“Lord knows it’s only me that I’m deceiving
When it comes to saying goodbye
That’s a simple word that I just cannot say” – Gladys Knight
Why do relationships end? How is it possible for two people who’ve shared everything from hikes in the mountains surrounding Malibu to hugs at 3:00 A.M. during Hollywood thunderstorms return to being strangers? Why do we only remember the good moments… like looking back as you walk into the elevator to see them looking at you as you leave? Why do we remember venues filled with 1,000s of people and only remember the smile once you found each other? Why do we remember so vividly the moment we met them and the hope and meaning that brief encounter held for us. Why do we relive the songs, places, seasons, smells and adventures we shared with them as though each was a spiritual experience? Why did it all end when neither one of you wanted to be the first to say goodbye?
Clearly, these are questions I’ve asked and experiences relevant to my life… but we’ve all been there. The more significant problem is why do relations end leaving us with shattered hearts and forever changed? We never remember the pig cheated on us… and was living double lives. We never remember the moments of pain when we realized nothing was as it seemed. Reality is a bitch. I think Streisand said it better than anyone when she sang, “what’s too painful to remember… we simply choose to forget”. God knows my head went looking for sand anytime I didn’t want to see the truth. Ostracizing was my go-to card for a lot of years. I probably still run from reality but to a lesser degree these days.
Recently, I read an article on the “stages of breakup” after reliving a relationship in my head for the past month. This is pretty close to reality in my life… so, I’m sharing it!
If you’ve ever been through a bad breakup, you know the struggle is real. For the weeks (or possibly months, if it was a bad one) that follow, life can be rough, but there is always light at the end of the tunnel. Don’t believe me? Just look around. Most people you see have all gone through the pain of a breakup at least once before. They survived it and moved on with their lives, so you can too. Because once you make it through these brutally honest phases of life after a breakup, not only will you feel better, but you’ll be stronger, too.
That all sounds great, but when you’re still very much in your heartbreak, it’s not that helpful. However, having an idea of what to expect can shine the light on where you are in the mourning process and how soon you’ll be ready to rebound. And while, admittedly, every post-relationship experience is a bit different and on its timeline, there are various paths that we all go on, so you don’t have to go through this experience entirely blind. Here are the post-breakup phases that we pretty much all go through.
The Black Hole Phase
Oh man, this is a rough phase. It happens immediately after the split when everything feels like darkness and despair. This phase is the “stay on the couch and shove food and booze into your mouth and Netflix into your eyeholes” phase. There will be a lot of crying and a lot of imagining your life spent alone surrounded by pugs. (Full disclosure, that’s pretty much my dream scenario, so you know, different strokes for different folks.) All you can think about is everything you will miss about your ex, but also, everything that makes them fundamentally the devil incarnate. It’s a complicated phase. While the pain in the black hole may feel like it will swallow you up forever, it won’t. Just give it time, and be compassionate with yourself. It’s normal to mourn.
The “Friendtervention” Phase
Eventually, your friends are going to have enough of this black hole phase and step in because, for one thing, they can’t stand to see you hurt, but also they kind of always thought your ex wasn’t good enough for you, and it’s time that you realize it. They will pry you off the sofa and reintroduce you to your long lost friends: soap and clean clothes. It’s time to see the sun again and get some vitamin D (literally and possibly figuratively, if you know what I am sayin’…).
While every part of you wants to go back home and become one with the sofa again while finishing your Shameless marathon (you didn’t love it the first time you tried to watch it, but now you realize it’s freakin’ genius). There is a part of you that is grateful to your friends for getting you out of the house again.
The Boredom Phase
After the black cloud finally lifts, you realize that, yes, you are going to get through this. This breakup isn’t going to break you. Yeah, you’re still sad, but you’re up and moving and ready to start engaging in life again. But also, you’re so bored. The days are so long! Where did all these extra hours come from? You begin to realize how much time just being in a relationship filled. Being single is full of possibility and freedom, but being new to singledom can make you think it’s pretty boring! So you enter…
The New Routine Phase
Well, you can’t just sit around bored all the time, right? So, it’s time to do all the things you never had time to do before and make a new routine for yourself! One thing humans are generally good at is filling up our time. Before you know it, your new routine has filled your schedule, and you’re back to being stressed about never having a moment to relax. So that’s progress, I guess.
The Lingering Mourning And Relapse Phase
By keeping busy, you’ve started to feel a lot better. Being productive works! So maybe it’s time to go ahead and get productive about getting closure from the relationship. Time to purge social media and give your ex all their stuff back. You’re moving on and moving up! What started as a purge turns into a spiral, and instead of just hitting block you deep-dived on their Insta and followed those tags into deeper and darker water.
Suddenly, you hear the siren song of the sofa calling to you for another emotional setback. Go ahead and indulge in it. Part of recovery is relapsing. But next time, just hit “block” and keep it moving.
The Moving On, For Real This Time Phase
Eventually, those emotional relapses get shorter, less intense, and best of all, less frequent. In their place is a feeling of acceptance (and even some eagerness) to get back out there see what possibilities await. That’s the sign you’ve been waiting for; it’s finally happening… you are officially healing, and you are stronger than you ever knew. Congratulations, you’ve made it to the light at the end of the breakup tunnel!
Remember, it’s easy to give up hope after a bad breakup when it feels like love is dead forever, but give it time… and ice cream… and remember my blog is here with the answers to absolutely nothing… so remain strong!
This is my journey… this is my life.