After a breakup, what next? You might have had the worst or the “best” breakup, but most times the pain still lingers and pierces the same. Currently, I am going through the stage of what next? After my long-term relationship of three years ending, I felt like the world had closed on me. Weirdly, for those who know me, they wondered why this hit me so hard. They thought I would be okay so quick given the arguments, the pain, and the toxicity they have witnessed or experienced indirectly when I was in that relationship. However, when it just happened, I was shattered to the core. Nowadays, I cry once in a while, but I have come to embrace that as grief. The grief of wondering where to take the love that I had for this person. The grief of dealing with the reality.
After a breakup, what next?
When you have been in a long-term relationship with someone, you might want closure. You will look for it, either from them or from those around them. Your soul will try to find all the reasons on understanding why your relationship failed regardless of all the red flags that existed from the start of the relationship. Personally, I looked for closure from my ex, and when I heard her say things like,
“When I was in that relationship, I always asked God to kill me!” I was shaken to my core. I looked at myself from a third-party perspective and realized at that moment, I felt like an abuser. When she said how she would do things for me and I was never satisfied and on asking which things, nothing could be mentioned, I knew I was never going to get a black and white reason on why we broke up.
Therefore, I stopped looking for closure and gave myself closure. When someone wants to leave, they will leave regardless of everything you have ever done or they have done for you. Sometimes, people will leave you because you do not serve them anymore. The best closure is the one that you give yourself.
The first days will be inundated with self-blame. You will loathe the very image of yourself in the mirror. You will play the ending over and over trying to see how you could have done differently in that relationship. You will try to see what you could have changed, and when you have been in a toxic relationship, you might invalidate your experiences and start romanticizing the other person. You will try to grasp and settle for the breadcrumbs of love.
The two weeks after my breakup, I blamed myself so much. Regardless of my feelings being invalidated, gaslighted, and suppressed, I wondered whether I should have been okay with everything. Regardless of every conversation when I raised an issue resulting in a 5-day fight which was accompanied by the defense, justification, gaslighting, and arguments, I still saw as I had failed. I started blaming myself for the emotional rollercoaster of the other. I abandoned myself and looked for ways I would save the other. That self-blame was the one that almost killed me. I know I am not perfect, far from it actually, but I am always learning ways to be human.
Find ways to see your role in the failure of that relationship, without invalidating your experiences. Stop romanticizing the other person especially if you are empathetic. Recognize the toxicity within you and work on it without taking the blame for people’s behavior.
In the first few weeks, you will constantly be in denial. You will hold onto the hope that this person will see your worth and come back apologetic and all that. You will hold on to the spaces they existed and you will be afraid of letting them go. During grief, you will see the good side of them and forget about the days spent in arguments, tears, and sadness. On other days, you will try and run away from grief by filling the void by attaching yourself to things such as hobbies or people who love grief. I have come to realize, there are people who are drawn to you when you going through grief because they love to suck on that energy. “The save a damsel in distress” kind of people.
During one of my therapy sessions, I was drained and crying. I was self-blaming myself and my therapist looked at me and asked, “Where are you in all this? You are still trying to save someone who left you? Where are you?” On some occasions, I shared how I have been working from outside the house, interacting with new people, and just attending events, and she asked me again, “Why are you running from the person that you are? Why are you assuming the role of your ex? You are introverted, she was always outside the house, why do you want to become her?”
Honestly, I was drained from constantly interacting with people in the outside world, but I was running from my house because, in every space, I could see her. That’s when I realized, I needed to stay in my element, grieve, and accept the breakup that had happened and we are never getting back together.
You will be triggered a lot. You might even have the best week, and then boom, a thought just crosses your mind, and everything falls apart. When people say the word breakup, I have come to realize it is not only referring to the broken heart but also stands for the broken dreams, broken plans, broken routines, broken emotions, broken worlds, broken attachments. Everything you shared with this person becomes broken. You will be triggered by even the mention of their names. Do not run away from the triggers, sit down with them and acknowledge them.
Casually, I will be triggered by a thought, and sometimes, I speak to my mind and tells it, “Alright, bring it on, let’s address what is going on!” Slowly by slowly, your triggers start to dissipate because they no longer hold any water. You should not run from your triggers unless you are not ready to handle them. Just remember, in the end, you will have to deal with every trigger to completely heal.
After the breakup, what next? There are people who will be there for you, but also want to be there for you in a larger capacity. Some people do not care whether you are going through heartbreak, or you will be toxic to them. They just want to have a piece of you and see whether they can heal you from what you are experiencing. Previously, I was a great champion for “getting under someone to get over someone else.” However, I am realizing, in this stage of life and also the capacity that I had committed to my previous relationship, I cannot just get under someone and think I am okay.
I am mastering the art of just saying no, and saying I cannot offer what you are looking at this moment. I feel this healing has to be personal. During one of my closure periods, she mentioned me being her mirror. This thing perturbed me because I love direct answers and I feel “enlightened” people have mastered the art of gaslighting people through their lack of accountability. Yes, I have said that. I love when people would just say outrightly, “I left because I hate how you chew, how you cook, how you are clingy” rather than the mumble jumbles of “big phrases.”
Anyway, yesterday I got my answer on the mirror thing: When you are in a relationship with someone, you inherit their karma. If they love stealing, you might start stealing or you will have your things stolen. Therefore, when someone does not love themselves, they might want to love themselves through you, but because they lack self-love, you might inherit that and start behaving like them even thinking like them. In the end, they will hate you because they do not like their behavior on you and this makes them leave you without any explanation.
Healing is not linear. The good thing is: Each day you grow. You will have very good days and some days, you will have very bad days. Do not fight the bad days. Sit with them. Wail and cry. I still cry so much. However, at this moment, it is not about the relationship, it is about myself. Forgiving myself. Being kind to myself. Seeing myself. Validating myself. Redirecting the love that I had for her to myself. Saving myself. On those days that I feel bitterness, I look for a space and just have a good old cry. After that, the next few days become so easier to navigate until the next bad day.
Eventually, things get better. Slowly but sure.
The breakup might feel like the worst thing that has ever happened, but that is far from it. It is a gift. You can never keep a person who does not want to be kept. You cannot save a person who does not want to be saved. This is not your job. Regardless of how things ended, there is always a gift embedded somewhere. Also, look within and you shall see, sometimes the toxic person is you. How you treated yourself during that relationship is a reflection of the relationship you have with yourself. After a breakup, the only thing you can do is glow. Rebrand and reinvent yourself. Start saving yourself. Prioritize yourself. Invest in you. Be you. Learn. Take the lessons with you so that you can go beyond your karmic lessons.
Sometimes, God removes people in your life for your clarity and greatness.
All the best in your healing journey. Each morning, you have a choice to choose which kind of day you want to have.