Don’t we often hear people say “Love is complicated”? Well, I agree. Love has no universal definition – it is a paradox in itself. Love makes us strong and it makes us vulnerable. Love can heal and also hurt. It brings a sense of completeness yet makes us dependent. Almost every love story begins with the hope of lasting for eternity. But the sad and surprising truth is that most of them end in a breakup.
Every break up has its own story – some couples separate due to the societal stigmas or due to the intervention of parents. At times, families and friends might be supportive but the couple may have irreconcilable differences – and this becomes the cause of a breakup. Some might tell you that a true relationship can be fixed and that one should fight forever to make it work. But, that is not always the case, right?
There comes a stage when you realize that a relationship will not work and it is in best interests to go separate ways.
Of course, no matter what the reason for the breakup, it is almost always hard to go through it when it happens. It is in all possibility the saddest phase of a relation. It ends the relationship and affects both people involved in it, sometimes even more – friends, families, and more. But it brings along important changes. Its lessons can be enlightening, lasting for a lifetime. The same is true for me.
Even if the love story does not last for an eternity, the lessons learnt from a break-up can. This is the paradox of life.
Relationships end, everyone knows that. The tough part is actually dealing with suffering, accepting, letting go, moving on, and processing a whole lot of other feelings at the same time.
Though a difficult phase, there are several lessons I learned after breaking up:
1. I learned that a break up is devastating and heart-wrenching.
I considered myself solely responsible for it. I have spent nights crying. I would introspect my decision but I stayed affirm. I would eat one meal a day if it was served to me. It felt like I had lost a part of myself. I always had a person on my mind earlier but now I could think about no one. This feeling of emptiness lasted for a while but I have come a long way after that.
2. I learned that hard times make one strong.
At times, I would feel the absence of my girlfriend. But I found an enormous, magical strength within myself to face this feeling. It tried hard to break me down but I fought back. The empty feeling expected me to fill the void but the breakup helped me understand that there is a need to rush the process of finding and trusting another person to love. I have learned that a relationship has a lot more to do than meeting someone, getting engaged, and then married. Like every failure – I must have lost at heart, but I gained a lot more.
3. I learned the importance of open conversations
I learned that honesty and openness about emotions are necessary to have a healthy relationship. I understood the difference between being honest and being defensive. I realised the importance to be open instead of being closed and hidden.
I now know the importance of being able to have conversations without biases or judgment. There must be the freedom to have open conversations about insecurities involving, or past love. This helps in building an understanding which is necessary for a healthy relationship.
4. I learned that forgiveness is a rare and powerful strength.
After a harsh breakup, naturally, you would want your ex to lament over leaving you. You would want them to feel guilty over their mistakes and faults. But ask yourself “Why?”
It’s easy to hold onto blame and be angry, but it’s hard to let it go.
These feelings of revenge are actually the signs of insecurity and weakness within us. Forgiving the one who hurt you and moving on is a sign of strength. Forgiveness requires a lot of courage and maturity. When you forgive, it shows that you have truly grown up.
5. I learned that only I could be independent.
When I turned my focus on myself from the relationship, I learned a lot. I now accept myself much more. I have grown and matured as a person. Of course, all of this happens gradually. It cannot take place in the blink of an eye. This phase can be very hurtful but eventually, it reduces the pain and brings peace. Finally, I can say that now, I have more patience to look at my mistakes. I have figured out what went wrong in my relationship. I realised that it was about our flaws which could only be solved separately. I am able to face the insecurities residing within me. I took it as an opportunity for my personal growth and became stronger as an individual.
6. Stop looking for reasons why it ended and have what you could have done better.
It’s tempting to rehash what happened and blame yourself for your shortcomings, but you can’t change the past, so why torture yourself reliving it? The only thing that matters is the fact that the relationship came to its end and it’s time to move on.
7. Practice acceptance.
Commit each morning to fully accepting what is happening in the now. Believe there is a reason why this is all happening and trust that it’s for the best. That this breakup will somehow support your growth or lead to something good, even if you can’t see it now.
8. Do not hate or wish anything negative to that person.
You won’t hurt them by thinking negative thoughts about them. You’ll only hurt yourself by staying stuck in this kind of anger and bitterness.
9. Allow yourself to feel and to grieve.
This was the most important one for me. Don’t feel guilty for being sad or wishing things were different. Allow yourself to feel the pain of losing the person you love.
Don’t hide your emotions, and don’t be embarrassed because you’re hurting. It only makes it worse to respond to a difficult feeling (i.e. sadness) with another difficult feeling (i.e. guilt). Just let yourself feel whatever you feel, with no time limit imposed.
10. Enjoy the sensation of knowing you did everything you could.
Maybe you fought for that person or asked for forgiveness. Be confident that in the future you will never regret making the wrong decision and will never think about “what could have happened,” because you know you made an effort.
11. Practice gratitude.
Make a list of everything good going on in your life that you’re grateful for. Include attributes that make you a special and desirable person. Keep adding elements to this list, including all the things we take for granted, such as our health, our education, our families, our friends, and our skills. Refer to this list whenever you think you lost the best thing in your life. You didn’t. There’s a lot still left to appreciate, and a lot more coming down the road.