How to Go Through a Breakup (As an Empowered Woman)

A while back, I watched a dear female friend of mine go through a breakup. She is one of those wise, evolved, and highly conscious women with whom I am proud to journey through life.

Watching her go through her breakup reminded me that most “breakup advice” out there completely ignores the possibility that you can bring your biggest, most expansive, and most loving self to a break-up.

Nobody ever talks about the possibility of having a “beautiful” breakup. But I think we need to.

Nobody ever talks about the possibility of having a “beautiful” breakup. But I think we need to.

So while this is a bit of a departure from my normal blog topics, this is the “how to go through a breakup” article that I wish I could have read in Cosmo as a teenager.

1. You do not need a reason to want to leave. And neither does your partner. “Because I want to” is enough. You will feel pressured to come up with logical reasons, and I encourage you to explore them, if you’re the one who wanted to break up. But don’t judge yourself as evil or stupid, just because you don’t know what your reasons are, and resist the urge to force your partner to come up with logical reasons, if they are struggling to do so. We don’t always know why we want what we want; sometimes there is just a voice deep down in our hearts or bellies that says “I want to leave.” Let that be enough of a reason. The truth is, you don’t want to be with anyone whose heart or belly is telling them to leave you, and you don’t want to stay with someone who your heart or belly is telling you to leave.

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2. The pain ebbs and flows. Sometimes you’ll forget you’ve just had your heart ripped out, and other times you’ll be able to focus on nothing else. Sometimes for a moment when you’re distracted, or when you first wake up in the morning, you’ll get this weird, nagging feeling like you’re forgetting something. You’ll wonder for a split second “what did I forget?” and then in an instant it will all come rushing back: It’s over. I’m alone. I’m scared and lonely and in so much pain. It will hurt just as much, every time you remember. Sometimes you will think you’ve already hurt the most you can hurt, and then you’ll hurt harder. But it ebbs and flows. Allow the pain to flow in like a brutal tide, and allow it to flow out to give you some rest and reprieve. Don’t feel guilty for feeling better when you do, and don’t fall into the trap of believing the pain will never go away. Eventually you’ll go minutes and then hours and eventually days without remembering the desperate ache of it. Allow it to ebb and flow.

3. Breaking up is not always a failure. Sometimes it’s just choosing to stop journeying together; to close the book on a series of successful chapters because the time is right. It will always hurt, but sometimes a breakup is the most authentic and beautiful choice a partnership can make together, and that should never be considered a failure.

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4. You will feel overwhelming tidal waves of intense and shape-shifting emotions for a while. You will feel like conflicting levels of swirling madness are all competing for space inside your body. You might feel like you’re just one deep breath away from cracking down the center, or exploding. At one point or another, you will simply not be sure if you can handle it. Trust me when I say you can. You are big enough and strong enough to handle it all; you’re bigger and stronger than you’ve ever known. Let this breakup prove it. Imagine yourself expanding, opening up vast containers of space inside you. Imagine that you’re big enough and spacious enough to hold all those feelings of rage, failure, gratitude, sadness, hurt, fear, longing, and everything else. When the waves of emotion come crashing and you’re afraid they’ll drown you, return to this image, and remember that you are big enough and strong enough to hold them all within you.

5. Reach out to people, and tell them exactly what you need. You might feel like nobody will understand, or be afraid of becoming that depressed girl who can’t hold a conversation without crumbling. But we’ve all crumbled. Most people shy away from offering help only because they don’t know what you need, and they don’t feel adequate. People will surprise you with their support if you give them the chance. Be as specific about what you need as you can. “Hi, I’m sad and I need someone to listen,” is always a good place to start.

6. Despite the incredible feelings of loneliness and isolation that come with two people separating, you are not alone.  Maybe you’re still in the middle of it, and you’re not ready to reach out to people yet. That’s ok. But in those moments when tidal waves of loneliness and rage and fear and shame threaten to swallow you whole, remember that other people feel this. At various points in our lives, we have all felt all of the things you’re feeling. No breakup is the same, but the human heart is universal. You are not alone. Repeat it over and over. Other people feel this. Other people feel this. Other people feel this.

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7. Get sadder. Sadness is the way out, but you need to fully embrace it. Sadness flows in to carry you from the old thing to the new thing. Let it offer you a proper mourning period, and don’t resist it. Make time and space to feel sad. Make it your full-time job for a while. Cancel everything except the bare necessities and focus on feeling sad, every day, until you don’t need to feel so sad anymore.

8. Grieve for your collective losses. Grief is like a train. Every time you grieve, you add a new car to your train, and every time you experience grief, that entire train runs through you, bringing back your lifetime-collection of pain and loss. You are not just mourning the loss of your partnership, you are mourning the loss of everything you have ever lost. Let yourself. Grieve for your innocence. Grieve for the bike you didn’t get on your 7th birthday. Grieve for your first love, and for all the rest. Grieve them all, fully and unabashedly, and eventually the train will pull away.

9. Slow down. You will want to rush through the pain, and reach out to get closure, and hurry up to the “I’m ok now, so we can be friends, right?” part. But you can’t. There is a natural  order, a timeline, that you can’t rush. You can’t know how long it will take to heal and restore yourself to normalcy, but I promise you that it will take longer than you want it to. The feeling of unbearable tension in your chest might seem like it’s telling you to take action and do something right now, but it’s not. It’s just telling you that this sucks. Slow down. Breathe. Give yourself more time and space than you think you can tolerate, and then give yourself some more.

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10. Forgive. You can probably name a million ways in which you fucked this up, or your partner fucked this up, or someone else fucked it up. But nobody fucked it up. We are, all of us, just doing the best we can. Every major decision is the result of the million tiny decisions that led up to it. You are both free of blame and completely responsible at the same time. The desire to “blame” someone is a way of squishing a big and complex story into a tiny box with a neat bow. That’s not how it works, and you’re capable of handling the big and complex truth. That means forgiving yourself, forgiving your partner, and forgiving anyone else who got caught in the crossfire. Forgiveness will set you free and pave the way for your Higher Self to participate in the healing.

11. Speak your truth, but let go of the outcome. Speak it to whomever needs to hear it, but don’t expect things to be solved by doing this. Your truth will probably not heal or fix anything, but speak it anyway. That way those words won’t get stuck inside you to spoil and rot silently for the next week or year or decade. If you speak your truth and it gets rejected, then you will be a brave, sad person. Being brave and sad is so much better than just being sad.

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12. It feels like you’re dying, and in some ways: you are. Let yourself die, because dying is the only way you can be reborn. A breakup is a chance to be reborn. Give it purpose by allowing yourself to be remade. Ask yourself tough questions and feel through the answers. Who have you been up until now? Who are you really? What are you ready to let go of, and what does your heart most desire? Let this breakup propel you into Becoming yourself, more fully and unabashedly. You can forge something authentic and beautiful out of this pain. That way, when all the hurt has cleared, you’ll be able to look back with gratitude and pride and say “that made me who I am today.”

 
 

I am passionate about helping women learn to love their bodies. That includes unlearning what a woman “should” be, feeling empowered and confident in yourself, embracing your authentic power, and creating a life so kick-ass and beautiful that you hardly have any time or energy left over to think about how your body looks. 😉

That’s why I created The Empowered Women Project

— for women like you, who are sick of being judged for what you look like, and want to focus instead on all the amazing things you can do and be. Click here to know more

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