this. I went through a terrible break-up last fall that, I now see, got me out of a very toxic situation. While it was absolutely the most challenging experience I’ve ever been through, it cracked my heart open in a way I’d never felt before and I know I am softer, more loving, and more compassionate as a result. I relate to every item on this list. What helped me most: spirituality, yoga, and building my community by investing in healthy, deep friendships. <3

    • Love all of this Addison – and yes, I can really relate to the “cracked my heart open” part and how it makes you a softer, more compassionate person. Thank you so much for sharing, love. xo.

  4. this is me – except I’m a year out and still very much in th pain. no friends or family to lean on, and nor do i have the resources to make my home my sanctuary as he took a lot of my hard saved money (we had just moved countries for his new job and i was unemployed at the time). I really wish i could apply these principles, yet i wake up everyday just cursing the day i met him and all the heartbreak/financial mess he left me in. I’m working now, thankfully, but in a country that treats teachers appallinging (compared to how i was treated in australia) and can barely make ends meet. its been an emotionally exhausting year.

    how would you suggest i get back on track when i have big, practical and REAL hurdles that i can’t change?? would love your suggestions, because the more i read, the more i feel like failure because if after 8 months you’re feeling great, and after 16 I’m worse than ever….i feel so hopeless 🙁

    • Hey Kate, thank you so much for sharing this. First of all, while I feel “great” after 8 months, it is not all sunshine and rainbows. There are still TONS of hard moments and days. One of the biggest things that sticks out to me with what you wrote is how much anger it seems that you still have toward him, yourself, and the situation. The more you can forgive and make peace with what happened, the more you’ll emotionally be able to move on. Every person you meet is an assignment for you to learn something. What did you learn from him / the experience? Maybe it’s just things you learned about yourself that you needed to see — ways you were giving your power away, etc. I wish I could talk to you for hours about this, but without knowing much about your situation, my inclination here is that there is definitely forgiveness that needs to happen and emotionally making peace with him and the situation. Let me know if this helps love. xoxo.

  5. Beautiful post, Jamie. Proud of you! And love the Spirit Junkie shout out, that book does wonders.

  6. Thank you for this post, Jamie! I got a lot out of your 21-day intuitive eating program 2 years ago, and have followed along ever since. I didn’t realize you just went through a breakup, but you seem so strong coming out of it now.
    Strangely, my life seems to have paralleled, as I went through a sudden and tough separation from my husband this March. He moved away in April, and I went into survival mode, doing what I do best to stay strong and stay busy. Now, as I am getting fatigued and anxious from the lack of control in my life, I am really hoping to stop hiding behind my semblance of a life and start addressing ME. I’ve gotten so wrapped up in staying busy that I notice I’m not representing my true self so much these days, and instead am sinking into a cycle of staying distracted by surface things. Now, I really want to put the pieces back together fully and wholly.
    One thing you mentioned in your post is podcasts- Which ones do you recommend? I listen to “On Being” and some of the discussions really speak to me, but others don’t catch my (very limited) attention these days. Would love to hear your suggestions so I can download a few before I leave for a girls trip to Europe in a few days!!!

    • Thank you for sharing Sarah, I can only imagine how hard this time must be for you. I think you’re so smart to realize that the “distractions” on the outside aren’t always serving you, and there is deeper work to be done. Amazing. For podcasts — I listened to Jennifer Kass’s podcast each week and a lot of Gabby Bernstein videos. Also, have SO MUCH FUN on your girls trip!!! That sounds like just what the doctor ordered 😉 <3

  7. Jamie, thank you for sharing your story! This post really resonates me. Last year, I went through a very painful break up of a three and a half year relationship, and I turned to your blog many times for inspiration regarding self-care during that time. It was definitely the most transformative year of my life in so many ways, and I feel like a totally different person in the best way possible. So strange how the hardest and most painful things change you in such brilliant ways. Wishing you luck on the journey, especially on the days that are still hard. 🙂

    • Thanks for sharing your story, Rachel. I am SO glad to hear you came out on the other side feeling so good. And yes there are still tough days, so thank you for the encouragement! Lots of love. xo.

