Note: While we’ve addressed this article to women, the advice applies equally to men.
He’s dumped you. What advice is on offer here? Pick yourself up? Get over it? Life moves on? Well, it does, in the end. You will – but that won’t happen straight away. There’s more than a little unhappiness to get through first. Rule one: don’t be ashamed of admitting that and letting it happen.
It can be much as it is when someone close to you dies. You feel – nothing, shock, disbelief, at a weird, observable distance from what you thought was reality. Then it starts to hit. There’s the abyss, and the tears come. Rage – and, in broken relationships, the mortifying feeling of having been rejected. Then it settles and there is grief. Then there is healing.
There’s some room for immediate rationalisation, words and half-baked thoughts which will cover it up a little and shelter you from the worst extremities of loss. ‘Oh well, we had our time.’ ‘It was hurting me anyway.’ ‘Now I can get on with my life.’ ‘Better that it happened now, I suppose, rather than later.’ Some room. You can keep the words running across the surface of your deepest feelings while you readjust. It’s perhaps best not to try to take on everything straight away. Go little by little, then we stay sane.
Ultimately, though, there comes the time to exist awhile in the space where there are no words. That’s one of the problems here: there really are no words. That’s one of the things that hurts so much. It is exactly as if a part of you has been taken away. You can’t confront it or demand yet more explanations – scream at it: why, why, why – because it’s not there. The warm, glowing centre of life has suddenly, unaccountably vanished. Even your tears don’t manage to capture it, to get it back.
It’s important you give yourself time to feel small. So you’re big and happy and liberated – modern – right? Don’t be afraid to let that projected self-image crumple a little while you reconstruct. You need to go through the process of grieving. Don’t think that you shouldn’t be feeling what you do. It doesn’t make you weak or less of a person. It just means you’re human.
Believe this: once you accept the reality and let yourself cry it will soon be over. It won’t hurt that much again. You will return to it occasionally – healing takes time – but the worst will have passed. You don’t want it to pass? That too is natural. It is natural to hold onto grief as the confirmation of the reality of that person and that relationship – as the proof that it was real and really meant something. And that need too will pass.
Curl up, find some time to sit there on your own, licking your wounds. Then one day you’ll wake up and discover you’ve come back to life. You’ll start looking around again, noticing other people again. How pretty the world looks! It will become time to treat yourself, take yourself shopping, have a day at a health spa… Enjoying life. You might even feel a little foolish for the way you let yourself get so worked up about that tosser! At that point, play the field and enjoy being single. Pretty soon you’ll be considering new relationship-material possibilities and letting your emotional doors swing wide open. It’ll be time to think: ‘Have I learnt nothing!’ Then just going along with it, up for the ride.