Break-up, don’t break down

Give a positive spin to your break-up

Don't let heartbreaks dictate your every move.

Break-ups in a way, are a lot like pimples. They’re painful, make you asocial and often invite a barrage of advice and suggestions — some well-meaning, but most often, unsolicited. If your friends follow the Sex and the City relationship guide, they’ll probably hand you a tub of ice of cream, invite you to a cocktail binge or stand by you through an impulsive rebound. Some will insist on you downloading a dating app and a few others will ask you to ‘just get over it’. These are all reasonable options to consider of course, but how you conquer the gloom depends entirely on you. Whether to mope generously like the heartbreak poster boy Devdas or rise with a new set of wings a la Kangana Ranaut of Queen (who goes on a solo honeymoon trip after her wedding is called off) is your choice. Of course, there are the in-betweens, but here is a cool cucumber guide on how to own your break-up story like a boss.

Take your time

Firstly, take your sweet time to come to terms with the situation. There’s no need to act brave when you aren’t particularly feeling it. The first few pep talks from friends or the first few rounds of cocktails may make you believe that you’re stronger than you are. But wait for the buzz to fade — because it will. Remember, grieving is not a sign of weakness. It’s acknowledging your feelings and that is brave. Of course, this period could differ for every person, but take stock of things after a year at the most. Why a year? “Because a year covers all the trigger points that mark a relationship — like birthdays, anniversaries, festivals etc., where one might be reminded sorely about the ex-relationship and feel the need to grieve,” says spiritual life coach Khyati Birla.

Reclaim yourself

Often, being in a relationship means letting go of a piece of yourself to suit your partner. This could include giving up a habit or a hobby. One can regain those bits to make oneself whole again, suggests Khyati. Remember that there was a time when the now ex, was not in your life and you were not even aware of his or her existence. That state can be regained again with effort and determination. So go back to the dance class you couldn’t make time for, or the movies you could never agree to watch together. Heck, blast that music your ex always thought was a bit tacky to listen to in public.

Be positive, radical even

PhD student Shalini Kumar will tell you how deciding to relocate to a different country to pursue her academic goals was the best outcome of an amicable break-up with her boyfriend of two years. “The time I was supposed to be ‘sad and mopey’, I was attending orientation and meeting new people on a completely new continent. So the initial novelty of it all numbed everything. I’d say things came back to me in pieces (likely compounded by general nostalgia/homesickness), and we didn’t cut off all communication, so I probably went through multiple little heartache sessions every once in a couple of months. I channelled my negative energy into my new life — it helped that the coursework was so demanding there wasn’t much time to think about other things.”

While moving out of the country may not be an option for everyone, one can certainly move out of the mental space that the relationship limited you to. The best way to do this is to immerse yourself in a new activity or project that gives structure to your thoughts and a vent to the inertia.

Avoid short-term relief

A failed relationship can leave you under-confident or even numb. But make sure you give yourself all the time to recover and don’t seek respite in alcohol, drugs or mindless rebounds. These are meant to numb the pain for a while and more often than not, end up making things worse than they were, to begin with. “In the recovery period, you are bound to reminisce and remember and even have a pity party. Give yourself some time to recover. Seek counselling to help you organise your thoughts and minimise your pain if required. It’s a myth that only ‘damaged’ people visit a therapist. You can visit a therapist even to learn life-coping strategies,” clarifies Khyati.

Don’t stalk your ex online

Of course, doing this in the physical world is an offence, but we’re referring to the online stalking that, as we all know, is quite a slippery slope. Stalking an ex online will pull you further and further away from your recovery. Of course, you don’t need to cut off all communication, but if you find your fingers scrolling through the ex’s timeline more often than you’d like, take a break from social media for a while or temporarily block their profile. Drunk dialling and texts are big ‘no’ of course. Put your phone away if you think you’re headed that way.

Have no regrets

Twenty-six-year-old Surabhi, an advertising professional, admits she was a ‘weeping, dysfunctional, self-deprecating mess’ for a good three to four months after the break-up because it hit her when she was least expecting it. While in retrospect she’d have liked to tone down the “drama” she indulged in, there’s nothing Shalini would like to change about the course of events in her life. “I wish I’d been less messed up after. But maybe I picked myself back up to come back stronger because of the bad decisions I made in my dark and twisted phase. I think my friends would want to change a whole lot of that phase though, they really got the short end of the stick with me,” she adds with a chuckle.

Aakash Jain agrees entirely with Surabhi. “Every high and low in life is a lesson.
A major heartbreak is certainly a huge lesson and I wouldn’t trade that for anything. It taught me to dust myself off and carry on.”

Treat it as a learning experience

Make sure you treat it as a lesson — not just a romantic one, but a life lesson. Shalini for one says she never cherished her strong female bonds as much as she does now. “I also unlearned a few things. I realised that in college, I focused far too much on building romantic relationships, and suddenly having that “security” yanked away meant I had to find new people to connect deeply with. It could be luck or coincidence or call-it-what-you-want, but I found a group of very like-minded, strong-willed people on my new campus that I completely forgot about dating.

The other thing, it’s taken a lot of introspection, living and fending for myself to realise how I function independently. I am still working on getting to a point where I wouldn’t need to be with someone but I would like to.”

Having said that, you know yourself better than anyone else and the man/woman in the mirror is probably your best sounding board. Chart your own bouncing-back plan. But most importantly, know that time is the best healer and there’s a sunshine story just around the corner. You just need to take your time to get to it.

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Break-up, don’t break down


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