Dealing with a breakup

Have you ever held a sprout in your hand? Besides a butterfly’s wings, it must be one of the easiest things to break with just two fingers. Yet, these sprouts push their way with all their might through ground that you would struggle to even dent with a sledge hammer.

When you deal with the anguish of a sudden breakup, remember the humble sprout and its inner strength.

To many, a breakup can seem sudden. For example, you had plans to see a movie and then have dinner with your partner on Friday night, but you received a phone call from your partner on the Wednesday evening saying, “Sorry, but I just don’t want to see you anymore”. You try to call your partner back to find out why after all this time this decision was made so suddenly, but he never answers. You drive to his home, thinking that perhaps if you confronted him face to face you’d be able to sort things through. But he’s not there. Before you know it, a week of phone calls and visits to your partner’s house has gone by, and you still haven’t managed to connect. You finally realize – perhaps you will never connect… again.

For others a breakup may be gradual. For example, one evening you decide to tell your partner about something you did when you were younger. For some reason your partner finds this terrible and seems to reject you for the rest of the evening. ‘This is strange,’ you wonder, ‘he’s loved me for five years already, surely my past cannot take away what we’ve created in those five years’. Yet over the next couple of days you find yourself getting one word answers from your partner. Eventually, you have a major disagreement and your partner says, “That’s it. I’m outta here.” And with that he is gone. Once again, your partner refuses to answer your calls or see you. Any attempts you make to put things right are rejected.

Then there’s the more common scenario, where your partner simply doesn’t find you attractive anymore and has found someone else. You discover this after he has been seeing the other ‘friend’ for a couple of weeks already. ‘He must be working overtime,’ you wondered when he never came home from work on time.

Regardless of how your relationship has ended, it hurts. You may feel there were no warning signs, but there always are. All you need to do is take a step back and think about your partner’s warmth toward you weeks before he ended the relationship. Can you remember? Think hard now. Ahhh! It’s coming to you. That night he chose to eat all the ice-cream without offering you any, or was it that morning he chose to go to work without giving you a kiss on the lips?

There are always signs, but they are seldom too obvious. Being wrapped up in a dream that you alone created can easily keep you from seeing the alternative reality, and this is probably what happened to you.

It’s easy to look at the dark side of things after a breakup. Depression, though something that you never thought you would suffer from, is just waiting for you in the corner. If you think that it’s weird for you to feel like that, don’t. It’s a perfectly natural reaction after a breakup. After all, you and your significant other have cut ties. You will no longer be seeing each other after doing so regularly for the past few months or even years. You will have to deal with telling friends that you’re no longer together. You may even have to deal with the painful process of moving out or seeing them move out of your apartment. To put it simply, it’s a very painful process and depression is the natural way for a human being to cope with it. However, even if a breakup can turn your whole world upside down, it’s an experience that you can learn a lot from. In fact, it’s something that can teach you to be a stronger and wiser person.

When you think about why breakups hurt so much, it’s sort of weird. This is especially strange since most, if not all, breakups happen after the relationship has already turned sour. This means that the relationship was already on the rocks, and that both parties may have already considered the possibility of a breakup.

So, why exactly does it still hurt even if both parties already know what’s coming? For starters, breakups are sort of like businesses that go bankrupt after struggling for many months or years. Sure, the owners already knew what was already coming, but the whole bankruptcy thing still hurts – a lot.

To put it simply, it represents a huge loss, not just of a relationship, but also of dreams, commitments, promises, and so on and so forth. With that loss comes the disruption of everything that was part of that romantic relationship. I’m talking about your daily routine: You waking up next to him. You waking up to his texts or calls. You going out with your friends with him. You going out with him. As well as many more things that both of you shared and did. After a breakup, you’ll end up wondering what life will be like without your partner. You’ll ask yourself whether or not you will be able to find someone else, and even if you’ll end up alone.

The breakup and end of a relationship may feel a bit like losing a limb – the neural connections are there, but the motor nerves have gone. Or it is like playing a musical instrument that has a part missing, like a violin with three strings.

Because of this, you may even wish that you were part of an unhappy relationship, because at least, you wouldn’t be alone. Sure, breakups are hard, but there is a reason why it happened. It may be because you cheated, or your partner cheated, or maybe it just wasn’t working anymore. It doesn’t matter what lead to it; what’s important is what you do afterwards. What you have to do is keep on reminding yourself over and over again that you can and will move on from this. Remember, the healing process takes a whole lot of time. Be patient. Don’t rush things.

