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Sunday, 18 January 2015

Breaking Up: A Survival Guide.

Things have been a little quiet round these parts for a couple of months now. I guess you could say that I've been in a bit of a blogging rut. But when I wasn't exactly feeling myself, the last thing I wanted to do was blog. Slowly but surely, however, I could feel myself recovering. It's a cliché that rings painfully true but time really is the best healer. I always knew I'd get through the heartbreak, I'd been through tougher times before, but often nothing can prepare you for the pain of losing someone you truly love. At the time, writing the post 'Heartbroken... yet Hopeful'  was extremely therapeutic - but that cathartic feeling only lasted about a day. For those first few weeks following the break-up, I was incredibly impatient. I didn't want to feel sad anymore. I hated myself for feeling so broken and lost. I was unhappy in the relationship, I got out, so therefore I should have been fine. I expected myself to bounce back quickly. I didn't factor in time to mourn the loss - because that's what a break-up is, it's dealing with the loss of someone you loved. However, it's been nearly two months since it happened and I've reached a point where I feel like I've learnt from this experience. I thought it was about time I shared it on LydiaLulu.

Take Care of Yourself. 

Sounds obvious but it's so important. When the relationship started falling apart, my appetite was the first thing to go. Even when we were still together I felt sick all the time and couldn't stomach more than my usual crazy caffeine intake. I suppose it was my body's way of telling me that something wasn't right. When I finally ended the relationship, it only worsened. I knew that I had to eat, but at that point in time, I simply couldn't. A lot of people assumed I was on a post-break-up diet when in actual fact I couldn't have cared less about my appearance. It was only when I returned home at Christmas that my mother knocked some sense into me and made sure I was having three meals a day. It's so tough when you're feeling emotionally torn-up and vulnerable but there are some things that you can't let slide. 

Listen to Advice... within reason.

I was very lucky that I was surrounded by people who had been through break-ups around the time my own relationship ended. It was a comfort knowing that they understood how I was feeling and that I wasn't on my own. Additionally, people that have experienced heartbreak themselves dish out some great advice. Plus, they were always happy to indulge in some retail therapy with me. Those last two weeks of my first semester were really challenging just because I felt so down but it was my university friends that told me it was okay to feel sad. When Jonny and I were fighting all the time I tried so hard to hide it from everyone. By the time we actually broke up, I couldn't hide my devastation. Like I wrote here, I received all kinds of advice in the days after it happened. And sometimes, crying over a cliché break-up chick flick did help! Equally, there are some break-up 'solutions' that will never be for me - rebounds are never a good idea, just sayin'. 

Do what makes you happy. 

It wasn't until after Jonny and I ended that I realised how dependent I had become. I hated it. I had never been a girl to pin all her hopes and dreams on a guy - I had always prided myself on my independence and the fact that I didn't need someone else to make me happy.  I love my family, my animals, my friends, exploring London, listening to music, baking cakes for no reason, and I will always be a bookworm no matter what happens. But after the break-up it felt like everything I loved had been tainted. Even my beloved blog. Every time I took my dogs out I was reminded of walking them with him. There are parts of London that I will always associate with him now. My favourite songs brought back memories or described how I was feeling so perfectly that I could be reduced to tears in a matter of seconds. I was still rooted in the life we shared together while he was either enjoying his university life in Portsmouth or with his family in Ledbury. Feeling like your whole life has been tainted by a person was horrible and, as far as I know, there is no solution to this one other than time. I no longer feel like everything in my life belongs to him. I'm my own person. One of my best friends told me to see it like this, 'Of course you were happy when you were with Jonny. But your happiness didn't solely depend on him, there were other factors in your life that brought you pleasure. And they're still there now.' For me, it was really about reclaiming them and being in charge of my own happiness. 

Not all guys are bad.

It's natural to think badly of the opposite sex after you break up... at least I like to think so. I spent a lifetime wondering how could this wonderful person change so dramatically, and in such a short space of time, and hurt me so deeply? At times it felt like he was doing it deliberately. For the vast majority of our relationship, Jonny was perfect. It hurts to even write that because thinking about how lovely he was causes so much pain. But it doesn't mean it isn't true and I can't deny how happy we were for a time. At first, I would half-jokingly declare that 'men suck' but looking back on it, I was just trying to make sense of it all. Obviously you can't blame all men for one guy's mistakes. I've realised that now.  The guy I fell in love with was perfect... the guy he became when he went to university wasn't right for me. Not all men are bad, that's a given. Some of my best friends at university are guys and they're so much fun to be around. 
NB. But if you really need to hate on menkind for a bit, binge-watching 'Gilmore Girls' worked wonders for me. 

Cut off all contact. 

This was my biggest mistake. When I returned home for Christmas, I expected to feel magically better and as good as new. But I was still in the upsetting phase where everything reminded me of him. I couldn't stop dwelling on the last time I'd seen him and his awful behaviour. I hated that that was my last memory of him. So I made the irrational decision to call him. I understand why I did it but I really wish I hadn't. It opened Pandora's Box and resulted in a week of on-and-off texting with a far from desirable conclusion. Jonny was my partner for a year and a half and I think it's safe to say that we were closer than the average couple - I called him that Sunday night because I wanted him to make me feel better. He was the person I always went to when I needed love and comfort. A part of me still hadn't accepted that he couldn't be that person anymore. Now I have.

Take Each Day as it Comes. 

Break-ups are tough. You lose the person you love and your best friend in one fell swoop. A lot of my friends didn't understand why I was so upset - I was the one who ended the relationship after all. But it really wasn't that simple. I loved him but he was no longer good for me. He became someone else - and that's still something I struggle to comprehend. The boy I fell in love with wouldn't have treated me that way, he wouldn't have put me in that impossible position. It's only now that I'm starting to feel 'normal' again. After it happened, I'd have my good days and my bad days. Now I have good days with the occasional bad moment when I wonder how he is or just admit that I miss him. I have no choice but to focus on the horrible end of the relationship - it's what gets me through or else I'd be forever stuck in the past. I take comfort in the fact that I was always honest with myself. I had to recognise that I was unhappy and was forced to acknowledge that he didn't want to make the effort. I'd be lying if I said that didn't hurt... but knowing that I loved him with everything I had and that I tried so hard to save us has helped me move on. It means that I was true to myself in spite of everything.

When it first ended, I couldn't bear being on my own - I spent as much time with friends as humanely possible. But then last night, instead of going out like I usually do at university, I decided to stay in, catch up with magazines, and painted my nails while listening to embarrassing amounts of Taylor Swift.  I felt really happy. I felt like myself again. 
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