Breakup 101: Rebuilding

Welcome back to the jolliest thematic celebration the blogosphere has ever experienced - BREAKUP WEEK!
I know. I'm pingin' too. We've covered immediate action, we've tiptoed across the surface of the tactical iceberg that is the No Contact Rule, and now it's onto the balls to the wall free-for-all that is the long haul response: REBUILDING!

The most accurate way I can think of describing the aftermath of a truly earth-shattering breakup is thus: You are a vase. A really beautiful vase, great detailing, hella ornate, real expensive. One of the ones you wouldn't have cared about when you were younger but now you're in your 20s and it's like ok nah damn that's actually really nice and tbh would not even be mad at the Zara Home version. You know? Real great craftsmanship. Then when you get broken up with, someone takes that vase and smashes it on the ground, shattering it into 1000 different pieces. Jagged little bits. That sucks hey. Really not ideal. But not irreparable, right? WRONG. They have also kindly taken a broom and swept away half the shattered pieces of this once-baller vase, never to be seen again. So there you are, shattered on the ground, and not only do you now need to figure out how to rebuild yourself, you also have to find a way to fill those gaps where the missing pieces used to be. That is the process of moving on from a hardcore heartbreak.

The reality is, no matter how well you repair yourself, you're never going to be exactly how you were before this happened - but that doesn't necessarily need to be a bad thing. Sure, you can be a saddo and fill the gaps with chewing gum and krazy glue, but you can also go full Japanese Kintsugi and weld that shit together with molten gold, making an even more baller and unique vase than before. You were never really into the pristine vibe anyway. It's going to be difficult and a bit daunting while you figure things out, but those gaps provide an opportunity for some dazzling-ass developments that never would have been possible if you had remained intact. The moral I'm trying to get at here is that the way you come out the other end of a breakup is entirely down to your own perspective.


To kick this off, we're going to quickly go through three mentalities I would suggest avoiding post-breakup.

1. "The best way to get over someone is to get under someone else."
If this is honestly what you want to do then go ahead, but don't expect random hookups to make the process any easier than it would be otherwise. A lot of the time, according to years of watching my friends make terrible decisions (love ya #nojudgement), adding someone else into the mix just makes things more complicated and you'll usually end up in a destructive situation with someone (or several people) you don't actually have any interest in, which can distract you temporarily but will ultimately just make you feel worse. Alternatively, you find someone you do actually like, but because you haven't given yourself the time or space to properly deal with your breakup you can pretty much consider it over before it even starts. Not gonna tell you how to live ur life (jk that's my #1 favourite activity and calling), but really consider whether you're doing things because you genuinely want to or because you're trying to fill some sort or void/drown out your own feelings instead of dealing with them properly like a functional adult.

2. Fixate on things you "couldn't do before"
First of all, if your relationship was really stopping you from doing that much, or if you general view them as restrictive, that's an entirely different problem that needs to be addressed. If your relationship was relatively functional, then the things it was "stopping" you from doing are probably not fantastic ideas. It's great to focus on the future and all the things you can do, but I find that fixating negatively on the past is only going to hold you back, and chances are most of the positive things you can do now are things that you could have done in your relationship, but just didn't. Use the past for motivation if you need to, but don't build your future out of spite. That's not an energy you want to encourage moving forward.

3. Villainising your ex
It's very tempting to try and make yourself feel better by convincing yourself that your ex was actually the single worst person ever who never actually liked you and was just orchestrating one really long, elaborate prank, but that's not going to be particularly productive in the long run. Barring the instance that your ex was legitimately an absolute asshole (I don't know your life, but we're working on the assumption that this was a relatively run of the mill shitty time, rather than an episode of Game of Thrones or Maury), distorting your view of them is 1. disrespectful to an entire relationship that was presumably really important to you at some point 2. only going to make you bitter and unhappy and 3. just really unproductive. Sure, you don't want to go too far in the other direction and sugarcoat things, but you also need to be focusing on yourself and getting to a point where hopefully some day you get let go of that resentment and #smilebecauseithappened, and creating more drama for yourself is not going to help ya get there.


