As you might have gathered or know, I have some experience in breakups. All have been different, but the same in the sense of the 'advice' that friends give you; "plenty more fish in the sea", "it will get better", etc etc. Well I'm here to give some new sounding advice - this is the truth about breakups that no one told me, and I wish they had...
1. Remember to grieve
Something has died. It was called a relationship. I find it very puzzling that friends tell you to 'delete' your ex from your life - to block them on Facebook, to erase their number, to take down all the photos. Would you do that if your close friend died? No. It's no different with breakups. You need to remember what you have lost, as hard as it may be to live with. 'Deleting' someone is basically saying that the time you had together never happened, that it was a waste. No relationship is ever a waste. Even the week-long ones back in high school - you learned that you shouldn't just go out with someone for the sake of it, right? Mediate on the good times, remember all the bad. It's all part of the process and it needs to be done.
2. It doesn't get better
When you break up with someone, friends often tell you "it will get better", or "it will get easier". It doesn't. You just learn to live with it. Imagine that your leg got cut off in a freak accident. It's not going to grow back. You're just going to have to adjust to life. There are exes that I broke up with years ago and am still reminded of our times together. It still hurts. It always will. That's life.
3. Stay off the booze
You may feel like a suicidal 18th century poet alone with your bottle of wine, but I guarantee you will not look like one when you drunkenly call your ex at 2 in the morning. Alcohol is a slippery slope, trust me. Your consumption will increase without you even noticing, and the next thing you realise is your family are staging an intervention. Not very glamourous. Stay classy and ditch the booze - everyone will thank you for it (especially your friends who would otherwise be dragging your drunk ass home).
4. Find an outlet
For me, it was writing. For others, it's exercise, or a therapist. Find one and use it, but whatever you do - don't make your ex an outlet for your feelings. You will look desperate and they won't appreciate it. It's important that this outlet isn't a distraction from what you're going through - don't become obsessed with ballet, for example, as a way to 'forget' about your ex. It needs to be a way to exorcise your feelings. Don't bottle them up inside, this will most likely lead to depression, and no one wants that.
5. Don't overdo going out
Whenever a friend breaks up with their boyfriend/girlfriend, one of the most common reactions is to organise a night out. Don't let this become a habit. Drunken nights lead to meeting guys who you are so happy to get the littlest bit of attention from that you succumb to a rebound situation. This does not help you, and is really unfair on them. The best way to get over someone, in contrast to the well known phrase, is not to get under someone else. It just complicates your life, and what you need right now is simplicity.
6. Do something once a day that makes you happy
You know what's great about breaking up with someone? All the free time you suddenly have. Do not use this time to sit in a darkened room and cry all day (well, at least not every day). Being in a relationship means being selfless; giving your time and energy to another person. This can be exhausting. Relish the fact you do not have this responsibility any more, and enjoy being totally selfish. You want to catch up with some old friends? Do it. Want to eat the entire contents of your fridge? No one is going to judge you. Always wanted to draw, or build a stamp collection, or learn to play chess? Now is the time.
7. Don't be afraid of feeling sad
I have friends who, whenever they feel sad, they stick on the happiest tune they know. I think this is bullshit. Sadness is a feeling that you need to experience, not mask. If you're feeling sad, stick on a slow song, and have a bloody cry. Your body is telling you that's what it needs. There is no shame in wanting to indulge in that.
8. Going away doesn't help
When you break up with someone, often the first reaction is to run away. You want to leave the 'scene of the crime', so to speak. Unfortunately, no matter how enticing a holiday with your girlfriends might sound, it does not help you. You can escape the place where your ex is, or where the ghosts of him still reside, but ultimately your memory goes wherever you do. I can guarantee that sitting on a beach - however nice it is - will not make you any happier. In fact, it will make you feel worse, as you will then have the stress of feeling guilty that you're having a fucking terrible time. Go home, see your family, get some rest, take long walks. Feel sorry for yourself. You don't get to do that very often, so do it now.
I could say more, but instead I will leave you with this poem that I think says it all:
Sonnet XLIII by Edna St Vincent Millay
What lips my lips have kissed, and where, and why,
I have forgotten, and what arms have lain
Under my head till morning; but the rain
Is full of ghosts tonight, that tap and sigh
Upon the glass and listen for reply;
And in my heart there stirs a quiet pain
For unremembered lads that not again
Will turn to me at midnight with a cry.
Thus in the winter stands a lonely tree,
Nor knows what birds have vanished one by one,
Yet know its boughs more silent than before:
I cannot say what loves have come and gone;
I only know that summer sang in me
A little while, that in me sings no more.
Remember: you are not alone, and help is here whenever you need it.