You need to recognize that the slew of emotions you’re feeling right now is perfectly normal. It’s okay to be sad and happy at the same time. It’s okay to be irritable too. It’s okay to feel depressed, confused, exhausted and so on and so forth. Sure, it may be the first time that you’ve felt this way, but that doesn’t mean that it’s not normal. While these emotions may come as a shock to you, you’ll eventually feel these less and less over time. If you don’t, then always take this as a sign that you’re just a person that once deeply cared for another person. While depression may last for years at a time, you should never let yourself be affected by it for such a long period of time. It may be easier said than done, but trust me, it’s all going to be worth it.

Nurturing emotionally balanced children

What causes you the most stress? If you are a single woman, apparently the greatest stressor could be moving house, even greater than looking for a job or a partner!

And if you had children, child care is likely to be among the top of your concerns. It is not just the hunting down of a good nursery, one that provides adequate care for your child that causes stress, but when they are just there your stress levels do go up slightly, lurking in the background, fearful of a call that says something may have happened. The lack of control over the midst important things is a recipe for heightened stress.

And if you were expecting? Try not to get too stressed.

Researchers have found that mothers who have stressful second trimesters are prone to transferring these thoughts of anxiety and stress to their unborn child. In a study conducted by the University of California, a group of women were monitored throughout their pregnancies and those who reported experiencing stressful situations in that period later had children who were more sensitive to stress triggers. That is to say, the children were more prone to anger and behavioural issues as well as mood swings.

What can you do if you are pregnant? Well, for starters, be a little selfish and look after yourself. Actually that is not being selfish, it is a way of looking after your unborn child and shielding it from stresses that it cannot really deal with. In a dark world that echoes with muted sounds, the unborn child learns to interpret your reactions and feels how you do. How you feel and react to things around you are passed on to the child.

If you just happen to have a stressful pregnancy, all is not lost though. The researchers found that with the correct post natural care, babies whose mothers experienced stressful pregnancies can attune to a calm world around them and develop a sense of calm so that their stress receptors are not overly active.

Children develop in response to the world around them. They physically experience stress triggers from the environment around, but if the mother is calm, then this association and state of reaction is synapsed into the child’s psyche. How you deal with stress as the child’s mother influences how the child reacts to it. A calming motherly influence can go a long way into preventing a child from developing behavioural problems in the later life.

A escape from the day to day needn’t involve much

Everyone gets this feeling from time to time – you know, the feeling of being overrun with work and other assignments or commitments? If you have family and young children to look after, you may find it fairly tiring to be moving from one thing on to another, ticking off the to-do list, which by the way, never seems to end!

But it is not a good idea to continually live under that kind of stress. You may enjoy whizzing by on the surf of the adrenaline rush, but one day that way will get too big for you, all your life may just come to an abrupt snap. We all hope it will never come to that, of course, but who among us is to say we have never experienced that kind of “losing it” emotion?

We can all sense when we are getting to that point – we feel increasingly hassled and fed up, we snap at the people around us, which really doesn’t do any good because it only creates an even more tense situation that ramps up the pressure.

So what can we do?

One of the things we could consider is just taking a short break. I always recommend two or three days. Of course I would recommend more if you could afford it – and I’m not talking about the cost. I’m talking about the time. Could you really afford more than three days away from work? If you are self-employed, probably not. If you work for someone, then you may have two weeks annual leave, but taking three days in a go means you have shorter periods for the rest of the year, which may mean you might be under pressure later on and have no avenue for escape.

A day break is really not a good idea. By the time you factor in the travel and all that, you might find that you really exerted yourself for an unrewarding few hours – you might have well have stayed home and done nothing.

If you live in the city, try heading to the coast. There are plenty of nice places such as in the beautiful seaside towns of St Ives, or Brighton. Just sit on the beach and chill, or do some arts and crafts; doing something away from the usual routine can give your mind some down time and a chance to feel refreshed when you get back to the daily life.

If you really can’t afford more than a day away, then maybe visit somewhere in your local town that you don’t usually go to. The spa? Pamper yourself once in a while. Or maybe simply head for a coffee in a quiet cafe and read for a couple of hours – losing yourself in a good book is a good way of not having to be too physically active; if you spend a lot of time running around, actually this rest might do you good!

You have to look after yourself so you can give to others more. This is especially true if you have children. Sure, you must run after them and they are your responsibility, but if you give yourself fully to your children and don’t reserve a tiny smidgen for yourself, you will be run down, ill, and have nothing to give – and no good to your children.

So take a bit of time for yourself. It need not cost much in terms of time or money. But choose activities that relax you, not ones that cause you even further stress. If a holiday de-stresses you, go for it. But if the packing and planning for the holiday causes you so much that the holiday is merely to recover from the planning itself, then try another activity instead!