Aren’t you supposed to get married soon” is the usual question when I run into a friend? It’s been hard for me to admit, but the answer is: -yes, I was engaged, but not anymore -. It feels strange while I am writing this down. To be honest, it’s not easy to share this post, but I had a feeling I had to. I am aware that it’s quite a shock to most people. Mostly it was shocking to me. If you are a regular reader of this blog, you might know that I was engaged to be married to my boyfriend Emiel on April 10, 2016. Emiel popped the question after we were dating for about a year and a half. We had a feeling we had a very deep connection. Deep enough to take this big and beautiful step.
We were extremely happy and many times people would tell us that we were an inspiration to them. We traveled extensively together, mostly in Indonesia where our grandparents were born. You might remember that Emiel took most, if not all the photography for this blog. He was great at it and we made a very good team. We made plans for the future and thought that we would grow old together. After 4 and a half years together and so many special life events, Emiel and I started growing apart and we felt no longer compatible. Then it happened, it was horrible, it was ugly, but in February we had to break off our engagement. Our breakup was very unexpected and it just shook me to my core. To be honest, it was one of the toughest, most heart-wrenching decisions we had to make.
The sharp pain of loss was real. It took months to feel a little normal again. I couldn’t even imagine how to continue moving forward. Forward alone without Emiel. In my world, he was my best friend, my rock, my partner for life. It hurt deeply when I realized we would never have a future together anymore, and that once again I would be alone. For weeks I felt absolutely heartbroken and devastated. I couldn’t eat, sleep or function normally, but I tried. Then the tears came and I thought they would never stop. Everything reminded me of him. Foods, smells, memories, our favorite spots. It felt unbearable. I felt sadness, anger, embarrasment, betrayal and fear in the worst way possible. “How could this be”? I would think. How could we not be that couple that we promised each other to be? Never had I imagined that we would not grow old together. I felt like the worst failure and that feeling was eating me alive.
Then I started to think everything over. Analyzing our relationship, the way we had been with each other, our faults, our mistakes, our shortcomings, but also the love and friendship we shared. I took long walks, meditated and prayed. One thing was for sure. I did not want to feel like this for too long. Feeling bitter, angry and this horrible sense of failure? I really mourned and I mourned well. It literally felt like someone had died. I allowed to really feel the pain of separation and loss, but I also wanted to start enjoying life again. I had to forgive, and move on. I had to accept the fact that life can turn out this way and sometimes people will have to go their separate ways. From the moment I decided I wanted to heal, to let go, I started to feel better. All of a sudden healing felt easier. I started to smile again. It was all a matter of forgiving Emiel and mostly myself. It was the only way to rebuild my life.
So what did I do? How was I able to move on? It wasn’t easy, but here are some things that helped me work through the pain and get over my breakup
Finding support from people you trust the most is a huge help when you’re feeling down and out. Being able to talk about your feelings is key when getting over a breakup. I slept so much better after sharing my feelings with my mom and dad or even a good friend. The nights we stayed up late and being able to vent everything out really helped me to put things in perspective. You might feel like you are constantly repeating yourself over and over, but your loved ones will understand and help you through it. You might need a listening ear or just a fun night out with your best friends. Maybe you need a box of chocolates in the middle of the night or a few glasses of wine – don’t turn into an alcoholic though-. Ask for help. This is really the time to reach out and spend time with the people you love the most.
Depending on how bad the breakup was, it might help to schedule an appointment with a good therapist, Letting your emotions out by talking to a specialist who will guide you through the grieving process can be extremely helpful. Of course, not every therapist is the right one for YOU. You need to find one that works best for you. It’s great to get unbiased feedback while processing everything that happened. You’ll be surprised how many realizations and how much clarity you can gain through committing to weekly sessions.
Feeling down on yourself? What really helped me was taking up new and adventurous challenges. I thought it would help me feel better about myself to go out and tackle a particular fear. I’ve always been afraid to learn how to drive, so my next step was to sign up for driving lessons. I was surprised that I became a fast learner and how much I enjoyed driving. It was great to feel in control of my life and that I was taking charge by learning new things that used to scare the hell out of me.
Don’t do anything that you will regret! Don’t stalk your ex on social media or in real life. Don’t delete or block them from social media -unless they are harassing you- Don’t make a fool out of yourself by talking trash about your ex. You will regret it and you have no idea how any bad move can affect you in the future. Stay classy, handle the situation with dignity and don’t let bitterness get in the way of your kindness and self respect.
Practice self-love! Taking extra care of your skin, hair, weight, working out, or even buying a completely new wardrobe will help you feel a tad bit, if not a whole lot better. Taking care of yourself is a great confidence booster and at a time like this, feeling good about yourself is what you need the most. Don’t feel guilty about it either. It’s time to do YOU now. Buy that pair of ridiculously expensive shoes. You only live once and you might need them for a new date in the future. Just saying!
My dad and I immediately started repainting my home in the week following my breakup. First I cleaned out closets and removed everything that reminded me of Emiel. I even threw out the couch we bought together and got rid of our dining table. I burned sage incense to clear out old energies and cleanse my enviroment. I scored some new kitchen utilities, flowers, plants and even new bed linens I needed my home to feel like it was my own again. Creating a new space that felt like a new beginning was very healing for me.
I would go through bouts of anger and sadness. My lifesaver was to write down all my feelings in a daily journal. Re-reading my pent up emotions helped me greatly to see things in a different light.
I would literally get depressed going to the local grocery store we used to go to together. It was bad. I would be mid tears staring at a box of rice. Do yourself a favor and find a new corner store. Find a new favorite hole in the wall restaurant – switch things up! It’s a time in your life for new energy and new routines. Embrace the unknown and you might just be surprised and discover a new favorite spot down the street and get to make new friends.
Don’t rush the healing process. Don’t sign up for an account on Tinder a week after your breakup – how about staying away from Tinder period -. I made a vow to take my time, and surprisingly I started to feel better much sooner than I had expected. It might take three months to get over the worst pain, but don’t feel bad if it takes more than a year. Just focus on making YOU happy. So whether you’re pressuring yourself or a friend or family member is pressuring you to get right back out there – don’t do it. Listen to your gut and your heart. Heal your heart first, and get back out there for the right reasons and you’ll be amazed at what happens!
Forgiveness can be challenging, especially when the offending party offers either an insincere apology or nothing at all. However, it’s often the healthiest path forward, allowing us to acknowledge the wound, understand the other party’s perspective, and process our emotions in non-hurtful ways.
If you feel like you’ve lost touch with that amazing, strong, vibrant woman inside of you, then start by reading DVF’s “The Woman I Wanted To Be,” go on a solo trip, and get yourself a strong set of self care rituals. Once you become your own best friend – your pain will start melting away – I promise it really will! – and you will get that pep back in your step. When you love and respect and honor yourself and your feelings you become a magnet for all the good things in life. Read “The Secret” if you haven’t already and you’ll get it!
Of course, I am very aware that I am nowhere near being a relationship expert, I only figured out what has worked best for me. Healing from a breakup takes time, and everyone is different in how they are finding their path again. As soon as you start loving yourself again, think positive thoughts, you will feel better. Believe me you will. Thankfully, I am now able to move forward in a healthy way. No bitterness, no anger, no sadness and shame. I feel hope, love and strength for a better and brighter future. Being able to feel that again has been a wonderful achievement so far.
What are some techniques or things that helped you through a difficult time? I would love to know!
XO Tamara Chloé