It's Not You, It's Me: Top 5 Heartbreak Lessons from 2016
You know that feeling when your heart drops, your hands start shaking, and the whole world seems to disappear as you try to read that blurry “we need to talk” text through your uncontrollable tears? It might be due to the lack of oxygen, because you’re already crying so hard you physically can’t breathe through your runny snotty nose, or it might be that your body knows what your brain doesn’t want to accept yet – you’re about to get dumped.
At this point it doesn’t matter if you met this guy a week ago, or if you’ve been in love with him for an eternity. It’s a shitty feeling. Now imagine if you were finally dating your dream guy, the guy that you have literally dreamed up a future with, beautiful babies and coordinated cars included, and it’s that much worse. You suddenly find yourself talking to the mirror trying to explain to yourself that your best friend wants to be just your best friend, and the romantic trip to Maine is not going to happen. He might have memorized your mom’s number, but he’s not going to use it anytime soon. And you might have exchanged a trillion pictures of Gabrielle Union and Dwayne Wade (because let’s be honest, they’re #CoupleGoals) but that’s them and you’re you and they’re not the same thing.
And the worst part? Normally when some idiot treats you like an idiot, you look to him to tell you that you deserve so much better, that your beauty was never intended to be appreciated by the “average”, and that the right guy will recognize your worth. Plus, deep down you know that he loves you, so who cares if this idiot doesn’t? But when the idiot and the best friend become the same person, you wonder who to believe.
So you’re forced to start believing yourself, instead. And that’s not a bad thing, necessarily. Here’s my top 5 heartbreak lessons of 2016:
1. Feel everything.
You might be so angry that you never want to see him again. Then 5 minutes later, you love him with all your heart and would do anything to have him back. You wake up at 4 AM and hand-write a passionately angry letter in your dark living room, and suddenly you identify with Edgar Allen Poe’s creative process because you couldn’t imagine getting those words on paper in the light or in any sense of normalcy. Then the sun rises and you wonder if you were too harsh. You make fun of him and convince yourself he wasn’t even all that. Then you remember he was everything. You’re confused and vulnerable and overwhelmed with all of your emotions. You don’t even know what the hell happened between you two. It’s okay. All of these feelings are valid, and you have every right to demand that he listen to you as you’re getting it all out. It’s the least he could do! A year from now you might look at these days and think “wow I acted so crazy”, but even your crazy ass deserves to feel.
2. Motivate yourself.
If you’re angry, go to the gym and I promise you will put yourself through the best work out of the year. If you feel lost, dedicate yourself to your grades and I promise your GPA will improve. If you feel inspired, then paint or write or do whatever it is that you do to convert that inspiration into art. The kids these days say “my haters be my motivators” – well allow your heart break to be your motivator.
3. Be grateful.
Look, I get that this sucks. And you’re probably thinking of all the reasons why this particular situation sucks extra. But the details of how it happened and why it happened don’t really matter – it would suck regardless.
What does matter, though, is the fact that your phone does not stop ringing for days. Every friend and acquaintance you’ve never thought twice about suddenly make it a priority to check on you, over and over again. Your religious friend advises you to trust God’s plan, and your petty friend plots your revenge and threatens to cuss him out, and your best friend throws the harsh reality in your face. And your mom is so deep in her feelings that you’d think he actually broke up with her.
At the end of the day, you’re not dying. You have all the support in the world. And most importantly, you are loved.
4. Be graceful.
Grace is looking past your anger and allowing yourself to forgive him, and even love him. Grace is trusting that if you’re really meant to be, time will change the circumstances and you will end up together again. Grace is walking away from the hole that his exit leaves you with, rather than internalizing it. Grace is not judging him for doing what he felt was right, or holding it against him. He might have left, but grace is not allowing him to take any part of you with him – not your laughter, your potential, your beauty, or your dreams. Grace is walking tall, speaking loudly, loving passionately, and trusting in yourself.
5. Become stronger.
Despite the fact that it ended, you learned a lot in this relationship. You must have, because if you didn’t, you wouldn’t be this upset. You grew tougher, you grew smarter, and you grew more into yourself. You found things other than trust and respect to be essential to a nurturing relationship. Your values and your priorities became a topic of discussion, as you tried to explain to him (and to yourself) why you think the way that you do. And you learned a thing or two about happiness.
At the very least, you were allowed to grow close enough to another human being to understand the complexities that each life brings. You realized that he has stories you’ve never heard and memories you’ve never appreciated and triggers that you’ve never anticipated. You see that your logic and your way of reasoning with the world is not inherently “correct”, just because your common sense says it is.
Take that with you, and use it to become stronger.