Around the end of winter and just before spring begins, there’s a time when trees look rather weird. There’s a bit of green left on them, and yet the floors are covered in yellow, brown leaves. A heap of them. A picture of fall, before the spring.
This is also how relationships look at times. At the first glance they might seem healthy and covered in green leaves, but when you look underneath, you’ll find a heap of dry leaves, saying something else.
Moving on is difficult
When you find yourself in such a broken relationship, and finally start noticing the cracks, you are faced with the task of moving on. We all know that this isn’t an easy task. Breakups are hard, but this knowledge doesn’t help one bit when you’re actually going through one. If you’ve been in an intense, passionate, loving relationship, it feels like your identity has merged with your partner’s. You’ve been someone’s girlfriend, or boyfriend, or spouse, or partner. You’ve been someone’s soulmate and suddenly you find that it’s not a role you get to play anymore and it can make life feel meaningless.
What’s being rational got to do with love?
We all know rationally that life isn’t meaningless at this point, but what’s rationality got to do with the broken heart? Going through this time can be awful, but trust me when I say this – it does get better. You might feel at the moment that all the colours are either too bright or too dull in your life, like you’ll never appreciate music again, but over a period of time, you certainly will. You’ll have to learn to find meaning again. Here’s how.
1. Feel the grief or any other emotion you’re feeling as long as you need
You ask any professional, any expert, anyone who’s gone through this and you’ll come up with this one top advice – Let. Yourself. Grieve. Mourn the loss of your love. Mourn the fact that you don’t get to hold them close anymore. Mourn the loss of what you used to feel for them.
While doing so, do not feel guilty if you feel free. Grieve the fact that your relationship, which you were supposed to get love from ended up caging you. You’re not meant to be caged, you’re meant to be loved and if you didn’t get that in a relationship and you feel sad allow yourself to feel so.
If you were the one who had to walk out, or made a mistake, or were left behind, mourn that too. If you don’t feel anything but are feeling guilty for it, realise that you’re judging yourself for not handling this the way you’ve been ‘told’ by the society to handle, and tell that judgment to go screw itself.
You can grieve for as long as you need, but do it only for yourself. If you want to do cartwheels because you escaped an abusive relationship, do the damn cartwheels. Your emotions, no matter what they are, are valid and deserve expression. As long as you’re not hurting anyone in the process you are allowed to express your emotions.
2. Get yourself some help if you feel like you are not stable
There’s too much stigma and not enough real conversations about mental health. While we are way too busy talking about social media trends and apocalyptic politics, we don’t think talking about mental health is important. The stigma is causing an underground epidemic and we need to talk more about how to address these things.
Trauma from the end of a relationship, the disillusionment, all of it can be too overwhelming sometimes and you might have to go see a therapist. There’s nothing wrong in doing so and you shouldn’t let anyone tell you otherwise. If you have people in your life who are judging you for going to therapy, take a break from them. If they don’t know how to support you through your pain, you don’t need to be taking their criticism either.
You might read every self-help book you can find, meditate, do yoga, hang out with your friends, see a fortune teller, go on a detox diet, go to an ashram and cross the street to walk in the sunshine, these efforts might not always be enough when dealing with a breakup. Everyone who’s tried to help you might be coming out of a place of love but they are not trained to do so. Psychiatrists and psychologists are. Thus, if you feel like you’re not happy, please get help from one of these trained professionals. Just talking to them can be helpful, and you can insist on not taking medication if you don’t want to. Just counselling and other forms of therapy have proven to be beneficial to a wide range of people and you might be one of them.
3. Fall in love with yourself
If you already love yourself you’re sorted and you don’t need to read this point (though a refresher’s course never hurt anyone!). For the rest of you this may sound a little too self-help-like, but hear me out.
There’s enough research that proves that people begin to like themselves better when they are in love. They tend to take care of themselves and appreciate themselves more when they are with someone. When you have broken up and are trying to find meaning in your life without your partner, you need to realise that all the things that they loved about you weren’t there because they loved you, they were inherent.
All the charming qualities that you have has always existed. Your ex just witnessed them, curated them and brought them to your attention. Why would you not appreciate them even without having a partner to witness them? This will work to convince you that the meaning behind your ability to love and be loved hasn’t gone away with your ex. This can be radical when trying to move on. Imagine suddenly realising that you’re not just the big lump of sadness that you’d been feeling but this amazing person who was loving and lovable?
Maybe not immediately but eventually when you are feeling less sore, you can start loving yourself and find that you are moving on, finding meaning even without the other person’s existence, because you’re giving meaning to yourself. And on that day, spring will have arrived.