Now that we've touched on what not to do, let's get progressive. Here is some advice for making the rebuilding stage go slightly more smoothly. It's still probably going to be quite shit, but marginally less so if you listen to Uncle Maddi's Words of Wisdom.

Research the 5 Stages of Grief.
This is actually my mum's advice, but I'm adopting it as my own. Her first reaction to my breakup (probably after also saying something slightly more sensitive and reassuring, let's give her the benefit of the doubt) was to tell me to google the stages of grief, because I was going to become very familiar with them whether I liked it or not. I did not enjoy receiving this information at the time, but she was absolutely correct. However, do not expect them to go in order or in a perfect cycle; you're going to be bouncing from anger to sadness to bargaining and back like nobody's business.

Obtain new scents.
Never underestimate the power of smell. I don't know the legit science of it because I don't actually care, but nothing can take me slamming back in time like an unexpected familiar scent. This fact is quite unfortunate in that you're likely going to have an out of body experience every time you walk past someone who uses the same fabric softener as your ex, but you can also use this absolute minefield of emotional turmoil to your advantage. Get yourself some new perfume, body wash, shampoo, frickin hand sanitiser, whatever you need to create new scent associations in your day to day life. The entire time I was dating this guy a few months ago I was using the Bath & Body Works Twisted Peppermint body wash & moisturiser combo, and every time I smell that range it take me right awn back. That's fine now because it was overall a very enjoyable period in my life, but right after he left I wasn't exactly livin' that merry minty life, ya know? Had to pull a bit of a tactical shower switcheroo. Similarly, Body Shop Satsuma reminds me of July 2014, Pacifica Tuscan Blood Orange reminds me of August 2013 and literally anything from the DKNY Be Delicious range take me chugging on back to the glory days of middle school. This isn't a blog post about my various scent associations is it. Ok. Back to YOU! SOz. Basically kit yourself out in a whole new scent wardrobe, also get some new candles for your room. This genuinely works a treat.
You can also use this principle to your advantage in other ways, but that's a tactic for a different, much more concerning post.

Make other small but significant changes around you.
Whether that's buying new bedding (my answer to all of life's issues), getting some sik new art or rearranging the furniture in your room, make enough subtle changes that you can visually notice a difference in your environment and create that sense of separation.

Know yourself, let yourself be sad and focus on the future.
Take the advice on these fronts from the Immediate Action post and apply it long term. There's no set date that you need to wake up fine, but you do need to keep moving forward despite the fact your heart physically hurts 24/7 and ya crying out a solid 4 litres a day.

If you can, find a Breakup Buddy.
Like a moving buddy, but sadder. If there happens to be someone you're vaguely close to who is going through a breakup at the same time as you then take advantage of that and form a sad little club. Back in 2014 my good buddy Jake - with whom we are all very familiar at this point - and I got broken up with legit about 2 days apart. We ended up becoming Breakup Buddies, which basically meant we would talk to each other about whatever we were going through. This was great because 1. we were going through a lot of the same stuff, so it made us both feel less crazy 2. we knew we weren't annoying each other by continuing to talk about it because we were both still in that headspace 3. we'd sometimes give each other advice we could actually use ourselves and 4. it meant that we became a lot closer, which I obvs value w all my heart & soul now, but realistically that is more of a plus that kicked in later.

