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,
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.