  8. What a wonderful post! I am so proud of you and what you have accomplished for you during this time. I wish I had had this post to read when I was going through my breakup low. As always, I am so proud to call you a friend.

  9. Sending you so much love, dear, bright, sweet, courageous Jamie. When one is able to use the most difficult times in life as a container for deep inner work to be done, you can be sure a full, sparkling life is yours to be lived. Thank you for the vulnerable share. It is a lovely and valuable teaching. <3

  10. Thank you so much for writing this Jamie!!! This summer has been a tough one for me — a breakup, getting laid off from my job and moving out of my apartment that I shared with my best friend (she got engaged). Life has been anything but predictable over the past few months, however, reading your words is OH so helpful!!! Miss you and hopefully we can see eachother soon 🙂 xoxo

    • hey you! so good to hear from you. I feel ya… sometimes it all comes at once, right? I’m so glad this helped and would LOVE to get together soon, sounds like we have a TON to catch up on!! love you.

  11. Jamie,

    Thank you so much for sharing your words, carefully crafted with such thought and feeling. I am not one to post comments but your post really hits home with me right now. I flew across the country in the pursuit of a job and a potential relationship which had been in flux over the course of a year due to distance.

    The job worked out but the relationship didn’t. With knowing that this decision is for the best there is still pain. Thank you for the reminders to be patient with yourself. As soon as the decision was made I thought “why do I hurt so badly? Why can’t I just get over it and move on like he seems to be able to do so easily?”

    Everything you have said on how to help yourself heal feels so point on. thank you for these beautiful reminders.

    From my heart to yours,
    Kate

    • Kate, my heart is with you! I know this must have been disappointing and hard for you, and please try to be completely accepting of where you’re at. Just because he “seems” to have moved on means nothing about your own process. The more you can validate yourself and your feelings, the easier it will be to work through them, and you’ll start to feel more in love with and connected to yourself than ever. I’m thinking of you, and thank you so much for commenting. You’re going to recover from this in AMAZING ways!!

  12. Oof. This hit home, hard! Amazing tips you shared. I certainly need to take note and take action – but it’s always so comforting to know I’m not the only person dealing with something rough! Thanks for sharing, girl!

  13. This couldn’t come at a better time for me…. I’m going through exactly this thing right now…for almost a month now….trying to get over my breakup after 3 and a half years of a relationship, which even took me to another country, leaving so much behind…and yet, trying to see right now how all this mess has helped me find my true self…however… it’s not even a proper breakup and things are very confusing, since he is not sure whether we might get back together….After fighting, I coudn’t leave us in this dark place and so, we talked about everything, how we became like this, what our real challenges are….knowing that we both want to grow and we both love each other…. going through all the steps that you mention, I really truly see how I can love myself more, see my true self, overcome my ego and be more compassionate…totally switch my perspective… but now, that I understood my dark sides and doing all to overcome them, he is still quite attached to his ego , although he also knows that it is not good for him, nor us….and this hurts. being in an “almost” relationship right now , not knowing what the other wants really hurts. I got away to my family now, to my home country…letting it out to my people…just as you say…and there are moments of sunshine…and I pray a lot…and somehow know that all this is for a good reason….in any case, its wonderful to know that I’m not in this alone…we are all in this together, as you say. And I see you Jamie, so powerful and beautiful, smiling with your big heart. And this is something I can look up right now.
    Thanks so much for sharing this with us ! You are wonderful and I wish you all the joy and love in the world. I know it will all come back to you in the most awesome ways! <3

    • Steph, I know how it feels to be in that “in between”. It is really really hard. My advice is to remain really true to yourself — what is the BEST most loving thing you can do for yourself right now. Maybe that means exploring the in between and being in limbo, and maybe not. Please put yourself first here and honor yourself. I am so here for you! xoxo.

  14. Jamie,

    This year has been one of the most interesting and freeing times of my life! I opened up about something horrible that happened to me that I kept secret for over a year. That was the beginning of my journey to honesty, openness, learning to be okay with emotions, and all kinds of freedoms I never imagined existed. 2015 has been pretty awesome to say the least.

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