Loving someone is a spectral best understood by those living its truth. Its magnetism and vulnerability bring about feelings we once forgot and charge the parts of our brains that bring us the most joy.
The constant flow of security puts us in a place we never want to leave, and oftentimes we believe we never will. But more often than not, we wind up in the deep end, gasping for air, drowning in the “what if’s” and “why’s,” staring the barbaric break-up in its ugly the face.
Why Do We Feel This Way?
At this point in our lives, whether you’re 15, 18, 25, or 32, break-ups feel debilitatingly numb and seemingly inevitable– that’s because they are, and they are supposed to be. Similar to those who have suffered from addiction withdrawals, our brains follow a corresponding path when we’ve been rejected by someone who has provided us with the happiness we thought we needed to survive. But you don’t need them to survive; your “break-up brain” just tells you that you do.
Break-ups come in all shapes and sizes and yet they still sting the same. Sometimes you have a higher pain tolerance and can move through the motions a bit quicker and sometimes it finds your achilles heel and holds you in the comfort of your own bed. Whatever the circumstance may be, moving past this phase of your life takes time.
The 6 Stages Of A Break-Up
Whether it was circumstantial, mutual, ultimatum stricken, or a first love, the healing process will follow a similar pattern and understanding each stage for what it is will help you measure your progress and learn how to overcome these obstacles.
Stage 1: Emotional Distress
Stage 1 is the open wound, the first cut, the initial shock. It’s the moment you realize it’s over and the flood of emotions suffocates your every breath– all at the same time. It’s a time where you feel the most vulnerable, the most irritated, and the most frustrated. You feel like this feeling will never go away and you’ll be stuck in the gloom until your last breath.
But you will get past this and you will prevail, nothing is ever permanent. Allow yourself to feel during this time, don’t shy away from a relieving sob or a scream into your pillow. You’ll never move on unless you get it all out, and once you do, you’ll begin to find the balance.
Stage 2: Reminiscing
Once you’ve cried until your eyes swell shut, stage two pokes its nose into your peripheral, and this guy is a double-edged sword, but you’ll see him for who he is after the bliss becomes bitter. Stage 2 is the phase of the rose colored glasses. Every memory appears to be covered in gold, and that’s because you’re only remembering the good ones. You try to find a reason for the sadness and every arrow points to the parts that made you feel whole, and not the parts that shattered your bones. When you feel like this, it’s important to remember that this relationship ended for a reason, whether you believe it or not. And please, resist the text, that usually doesn’t blow over too smoothly.
Stage 3: Rejecting All Feelings
After your moment in the sun, stage three brings the rain– the numbing, all consuming rain. At this point in your healing process you probably have no more energy left to feel anything. It’s a time where you feel like you’re out of your body, watching yourself merely exist in this world, and that’s okay.
Your lack of reaction may often lead to impulsive decision making, so it’s important to talk to someone: a friend, a relative, a therapist, to ensure that you don’t act upon those thoughts because you will regret them. And remember, don’t isolate yourself.
Stage 4: Rationalization
The vulnerability, the unsound, and the senseless figments will eventually get evicted from your brain and stage 4 will find its home. This phase introduces clarity, where the skies begin to lighten and clouds roll away. You may find yourself reminiscing on your relationship, however, this time you think about it logically. The “what if’s” become “that’s what went wrong” and the “why’s” become “that’s why it ended.”
It’s a small step in the right direction, but there’s still progress to be made. You may find yourself thinking that you don’t care anymore, and that you’re over it, but that’s just avoidance in disguise. But I promise, you’re closer to the finish line than you believe.
Stage 5: Restart and Reboot
Healing isn’t linear and it is never supposed to be. At this stage in your break-up you may feel like you’re starting all over again, and that’s okay. But in reality, you’re not starting over at all, you’re finally grieving the end of your relationship– for all that it was and all that it wasn’t. Within this stage you will feel all the emotions you felt before, but this time once you reach the end, you’ll most likely feel a sense of closure.
Stage 5 is complex as it forces you to endure the grieving process head on, with no warning. But it will make you stronger, wiser, and more self-aware. You may find yourself thinking that you and your ex-partner will soon reconcile, you may want to hurt your ex the same as they did to you, and you may find yourself back in that numb pit of despair, but that’s normal and it's healthy to progress in that way. But you need to recognize that those feelings are temporary before you can move on. After pushing through denial, anger, bargaining, and depression, you’ll step onto the podium of acceptance, a place where you begin to find peace.
Stage 6: Letting Go and Moving On
The final stage in this whirlwind is the resolution to your break-up storyline. This stage is the place for you to find yourself again, and remember what made you happy before your ex came into the picture. You finally learned how to let go of the pain and the trauma and rubbed your eyes to see the possibilities of the future.
Setting goals for yourself during this stage is a crucial asset in starting the next chapter of your story. Think about who you want to be, where you want to go, how you want to spend your time now that you’ve let go of the burdens of your past. But most importantly, prioritize yourself. You are strong and you are resilient, use those elements for all they are worth.
Talking Always Helps
Although the breakdown of a break-up is simple on paper, it is never this concise and it is never this easy. You are in a position to fix a part of you that is broken, so be patient with yourself. Remember to feel all the feelings and fully commit to the motions of healing.
It’s crucial to remember that you are never alone in this process even though sometimes you feel like you are. If you are having trouble navigating through the ins and outs of the break-up paradigm, tap into Inward and you’ll be connected with others who are trekking through a similar journey.