Each week, I’ll answer your burning questions with useful, common sense advice. Ask me anything: I know a little about a lot.
I just got dumped and I’ve been feeling pretty rough. I just want to move on with my life and forget about it all. What can I do to get past this?
Don’t Want to Deal
I’m sorry about your loss. I’m also sorry to tell you that there’s no easy way to get through this and get on with your life. The way out is through, and you have to mire through all of the terrible emotions in order to move on. You have two choices:
- Move through your feelings quickly but then deal with them for the rest of your life; or
- Allow yourself to grieve and eventually have peace in your heart.
I know both options blow. No one likes to be dumped, and then to add insult to injury, you’re expected to deal with the grief! You’ll often hear people tell you to “get over it,” but I’m here to tell you they’re wrong. For starters, everyone handles loss differently. Some people sit in the anger stage for years, burning rubber. Others seem to fly through the five stages of grief because without realizing it, they were grieving before the loss actually happened.
Also, not only do people handle grief differently, some people are more sensitive than others. Telling a highly sensitive person to “get over it” will just make them think something’s wrong with them because they feel the way they do. Trust me, I know. This is the last thing you want to say to someone who’s just been dumped, because whoever dumped them probably has them feeling less-than-great as it is.
Let’s break this down stage by stage.
You’re in shock. That didn’t just happen. Sure, they broke up with you, but they didn’t really mean it. They’ll come back around. They just need time to cool off. They’ll realize how much they miss you and they’ll be back.
Sound familiar? This is denial. There’s no better word for it than shock. You might feel numb or flighty. This is denial:
In my experience (and again, the best I can be is me), this stage doesn’t last very long. A few days, maybe a couple of weeks. You feel like there’s still hope, but in the back of your mind there’s a niggling doubt that maybe you’re wrong.
So what do I do? Well, you have to let yourself get through this stage, but here’s where I find it most helpful to surround yourself with people and activities that you love. Distraction is a wonderful tool. Take a little comfort in the denial stage, because the next one is worse.
You’re seething with rage. They’ve got it all wrong, and you’re gonna set them straight. How dare they say those things about you?! After all you’ve done for them?! [stream of obscenities]
Ah, anger. Anger is uncomfortable for a lot of people, but if you examine it in its most basic form, it’s meant to alert you that something is wrong. It’s crucial that you feel your anger, and it’s crucial you have good people on your side to help you through this. You may become a grumpy son of a bitch for a really long time. Try not to take it out on other people, though.
Here’s where you think about all the things you could have said. Here’s where you become a ruthless comedy writer. Here’s where you turn into a bad bitch:
You may find yourself recalling celebrity feuds, listening to “Bad Blood” by Taylor Swift and laughing about Trent Reznor calling Marilyn Manson “a dopey clown.” I always take comfort in knowing I’m not the first person to go through something, and I won’t be the last. It also helps to use your anger for good. Write! Draw! Exercise! Find an outlet and let your anger guide you through it. I find that when I’m angry, repeating a mantra as simple as, “Fuck you, [person’s name],” helps immensely.
So what do I do? Don’t skip this stage. Don’t gloss over it. You’ll find your anger cropping up forever, over and over again, if you skip it. Make sure it’s all out. It may take a long time. When a good friend and I broke up several years ago, I was angry for probably two years. It depends on how angry of a person you are and how severely wronged you feel. I think I carried anger toward my high school boyfriend all through college. The stronger the love, the stronger the anger. This is a great time to eradicate the person from your life. Get rid of photos (if you don’t want to delete, put them on a thumb drive and hide it), objects, clothing – anything that reminds you of them. Try to channel your anger into something worthwhile and know that someday, you will feel better.
You’re going over the relationship with a fine-tooth comb. Every sentence you utter begins with, “If only…” or “Why didn’t I…?” You should have just kept your mouth shut. You should have just let him go to the party. Why did you have to make such a big deal out of things?
Welcome to bargaining. Welcome to dwelling on why things went wrong, and wishing they didn’t. Welcome to more false hope – sort of what you dealt with in denial, but a little different. “Maybe if I become a different person, they’ll accept me!” I think the difference between denial and bargaining is that bargaining feels more frantic and panicky. Bargaining is when you find yourself feeling desperate.
So what do I do? I’ll sound like a broken record by the end of this, but you need some solid people around you during this process, and maybe now more than ever. You need people who will listen to your foolish, illogical thoughts and remind you of the truth. You need people who are firm in their convictions (which are really your convictions, but you’ve forgotten them temporarily). I urge you to reach out to your dearest friends at this point. Don’t take matters into your own hands because you’re liable to make a mistake, reach back out to the person who hurt you and make yourself look ridiculous, crazy or worse.
You can’t believe it’s over. You can’t believe you’ll never see this person again. You can’t go on. You feel hollow. You won’t ever feel good again. You hear a sad song in True Value Hardware and tear up. The stupidest things make you sad.
Besides anger, this is probably the worst stage. “Abandon all hope ye who enter here.” You might find yourself just feeling wrong – a general sadness, or a sense of unease, or even impending doom. You might wonder if you’ll ever feel happy again. The face of the person who dumped you will haunt your dreams, asleep and awake. You’ll feel like you can’t go on without them. You might cry a whole lot.
So what do I do? Let yourself feel. Don’t hold in your tears. I still feel extremely sad sometimes about the aforementioned friendship that ended several years ago. Like with anger, you have to remind yourself that this too shall pass. I have another thought I keep with me that makes me feel better. I find myself mourning the fact that I won’t be a part of someone’s life anymore, and then I remind myself: “That’s true, but they don’t get to be part of yours, either.” Remind yourself of all the great things you have going for you: the loving friends and family surrounding you, the talents that are uniquely yours, the little things in life that make you happiest. And when you feel like everything is broken, reach out to those people who care. Don’t retreat into yourself.
What’s done is done. You can’t change it. You can now think back on the past and it doesn’t feel like lead is sitting on your chest. You’ve got this. It’s their loss.
Ah, acceptance. Acceptance doesn’t mean you’re happy with the situation, but it does mean you’re finally ready to face reality and move forward. No more dwelling on the past, no more wishing things were different. It is what it is, and you know you’ll be OK. It truly is not about forgetting what happened, or feeling like sunshine and roses. It really is more about knowing:
So what do I do? Call on this journey whenever you need to. When bad things happen in your life, or people don’t treat you the way you deserve, remember that you’re strong enough to make it through. I like to remind myself, “You’ve done this before, and you can do it again.” Keeping positive is important. And it’s also important to remember that things work out or don’t work out for a reason.
Do YOU have a question for me? Give me your questions and I’ll give you my answers! Send it to me and I’ll share my infinite wisdom.