There are few experiences in life more devastatingly painful than a breakup. As breakups seem to activate our most vulnerable spot where love and abandonment intersect, it's no wonder many people struggle with "getting over" a lost lover.
But therein lies the key to healing: as with any grieving process, there is no getting over; you must walk through the eye of the storm, grieve as hard and long as you need to grieve, and from that raw and rich place of brokenhearted broken-openness, find the willingness to ask yourself the hard but essential questions that will help you move forward.
Following these three steps will not only help you heal from heartbreak but will prepare you to begin your next relationship on a healthy foundation:
1. Let yourself grieve without apology, qualifiers, or time limitations.
In a culture that teaches us early in life that "crying is weak" and offers platitudes like, "I'm sure it's for the best; he was a jerk, anyway" in response to heartbreak, it's often quite challenging for someone going through a breakup to allow themselves enough time and space to grieve to completion. And truncated grief is the surest way to entrench it further, thereby inhibiting the healing process.
In order to heal from loss, we must grieve; there's simply no other way. So let yourself cry. Bring compassion to your pain. If you hear an insidious voice whispering statements like, Oh, get over it, you big baby. It's not that bad, or Really? You were only together for three months. Come on! you know that you've fallen prey to the cultural voice that has zero tolerance for pain or emotional discomfort. Tell that voice to go away and allow yourself to feel your pain.
Likewise, there are no time limitations on grief. Some people may need to grieve hard for a month and then they're mostly over it, while others grieve intermittently, in fits and starts, over the course of a year or longer. There isn't a right or wrong way to grieve; there's only your pain and your grief, and as long as you're meeting your pain with compassion instead of self-judgement or a "poor me" mentality, the grief is healthy and is the very medicine that will help you heal.
2. Be willing to examine how you contributed to the breakup.
After a breakup, most people vacillate between the two extremes of: