The Zen of breaking up.
Recently a friend of my significant other went through a bad break up, as usual in times of need I was called upon for my unique perspective on these things. As is normal it takes a while for people to take my advice, when they do eventually hear me and act on what I’ve said it usually turns out for the best. Now let’s get this completely clear, this isn’t me tooting my own horn, it turns out that the advice I give is usually the best advice anyone can give. I helped her through this by telling her a few things and while it hasn’t made everything better it at least gave her the advice and answers she needed in order to move on with her life, which she is in the first stages of as I write this.
When one experiences separation from someone they love it is without a doubt painful and shattering, even more so when they still love that person and these feelings are not reciprocated. This is the most painful break up of all. This girl was/is experiencing the worst kind of break up possible with its mix of unreciprocated love and unanswered questions, I have been talking to her about it for the a few months. During these months she’s tortured herself and today she finally confronted him and got her answers, though not the ones she was looking for they have provided some degree of comfort for the poor girl. I feel I have done good here. In a fifty five minute telephone conversation I explained to her what I am now calling the Zen Of Breaking up. These pieces of advice are for anyone who is experiencing a break up of any fashion, they are designed to help you move on and continue with your life. I will outline the advice given in this post. I did my utmost not to let my cynicism creep to deeply into that advice given while not being overly positive and giving the person a false sense of hope.
1.) You must confront the person whom you’ve broken up with.
This applies especially to instances where relationships have ended with questions unanswered, you must talk to the person and ask the question, you should never let your fear or any other emotion get in the way of your quest to find truthful answers. At the same time do not obsess over getting these answers, be clear and concise in your inquiry. Also remember that the answers you get, if they are indeed the truth, will most likely not be the ones you were looking for. The truth hurts, this is a fact. Once you have your answers you may inquire further but do not dwell on the answers you have been given or the questions that remain or you will never be able to move on. You might not even get an answer at all, in this case see two. Remember everybody lies, whether it be to protect themselves or even you. If someone has lied to you about why they broke up with you it is probably a truth not worth knowing. In some cases things happen for no reason at all and it is best to accept that as an answer to avoid further suffering.
2.) Stop asking the question.
This is a slight continuation of the first point. When you have the answer, or at least an answer that you are satisfied with you must then stop asking questions or the question. To keep questioning after it is over is stupid and futile, it will only cause you further pain. If you have persistently asked the question without receiving an answer it is best to stop asking it. This is your life it is ticking away one second at a time, do not devote so much time to finding the answer to a question that you fail to continue living. Such a question is not worth asking.
3.) This is not the end of the world.
Sure it feels like it is, I wouldn’t want to be you right now. At the end of the day nothing is static, change is the nature of life itself. Things have changed and they will change again this much is certain. You will find someone else, your life does not and will not end here. If you are still convinced that it is you must get over yourself, nobody is that perfect.
4.) Do not punish yourself.
If it isn’t your fault, if it is and you feel guilty you must know when to stop. You must realize the futility of punishing yourself even more so for break ups that were far beyond your own control. You cannot control everything and you cannot hold yourself accountable for everything even if it was your own doing. Remember this. If you are still friends with the person you broke up with you must ask yourself whether maintaining a relationship with this person is: A) a coping mechanism or B) just another means of torturing yourself, if you answered B then the relationship is not worth maintaining.
5.) Time heals all wounds.
This is utter bullshit, action and time together heal wounds, time alone allows them to fester and become more poisonous than one could ever imagine. Bitterness and time can warp a person’s mind. Don’t leave anything unsaid, if you feel it get it out, if you need to do something do it, as long as it is productive in understanding why are in your current position or in coping with your current situation.
6.) Do not let this relationship dictate all to come.
We learn from our mistakes, sometimes however we apply these lessons negatively and they shape all our future relationships, if this is the case then we never really learned anything. Sure it went bad this time but it doesn’t necessarily mean all future relationships will be bad. Look at each new relationship with a fresh pair of eyes, carrying the lessons you learned from the past not directly acting upon them unless completely necessary. Do not let these lessons and bad experiences shape experiences to come. Mistakes are meant to be painful, how else would we learn from them?