Cut off contact.
We've been through this time and time again, but that's because it really is the best advice I can give. If you've tried the No Contact Rule and it hasn't worked, you know you ultimately don't want to get back together or you feel like things are still too painful and complicated for the two of you to be chattin' without causing damage in the long run, keep that contact cut. Creating grey areas and getting hopes up on either side in the name of short-term ease is never a good way to go, and as sad as it is sometimes you just can't jump into a friendship once a relationship is over. That doesn't mean you have to hate each other and that you'll never be able to be in the same room again, but if you don't feel like being in contact is 100% the honest to god best thing for you, it's best to just leave it out. Don't force yourself to cut off any possibility of getting back together down the line if you really feel like that's what you want, but don't allow it to cloud your judgment. Rebuild and move forward on your own. If it comes back later, you'll make room for it. 

Keep busy.
I lied - cutting contact comes second in importance to keeping busy. Come up with projects and plans and trips and goals to keep yourself occupied, and try to be as productive as possible because speaking from experience everything is easier to deal with when you feel as though you're making genuine progress in at least one major area of your life. In all honesty this entire post really should have been about ways to be productive and move forward with projects post-breakup but I didn't think of that until now so we're sticking with what we've got and we'll come back to this in a more thorough capacity at a later date.

Accept you aren't a team anymore.
This is extremely painful and complicated to do, but you won't even start to wander down Recovery Road until you have.
It sounds harsh, but unless you have a child or a business together, if you've broken up you are categorically no longer a team.
You are ridin' solo, and you need to think and act accordingly. You are your concern, they are theirs.

Listen to people who care about you.
True, no one who wasn't actually in the relationship really knows the ins and outs of what went down, but outside perspectives are often a bit clearer than your own, even if they might not be what you want to hear at the time. Try and genuinely listen to the opinions of people who actually know about your relationship. "Actually know about your relationship" being the important part of that sentence, because for every well-informed opinion there will likely be a surface-level "fuck that guy". Use your own judgment when it comes to how much weight you place on people's advice, case by case, but do try to be open to advice.

Don't compare your breakup to other people's.
Or expect yourself to meet a certain timeframe for feeling "better". Yeah sure have a chat about your latest neurosis with your breakup buddy and find comfort in the similarities, but don't beat yourself up if it seems like other people move on quicker than you do. Similarly, if you feel like you've moved on faster than you expected 1. congrats and 2. don't beat yourself up for that either. Everyone works at their own pace, and things are likely to go up and down for a while. Don't expect it to get better steadily. Snakes n ladderz.

Don't become a fucking pessimist.
Just because this shit thing has happened don't let it turn you into an asshole.
Please.

Finally, DO NOT MAKE EXCUSES FOR THE OTHER PERSON.
This was my major breakthrough. Presumably you knew them better than anyone, you cared about them more than anyone and you don't want to accept that this is happening, and all of these factors are going to combine to make you want to rationalise or explain their behaviour. Your theories might be right, god knows it turned out almost all of mine were, but that doesn't change the fact that you're broken up. Literally nothing else matters, because that's the choice that's been made and that outweighs any other excuse you could possibly come up with, with the excuse of them being straight up held at gunpoint and forced to break up with you in order to save themselves and their entire family. In which case it's a police matter anyway. At the end of the day, if they want to try and fix things they will, so until that happens stop making excuses for someone who's not wasting that kind of energy on you.

And thus concludes this jolly 3 part series. I hope you have gained some kind of perspective from my abundant wisdom and otherworldly insight, whether you're going through something fresh or just enjoy wallowing in the past like my well-adjusted self. I have plenty of other relationship-related thoughts, so you can shoze heck expect those to make an appearance at some point, however for now I am gonna luv ya & leave ya. Too soon. Soz. x0

1 comment

  1. Carrying on the metaphor; I would say I'm more a delicate lil' teacup that's just only stuck itself back together and the gold leaf is coming soon I think. I don't think I'll ever be a hella' fine vase again but tea cups are more practical anyway, wow that was sad. I needed this series of posts, your wisdom is borderline professional but like the professional is also a friend and likes to share glasses of wine with you. Thank you for being my fabulous professional hella' fine virtual-vase-wine-friend and please continue with these incredibly witty and helpful posts.

    Marbl☾☽Moon

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