At the end of last year I went through a devastating break-up, the kind that ends in a pool tears on the kitchen floor-- wait, they all end that way! After a few months of licking my wounds, some adventurous online dating experiences; I’m finally feeling up to writing about it. Heartbreak is never easy and as I stand on the brink of thirty, I can also say that this wasn’t my first love and obviously, will not be my last. In my experience, everyone processes love differently. Some shutdown into silence, others invest in huge projects or “get under someone new.” For me? I’m pretty sure I’ve gone through all the phases of grief forwards, backwards and at random, until eventually landing on both my feet and cautiously moving forward. Here’s what’s helped me get through it.
There’s nothing better than feeling good about yourself physically. This winter, I learned how to snowboard, began training for a half marathon, and picked back-up with rock climbing. Can you tell I live in Northern California? Don’t worry, I’m not planning on growing dreads anytime soon. Running and yoga are especially helpful because there is a meditative component to them. If you like running, I highly recommend you pick-up, What I Talk About When I Talk About Running by Haruki Murakami. I don’t do well in team sports but if that’s your thing then look into local rec leagues. Sometimes when we are dating we get so wrapped-up in building our lives around another person, we forget about all the other amazing and independent things there are to do.
Find Your Center
When my biological family fell apart and I dropped out of highschool, I swore up and down I would take care of my siblings. The best advice I ever received as a young adult was, “Melissa, you need to go to college and start your career because you can’t take care of anyone else until you are able to take care of yourself.” I think this is true for most of life’s milestones, including finding a partner. If we aren’t striving to be the best versions of ourselves then we are unable to attract the people we want and need in our lives.
Then Get Out There
As I’ve said in the past, dating is hard. There are no if ands or buts about it. However, so is everything else we want to accomplish, find, or move towards. Whether it’s finding the perfect partnership, working on your career, or learning a new instrument, it all takes work. The sooner you start, the closer you’ll be to finding someone who is a better fit than all of those who came before.
Being OK with the Unknown
I’m a five year plan kind of gal. I like to plan for my future. This is why I love owning my own business, but this can be an anxiety inducing personality trait when it comes to relationships. While my five year plans can be flexible, I don’t do well with the unknown. A couple years ago I realized that I had to be ok with the possibility of ending up alone or more specifically, without a family of my own. It has been a hard pill to swallow, because at this point in my life, I do want children. However, after spending some time daydreaming about what my life without children could be, the idea seems less scary-- and involves a lot of travel! Accepting I cannot control my fate or the fate of others helps me live more in the moment.
Find Love Amongst the Hurt
In the Dalai Lama’s, The Art of Happiness: A Handbook for Living, there is a chapter on finding the meaning in pain and suffering. First, how many people are more qualified to give advice other than the Dalai Lama?! Very few at best. Seriously though, relationships bring things into our lives that will last forever even if those people aren’t always around. This is true for both romantic relationships and friendships. I find that focusing on all the things I can be grateful for helps me settle into a more positive understanding of my heartache. My first love is the reason I’m a Pittsburgh Penguins fan, which came in handy when I actually moved to Pittsburgh. Former friends have brought music, art and books into my life that I may never have stumbled across without them. It is probably to the credit of my last relationship that I floss and wipe down my kitchen counters every night -- homeowners are a particular breed! All these are positive things -- great things even -- and learning experiences I can cherish despite not having the people who brought them into my life around anymore.
The truth is when a relationship ends, that person (sometimes we are the ones walking away) makes a choice to leave. It proves that they will not be there through sickness and health….yada yada yada. I think everyone deserves to have people who stay, who stick it out, standing by our sides while making decisions alongside us and fully accepting our flaws. That’s what makes a good partner and a good fit. It is also what gets you through babies, sleepless nights, and not always liking the person you wake-up to.
And if babies aren’t a part of the picture... There’s always Southeast Asia.