7.) This may go against everything you’ve ever been taught.
Be selfish, this is for you not the person you broke up with. You need closure. You need answers and that person sure as hell doesn’t care too much about you anymore or they’d still be with you. At the end of the day you have to think of yourself. In a month or a year your ex will not be thinking about you so you have to think of yourself and not of them not matter how much you love/ loved them. It comes to a point where you must devalue the feelings of your ex to less than your own. Who cares if confronting them for answers will make them uncomfortable? You need those answers, therefore you will get them regardless of the feelings of your ex. Be selfish in moderation however.
8.) Dealing with it.
There are no right or wrong ways to do this, some drink, some do drugs, some work. The point of all of these activities is filling your time/ busying or numbing your mind. The best thing to do in this situation is to busy yourself. This can be done at work or with friends, it is best however to do it with friend as being sociable is likely to get your invited out again provided you’re not a complete mess in front of everyone. Going out is likely to get you invited out again, which could lead to you meeting someone else interesting and a lot more compatible for you. Even more so going out, having a drink and having fun helps take your mind of the thing that pains you so. Working late and such does the same thing but it is a lot more healthy for you to exercise this point in a social setting as it will be a better outlet for your feelings. Friends are better than colleagues. Continue life as you did before you met the your ex.
Do not shy from social interaction at this stage, isolation can make getting over it near impossible for some. You may need to make it clear to the dim half of your friends that your ex is not acceptable topic of conversation right now. People are idiots after all.
9.) Do what makes you happy.
Whatever it may be. Relax, use your time for you doing whatever you please. In short, you are entitled to be a little selfish.
10.) They’re your ex, don’t be afraid of them.
If you’re an unlucky individual who has to speak to or interact with your ex and it isn’t your choice the best thing you can do is just to act normal, as normal as possible. Say hello, don’t be bitter or at least don’t show it. This will make your environment less hostile for everyone involved. If you’re a person who chooses to maintain a relationship with an ex, you’re very brave indeed, acting normal or as friends would will make it less awkward for everyone. This is especially important for those who are now ‘just friends.’
11.) There is no such thing as Just Friends.
There will always be emotions to complicate things, even if you don’t want to be just friends and the feeling isn’t mutual it is probably best to never mention it even if they know. It just makes things easier on both of you. The environment is less hostile and if you’re holding onto the hope of relighting the flame this is the best way about it.
12.) Don’t count on rekindling dead romance.
It is very rare, for the most part it just doesn’t happen. Try once if you need to, though you have a 90% failure rate, after that trying again is just idiotic.
13.) Past is past.
What happened happened you cannot change the past, dwelling on it is not going to help anyone. Instead of dwelling on it look to the future but always live for today. ‘This is your life and it is ending one minute at a time.’
14.) Don’t go looking for someone else right now.
You should let them come to you, don’t actively search for another partner straight away. After all enjoy being single for a while, it will be a refreshing change after you rediscover its benefits. It is also important to have your head straight before you think of entering another relationship. A new relationship is one of the best ways to forget about an old one and make you realize that your ex wasn’t and isn’t as great as you thought.
15.) A lesson learned.
Use this failed relationship as a lesson in a new one. Learn from your failings and become a better person in general. However as mentioned never let your failures define you. Feel like crap for as long as you need to but your primary concern throughout the break up should be acceptance ‘it is what it is, therefore I must move on’ the faster you realize this the better and the easier it will be for you. Try and test as many coping mechanisms as you can and take what works, discard that which does not.
I will probably add more to this as time goes by, note that this is a work in progress. The best thing you can do to deal with a break up is forget about it even if you don’t want to. The best part of this final tip is that you don’t particularly have to do anything in order to forget about someone. Do you remember your 5th birthday? Didn’t think so, time erases all memories. Everyone you know goes away in the end, in one way or another. After action has been taken time will allow you to forget that person, even if you don’t forget them it will allow you to forget the small details onto which the painful memories are attached, with time it all becomes a distant portrait of a life once lived and with happiness a relationship past loses meaning. It becomes irrelevant. You will come to realize that nothing really matters, it only has the meaning that you give to it.