Although I addressed this topic about a month ago, I was asked to revisit it again. If I repeat myself, I’m sorry. I’m putting a slightly different spin, more of a step by step approach to this. Anyway…
Being dumped or “broken up with” has the same components of a death: Being dumped by someone you love is a severe injury; the death of someone you love is an amputation.
But being dumped hurts like hell. It makes you feel absolutely helpless. And, at first, it feels like there’s not much you can do about it.
You will try. You will call, you will text, you will email, and if you’re true USDA choice, grade “A” moron, you’ll knock on their front door. These are not efforts toward recovery from the breakup. These are shortsighted attempts to try to knit together what has already been ripped away from you.
Know this: attempts to retrieve something that has been lost, attempts to repair something that has been broken, is the absolute worst thing you can do in the initial stages of this event.
Instead, do the following.
First, when you have been broken up with, call somebody to talk to. Make sure that it’s a friend that you can not only trust but, if possible, someone that can can be seen in person. Make sure that is a person of the same sex. Cross-sexual confidences can be precarious, particularly given the depth of vulnerability you are experiencing at the moment. I have seen more than my share of rebound romantic encounters with people who were previously categorized as “friends” that have ended catastrophically. Recovery has to be independent of any other potentially romantic distraction.
These conversations need to be “stream of consciousness.” You just want to talk and keep talking. You may even want to tell the person you’re with, “please just listen to me. I may talking nonstop a while, but I just need you to listen.” Your friend will get your meaning and they won’t be offended.
Secondly, stay really busy. This sounds so remedial yet it’s extremely important. Clean your house, play video games, read like crazy, exercise until you want collapse, whatever it takes. Take on extra work in your job, help a friend with a project, do physical labor, it just doesn’t matter. Under no circumstances should you just sit there and figure out what you did, why you did it, how you could undo it, eat ice cream, how this person came to this conclusion, eat more ice cream, and keep swirling through the bullshit masquerading as cognitive inquiry. Keep your ass moving.
And when you feel like settling in and grabbing for the Cherry Garcia, keep moving again. Sleep should only come when you’re sleepy. And that may not get there until you exhaust yourself physically. Again, this is a remedy for the first three days of the pain. It feels counterintuitive to do it, let alone read this blather I’ writing. But you gotta move. If you can enlist the assistance of friend to help you move, all the better.
Don’t drink. That I’m even including this here implies that I think you’re all idiots. I don’t, we just do really idiotic things when we’re in pain, like trying to numb it with alcohol. Yeah, it works for that. You’ll be numb, all right. But the next day the pain doubles. You’ll be heartbroken, and you’ll have anxiety. And nausea. And a headache. And you won’t remember what you did last night. And you may be tempted to reach for the bottle again to take away all I just mentioned.
I’m serious. Don’t drink. It makes things worse.
Cry. This is particularly important if you’re a guy. Men get pissed first, then cry. Women cry, then get pissed. In general, a woman’s anger is eventually adapted into a defense mechanism as a result of the injury. A man’s anger is explosive and irrational, largely as a more immediate reaction to the pain. Crying accesses the depth of the sadness that one feels at being cast aside or being replaced. That sadness is best recognized through the expression of crying and the evidence of tears.
You have undoubtedly heard or read that crying is a release of tension and sadness. That would be accurate. Many people feel that if they cry, the sadness will just get worse. On the contrary, crying helps you let go of the sadness helps you relax into the hurt. Many people feel that crying is a surrender, yielding to the feeling of empowerment that anger can mobilize. That’s true, but the release offers relief. It’s the Big Deep Breath that we need to reset our emotional barometer. Crying helps us lower our internal pressure.
Write. Now that’s easy for me to put down here because I write a lot. It has become a readily accessible form of expression. For a lot of people, this may be new. The only times that you write is when you’re asked to, either at school or at work.
But I must tell you, even if it seems challenging, reading the words “I hate that motherfucker” or “who does that rotten piece of shit think he/she is?” feels great. It really does. It’s kind of validating. It’s like hearing somebody understanding your feelings without having to engage in conversation.
In addition, writing can be a great form of emotional expulsion. Five minutes of writing without stopping is, to me, like running for 30 minutes on the treadmill. You can lay out all your feelings out on paper or on your computer and, at the end of that exercise, I’m betting even money that you will be breathing harder and breaking a sweat, even though it’s only five minutes.
That’s just for the first 72 hours. The first three days. Next week I’ll help you through the first three months.
By entrusting us with your feelings, we help you take steps that you see necessary to begin and put forth the energy to make the needed change.
Now notice something: Trust in a coach, mentor, or guide helps you see what's in front of you. We see a Coach for Your Heart a little like an emotional Sherpa, somebody that helps you climb your mountain by pointing out where to best step along the path.
Offices in San Diego and Denver, but will travel to meet onsite anywhere in the United States and the World.